Style: Imperial Stout/Imperial Black Ale
From: Stowe, VT
Brewery’s Note: “Beelzebub is an American Imperial Stout. The intensely smooth and rich roasted flavor is complemented by the unmistakable presence of hops. The bitterness is held in check, preserving the flavors of dark chocolate. This ale is aggressively dry hopped with Citra to cut through it all. Hail Santa.”
Beezlebub pours like motor oil or the blackest of hot chocolates. It pours with a huge, dark head, like the whipped froth of the blackest of mochas. The head leaves a patchy froth of lacing that creates a root system across the glass. It sits as pure midnight, black and opaque, with a thick, oozing body that seems to exceed its ABV. On the nose, the beer smells of smooth, roasty stout, with soft splashes of charcoal, Hershey’s Syrup, and rich chocolate malts. The backbone of the nose lies in a juicy, sticky pine and citrus burst faintly akin to Heady. It’s got a bitter hop scent, but as it warms there’s a slight maple syrup decadence to it that really ups the complexity even more. Its smells of a hoppy and roasty, yet clean American Stout at its pinnacle. On the tongue the beer tastes of sweet chocolate and citrus, with balanced roasty coffee bitterness that slowly builds into rich, piney hop bitters, leaving a sticky smack in the mouth reminiscent of an ‘old school IPA.’ Acidity is (as it should be) mild in this beer, but distinctly present in the bright hoppy citrus on the start with subtle coffee acidity and minerally graphite also entering around that time. It’s hoppy, yet distinctly stout-like at the start of the sip. While this is semantics, I do feel like it falls more into the imperial Black Ale realm the more I drink of it, though far more on the hoppy porter/stout side of the Black Ale divide in direct opposition to what the Alchemist’s El Jefe represents (I love referencing myself… Not sure I still 100% agree with that post, but eh…). The beer carries balanced chocolate malt flavors that take a touch towards richness at the beginning of the sip before they are swallowed in the roast and hop bitter finish and the lingering resiny smack that I see as so distinctly ‘old school IPA’-like that it has me feeling nostalgic (shit, it’s been awhile since I had an old school IPA…). In the mouth, it feels medium plus bodied, with a fuller, bright carb and slight acidity that leads into a sticky, resiny lingering on the tongue. The mouth is left bitter-dry and sticky, yet there’s lingering char bitters alongside the hops. Overall, for me personally, this is definitely on the hefty side of Imperial Black Ales, but with some superb stout nuance. Some sips, I even miss the hops and get this creamy, easy-sipping American Stout. The Alchemist makes amazing beer. The bajillion beer geeks that wait in line each day can attest to this, so there are no real surprises in Beezlebub, just come cravings hops in your stout and you will not be displeased.