Yeti Imperial Stout

Image courtesy of Great Divide Brewing Company

Image courtesy of Great Divide Brewing Company

Yeti Imperial Stout from Great Divide Brewing Co. Denver, CO.  Black, opaque, tons of thick, brown, lacey head!  Wow!  Earthy, chocolatey, creamy, vanilla-y.  Smooth, roasted flavors, some coffee, dryish finish.  9.5% ABV but not obviously strong.  Very drinkable, not daunting.  Love it!


Porcine Unidragon

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Porcine Unidragon is not a prog band from the mid 70s.  It’s more like a creature that inhabited the mountains of your high school Dungeons and Dragons universe and screwed with the ale at your half-elf ranger’s favorite inn.  Porcine Unidragon is an excellent American Imperial Stout from Clown Shoes of Ipswich, MA, one of the more fun and adventurous brewers I know of.  Porcine Unidragon is a version of their Braelock Unidragon Russian Imperial Stout, with beechwood smoked malts and bourbon barrel aging to distinguish it.  It is absolutely opaque black, proudly displays its huge beige head and leaves behind awe-inspiring amounts of lacing in curious graphic patterns.  Notes of cocoa, vanilla, bourbon, coffee, butterscotch and caramel abound in the bouquet, and the flavors follow suit.  Add a little coffee bitterness and a 12.5% ABV bite and you’ve just experienced the wonders of Porcine Unidragon.  This is a great beer for fall:  big, complex, warming and consoling for those who miss the warmth and longer days of summer.  It’s a limited run, so if you see it, buy it now.  It will cellar well and certainly be a good winter warmer as well.

90/100 Imperial Stout

Big Hugs Imperial Stout

Thanks to Half Acre Brewing Company. for EVERYTHING!

With only 3000 22 oz. bottles available at the Half Acre brewery, Big Hugs Imperial Stout is a limited release that I will look forward to every December.  I got my 2 bottles, and $12 each I felt like it might be a gamble.  I guess the line of Big Hugs fans that went out the door on release day should have calmed my fears.  (Good Lord, I waited in line for a limited release beer – DORK!)  Big Hugs is a black beauty.  Its big, frothy 2″ head collapses to a splotchy layer after 2 minutes or so, revealing the dusky jewel below.  Aromas of dark coffee grounds and chocolate are present, some anise and woodsmoke too, but the Bailey’s Irish Cream notes excite me the most, complete with the boozy tang at the end.  It tastes like heaven, with more coffee and some carmelized brown sugar.  Its smooth, round mouthfeel makes this a surprisingly easy drinker for a 10% ABV Imperial Stout.  The finish is good, being neither too bitter nor too dry with hints of yeasty esters, and the gut warming quality is a great winter comfort.  The label is great as well.  If you can find it, buy it!  If not, I’ll see you in line next year.

Thanks to Jim Morrison for inspiring the use of “dusky jewel”.

Lagunitas Imperial Stout

Lagunitas Imperial Stout is 10% ABV, and pours black with a wispy beige head.  There is a whiff of rust and some coffee off the head.  As the head recedes note of cognac, raisins and butterscotch make their presence known, and a nice tanginess is present in a good mouthful.  The finish is dry at first, but mellows to coffee and bittersweet chocolate as it warms.  My pint came from a barrel,  but I trust the bottled variety is good as well.

Black Cauldron Imperial Stout

Black Cauldron Imperial Stout by Grand Teton Brewing Company in Victor, Idaho, pours like motor oil…rich and black!  The huge head of PMS 467 Beige (that’s for the graphic designers and printers out there) starts off about 3 fingers thick and over the course of 5 minutes collapses into a splotchy, lace-producing heap.  As I mentioned, this stout is black, and completely opaque.  There’s a good whiff of roasted chocolate malt in the nose, followed by some alcohol (8% ABV) and some yeast.  The texture is smooth and creamy, and it tastes of coffee and bittersweet (or burnt?) chocolate.  There is some bitterness in the finish, but oddly, the first time I really got a feel for the hops was in my first belch.  Sorry to be gross, but it’s true.  I’m glad I chose this one and was not scared away by the cheesy label art, portraying two elfin women brewers/witches stirring the cauldron on a cold dark night.  All in all a pretty good and drinkable Imperial Stout.  75/100