Saturday, January 17, 2009

Boulevard Imperial Stout

This is one of those beers that you have to ask yourself, is it all that good, and is all the hype just a little overblown? You never know until you try, but I pretty much have an idea by the Smokestack's history, it's probably going to be pretty good. Then again, there's always an exception to the rule, but let's hope this one isn't it. This one is numbered 00055/11960 and shows the 11% abv, which I like seeing, as the bigger Boulevard brews always have a good blend on the alcohol.

A massive multi-colored, light and dark-tan head explodes and rises quickly above the rim of the snifter. It's topped with a crop of big bubbles, and recedes at a snails pace, leaving stacked sheets of slightly broken lacing all around. You have to be careful with the pours on the Smokestacks, i.e. the Doublewide, or you're gonna get froth all over the place. No complaints here though. Color is pitch-black and opaque, with virtually no lighter shades showing when held to light. Aromatically this one is very complex, but that's no surprise. Burnt wood, some ubiquitous Boulevard brettanomyces (which seem to show up lately), burnt sugar, toasted bread, wheat, pine, subtle dark fruits and hops all work in unison to create a perfectly balanced aromatic profile.

A smooth, creamy and very slightly viscous mouth-feel makes for a medium to full bodied experience that is actually highly drinkable, but warrants sipping due to the well-hidden alcohol content. The palate is filled with dark chocolate, coffee, caramel, furtive candy spices, roasted malts and a good hit of alcohol that works itself into the overall experience well, while not being overbearing. In my opinion the hype surrounding this beer is well-deserved, but you'll just have to seek it out and give it a shot yourself.

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