I've just realised this is my third imperial stout in a row, so if you're not partial to the style, I apologize. This particular one has been sitting in the cupboard for about a month and a half now and I thought it was time to put it to good use. Anyway, it was time I refreshed my stock a little. My local Carry Out was doing a 4 for €10 deal on all the O' Hara's beers, along with a branded pint glass, and if there's one thing that can lure me in it's the offer of branded glassware - I just can't get enough of it. Articles on those beers should be up soon, and it's about time, seeing as the Carlow Brewing Company range is probably the most widely available bottled Irish craft beer range you could get your mitts on.
This is a beer I picked up soon after falling in love with the Russian Imperial Stout style, thanks to Brooklyn's Black Chocolate Stout. The bottle was cool, the name was about as perfectly descriptive as a beer name can get and I didn't even know the brewer made such a beer.
Black Sheep Brewery's Imperial Russian Stout pours completely pitch black and sports a nice finger and a half of creamy, off-white head. So far, so good. Milk chocolate is first on the nose, followed by a fizzy, sugary fruitiness and a hint of bitter coffee, all mellowed out by the warm caramel malt. This woody, malty caramel is prominent in the taste, where it props up the darker chocolate and toffee notes, and beautifully compliments the Christmas pudding-like richness of flavour. Dark fruit soaked with hot booze, very nice! The 8.5% ABV lends a syrupy element to the finish. It's got a good body and is very satisfying as a Russian imperial stout. If I had to compare it to the Black Chocolate Stout (which I do, because that beer is now my go-to beer of the style) I'd say it's a lighter, fruitier and more bitter version. Not to suggest it's lacking in body though - it's just as full and complex as you'd like.
Definitely one worth exploring.