Style: Imperial Coffee Stout
From: Derry, NH
Brewery’s Note: “Dark and luscious, Vendel Imperial Stout is a big roasty beer with a wonderful aroma of coffee and dark chocolate emanating from its light brown head. Brewed with flaked oats for a creamy, satisfying mouthfeel, you’ll experience flavors of dark-roasted coffee and rich, bittersweet chocolate. Vendel’s recipe includes Sumatra coffee roasted locally at the Coffee Factory in Derry and is the perfect beer to warm up with during the harsh New England winters.”
The beer pours a coffee black with a nice small head of light mocha bubbles, which quickly fade to a scrim. When splashed against the glass, the beer leaves a thin set of legs and some very thin, very small spatters of lacing. In body, the beer is dark as the abyss, and has a sort of light sucking essence to it that makes me think thick and chewy, though it doesn’t seem particularly thick. On the nose, the beer smells of damp, roastycoffee, bittersweet chocolate, and a touch of cream. There is a touch of graphite in the nose, as well as some coffee-dark fruit character that give it lovely subtleties, though it is a softer smelling stout. The interplay and balance between the metallic graphite, earthy roast, sweet chocolate, and fruity dark fruit is more integrated than Trillium’s PM Dawn, which I sipped last week, and I actually find this more appealing in terms of drinking, though a touch less complex. On the tongue, the beer begins with earthy roast, and a splash of sweetness, which builds into a dark fruit/chocolate hybrid beside smooth, roasted, bitter and earthy coffee and malt with a touch of char. Bitterness carries the back end of the sip, but it is an understated bitter, like after a good black cup of coffee, with just a touch of hoppy bite at the very close. The balance is nice, yet the beer still manages to close dry, leaving the mouth slightly dessert-like, with just a touch of sticky saliva. When in the mouth, the beer is medium bodied, and surprisingly svelte for its ABV, coming across closer to a high 6% than the 9.4 it clocks in at. It’s crisp, yet smooth and full enough to let you know its weight, while the carb is a touch higher than other stouts I’ve had in the style. This keeps the overall sip lighter, which I like. In flavor the beer begins with earthy minerals and graphite which dips into light flavors of chocolate covered raspberries and plums alongside mellow coffee roast that closes with a touch of lime, mineral graphite, and a kiss of milk chocolate covered strawberries. I suppose I should note that all of these fruit flavors are very subtle and complex, and the fruits are just my closest amalgamation to what I am sensing… sometimes I worry I sound like an ass-hat listing all the things I taste. Overall, this is a lovely, oddly crushable imperial coffee stout. I like the higher carb in this beer a lot, as it lightens the sip, dampens the flavor just a touch, and really makes the beer dangerously easy to drink. This is a bomber I can finish myself relatively swiftly, and it has superb drinkability, perhaps the best in the style in terms of ‘sessioning’ a 9% beer.