Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Beerlog: Lagunita's Imperial Stout

Why are imperial stouts ever done as a summer release? Lagunita's & Stone both do it, and it makes no sense... Heavy, intense beers like RISs and hot weather never go well together. It's 90+ degrees in the Sacramento Sprawl right now, and I'm feeling the kolschs and saisons, not the impy stouts. If I were to drink any "bigger" beer during the late spring/summer, it'd probably be a big Belgian, with a lighter mouthfeel (in fact, I've gone on my greatest Belgian binges during the summers, for some reason). Nevertheless, despite the current, unseasonable heat, I finally decided to try Lagunitas' offering in RIS the style. And I'm glad I did.

I have issues with Lagunitas. I don't quite trust the brewery. Half of their beers I hate. Half I love. Until now, I couldn't quite discern the pattern of their schizophrenia. It's the hopping. I love their "non-hoppy" beers, while I loathe (nearly) everything they do in the "hoppy" styles. Something about their hop choice turns me off from their IPAs, DIPAs, and pale ales - the Imperial Red is the only exception. But their "non-hoppys" have all been damned good. Their saison (#9) and Neuvo Noir were both wonderful, and this imperial stout ain't too shabby.

It poured a clear and exceedingly deep amber. Not black, mind you, but dark amber. Not unpleasant, but a bit out-of-style, so I'd dock a few points on appearance.

The aroma is all I like in an imperial stout. A hint of roastiness, hopping subdued, and a big, mealy, malty, gamey, with that indefinable odor that is unique to good RISs and dopplebocks. There are also undercurrents of currant and plum. And chocolate. A definite winner on the aroma...

The flavor fills the mouth with stabbing bits of charcoal and chocolate, and there's sweet, dark fruit at the end, but in the middle it's a bit anemic... It could use a bit more malt body to carry it through. The mouthfeel suffers with the lack of residual sugars that impact the "middle" of the flavor, but the acrid bits at the end from the roasted malts make up enough to land the beer in the territory of "interesting" in terms of mouthfeel.

Overall, a damned drinkable RIS, and with the relatively low price at which my nearest supermarket is offering it, I should think I should often find myself drinking this beer. That is, were this not a bloody hot late-spring/early-summer. Move this release to winter, and I might choose to live off this stuff through the cold months...


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