Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Samuel Smith Imperial Stout

Imperial stout “season” is coming to a close.  Spring beers are starting to pop up with promises, or at least thoughts, of warmer weather.  If you’ve been keeping score at home you know I completed the Imperial Stout Tournament of Death.  The tournament included some huge players in the imperial stout game in our area.  I made an effort to try as many imperial stouts as I could around the time of the Tournament.  I did this to gain perspective on how other less hyped imperial stouts hold up to my recent memories of stellar imperial stouts.  First up is an old stand by in Sam Smith Imperial Stout.

7% ABV

The label boasts the fact this imperial stout is fermented in stone Yorkshire squares.  WTF does that mean?  We’ll look into this in a minute.  The Sammy Smith pours with a nice creamy tan head.   The nose is boozy with big chocolate notes and hints of black licorice.  This is promising.  Unfortunately, the taste does not deliver on the booziness the nose had promised.  There is an initial chocolate flavor dancing with black licorice.  The middle turns dry and the dryness lasts into the finish.  In the finish there are hints of chocolate and licorice that linger slightly in the aftertaste.  As the brew warms, the middle starts to open up and develop some complexity.  The chocolate and licorice characters begin to deepen and smoothes out the dryness.  This was a nice beer but I expected it to be bigger in character than the nose alluded to.  At 7% ABV it’s under powered compared to some of the imperial stouts I’ve been drinking lately.  So I guess the underwhelming character can be expected.  I will say this beer is very smooth and uses it’s character subtly.  Nothing about this brew is overpowering and makes it very enjoyable.  Subtlety in an imperial stout is difficult to pull off but Samuel Smith does it.  If you’re looking for a smooth well rounded imperial stout that will not pound you over the head give this brew a try.

WTF are Yorkshire squares?

I did some brief research and Yorkshire squares are fermenting vessels made of solid slabs of slate.  This is claimed to give the brew a fuller bodied taste.  I’m not sure if there is fuller body but it looks like the coolest hot tub ever.  Relax as you get tanked on 100 gallons of imperial stout?  Yes please!  Some other cool facts about the Tadcaster brewery responsible for Samuel Smith brews include:  was established in 1758, the original well sunk in 1758 is still in use drawing water from 85ft underground, the yeast used to ferment the brews is the same strain used since the nineteenth century.


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