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Day #3 – Samuel Smiths Imperial Stout

January 4, 2011

Reviewing on the road today at the Ginger Man pub located near downtown Fort Worth. This has become one of my favorite places to find a quality beer; I mean just look at the options!

On Tuesday nights they offer a “buy the beer, keep the glass night” which I am quite fond of being a beer enthusiast and something of a collector of glassware. Tonight’s featured beer is:

Samuel Smiths Imperial Stout

This beer is classified as an imperial stout, which is basically the king of stouts. It takes everything a stout has to offer and multiplies it. Some brands still carry the moniker “Russian Imperial Stout” which is slightly misleading as Russians did not create this and are not known for producing this today.  The style was originally brewed in the 18th century by Thrale’s brewery in London, England exclusively for export to the royal family of Russia. The alcohol levels are almost always higher than other styles, which was necessary in the past to prevent it from freezing on the voyage from England to Russia. This particular version has an ABV of 7% and should usually be served out of a snifter style glass. (Or a glass produced by that specific brewery. You never look bad that way.)

On to the beer…

This beer is quite heavy and is apparent from the very start. It holds a very dark brown color which edges on black. A healthy brownish-tan head sits atop this beast like a soft loaf of rye bread. While swirling this beer, it leaves a fair amount of residue on the edge of the glass that slowly crawls back down to rejoin the drink. (In wine and scotch terms this is defined as “legs”. The beer community has graciously adopted this term as well.) Viewing the legs can do two things; show you a good estimate of how thick the mouthfeel is or get you in trouble with your girlfriend if she catches you looking.

Lots of things are apparent on the nose that point towards a complexity of flavor. Dark malts and sweet molasses are first drawn, with the slightest touch of roasted malts filling it out. Chocolate could be detected as well but not in any amounts large enough to be palatable.

The flavor is a little less interesting than the aroma. Dark malts and dry grains are first up with a heavy sweetness after. It has a bitterness from the roasted malts that starts slow in the beginning but grows to be the dominating flavor in the aftertaste.

This is a pretty heavy beer that has lots of flavors and a large profile. The alcohol percentage is high enough to not be considered sessionable, but would make an appropriate after dinner treat or a soothing way to end the night.

If you have never had an Imperial Stout before, this would be an appropriate foray into the style. I picked this up at the Ginger Man pub in Fort Worth, but it is available in bottles at your more high-end beer retailers.

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