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April 5, 2012 - BeerMistress
So, I met someone. His name is Andy, and it’s not what you think. He’s the regional buyer for beer at the major store in my area, and he’s responsible for the entire state of Virginia. We met in January when I was planning my beer dinner. He was patient, receptive, and full of good ideas. He helped craft some of the pairings that you saw in the post before this.
Well, after such a great interaction, I ran into him again. I had no agenda, so I simply asked him what was new that he could recommend. Without blinking, the first thing he did was walk over to a stack of single bottles with intricately designed labels and pull out a bottle of Old World Russian Imperial Stout. He raved about the price (about $6/bottle) and the quality… rated over 92 on Beer Advocate. I was sold!
For superficial starters, I love the bottle, the art, and the price! Not to mention, I weigh a recommendation from someone who does beer for a living quite heavily in my judgement. I also love stout, especially as the weather gets warmer and I feel like the beer gets whimpier.
When it pours it’s almost an anomaly. The color out of the bottle is a burnt caramel color, but once it collects in my glass, it begins to look more like a proper inky stout. The head is not thick or creamy, but it’s a light brown with obvious bubbles.
The smell is stereotypical stout and then some. It’s smoky, it’s rich, a little acidic… but the alcohol definitely comes through. A little too much actually, makes me a little nervous about the potential taste.
Upon tasting I am pleased to experience no such strong alcohol flavor. I’ll take this moment to admit that Guinness is the standard to which I hold all of my stout. I do not feel that Guinness IS the only stout, or even the best stout, but I’ve been to their factory, learned my way around, and feel that I understand them the best. This Old World Russian Imperial has far more complexity, depth and flavor than my beloved Guinness. At 8.2% it is, in a lot of ways, almost closer to porter. There’s a definite meatiness and earthiness to it. Almost like you’re tasting the soil that grew the barley.
The after taste is a bit dirty. Ok, maybe that sounds bad. But it’s the epitome of earthiness. Soil, earth, sediment. That may not translate, but in my world, it’s a compliment. Because in my beer world, all of those words are synonymous with FLAVOR. And in a beer, that’s what I want the most. In the average dark, winter beer situation, I’m more likely to choose a porter over a stout merely because of the flavor profile. But in this case, it’s a stout WITH flavor. Take into account the great reputation and amazing price, and we have a winner!!
Jasen admitted that it was more meaty than he wanted in a stout, exactly what struck me the most. So I suppose it depends on what you’re looking for in a beer. If you’re a stereotypical stout lover, this may be too much for you. But if you enjoy deep, flavorful, winter beer… even in April, then together we can share a bottle of Old World Russian Imperial Stout. And hey!? For the price, I’m buying!
Old World Russian Imperial Stout