Thursday, September 12, 2013

Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout

I met up with some of the Otter Creek team at the Brews In Bloom fundraising event a couple of weeks ago and walked home with a growler full of this aged, unreleased beauty. Mike Gerhart was telling me about how it was aging in a dusty, scaring looking corner of the brewery one would not expect to find such a wonderful product (I think for three years). Unfortunately I won't be able to get this again but I sure enjoyed reading over my notes :).

Alcohol Content: ?
IBU: ?
Malts: Carafa, ?
Hops: ?

Price: Gifted
Medium: Small Snifter Glass

Aroma: Predominantly bitter chocolate notes with rich, smooth, and very complex alcohol aromas giving a pleasant warmth to the nose. A slightly roasted grain profile becomes more apparent as the beers warms. Vanilla notes in the background. No hops. Flawless.
Appearance: No visible carbonation (expected), so I quickly changed to a straight pour to agitate the beer for better head formation. Its mocha/ tan head fizzes up and quickly returns back into the beer, leaving behind a wet or oily lace. Opaque or black in color with a blend of dark red/ garnet around the top and bottom edges (in a well lit room).
Flavor: Bitter chocolate and rich, roasted overtones move across the palate together. Semi-sweet maltiness is quickly overrun by the bittering hops. Perhaps some additional bitterness from the malts but I can hardly detect this. Sweet and spicy alcohol flavors come across as pleasant in the aftertaste. Alcohol outlasts the bitterness from hops (no hop flavors). I also get hints of marshmallow, hazelnut, and vanilla. No off-flavors - delightful!
Mouthfeel: Moderately heavy in body with not much viscosity. Its slick, oily mouthfeel may have contributed to a small loss of body in the aging process. Alcohol warmth approaches a hot finish and aftertaste - I perceived it as alcohol sweetness. Very low carbonation and served warm. No astringency.
Overall Impression: All of the flavor components do a great job of blending together as they move across the palate or different levels of the tasting experience. A Russian Imperial Stout easily overpowers most main dishes. I sampled it in combination with an amazing Lake Champlain dark chocolate truffle. The two matched up in strength of flavor and really blended together. Aged cheese or smoked gouda will also work well.

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