Most readers of this blog know that I'm an unrepentant beer snob, a lover of the dank, bitter hop. It's not a big secret. Lately, though, I've been stepping out on my best girl (metaphorically, and beer-wise only) with a sweet, sexy, boozy little number. I'm talking about caramel, and chocolate, and vanilla, and ABV to keep you away from heavy machinery. I'm talking about Imperial Stouts.
It started over Christmas, where a friend had Weyerbacher Sunday Mole Stout on offer. I had two, and I couldn't walk straight. The Easton, PA brewery starts with their renowned Sunday Morning Stout, and adds a traditional mole blend, including ancho, pasilla, mulato, and chipotle peppers. It's got a nice late heat, and an almost sweet chocolate/coffee flavor. And, did I mention that it's 11.3% ABV? Dayum.
My interest in the dark arts piqued, I snagged a 22 oz. Stone Imperial Russian Stout at my local Wegmans. Predictably, one of America's best and most creative craft brewers serves up a righteous tipple. Ratebeer gives it a 100 score. At 10.5% ABV, it'll warm your cockles - it's a smooth yet full-bodied mistress. Stone themselves say that the stout is "intensely aromatic (notes of anise, black currants, coffee, roastiness and alcohol) and heavy on the palate...expect this mysterious brew to pour like used motor oil and taste even heavier! Serve at 55 degrees." This is one Russian investigation I'm not going to want to stop.
We've got a little restaurant here in town owned by a FOKQ&MRKQ, called the Leesburg Public House. The food's creative and consistently excellent, and the beer list is long, ever-changing, and diverse as all hell. It's in a location that's been death to restaurants in our town for years, and it's a testament to the quality of their execution that the Public House is thriving where many others have failed. My wife and I frequently head there for a couple of pops and apps when we're trying to escape our kids. About a month ago, I had a Lickinghole Creek Heir Apparent from LPH's taps. The brewery is based in Goochland, VA, home to at least a few FOGTBs, and Heir Apparent is a revelation from the Man above. In the words of the brewers, "Heir Apparent is an imperial stout with a complex caramel soul tempered by a chocolate and roasty undertone. Sweeter in style than Russian Imperial stouts at only 60 IBUs but balanced by the heat of fresh Mexican peppers, vanilla and cacao nibs. The Heir Apparent is ambitiously biding his time until he comes to power. His time will come." This 11.5% monster is fucking amazing. After trying it a the pub, I grabbed a 25.4 oz. bottle at the store. It was the sweetest ass-kicking I ever had.
And just this week, I found Afton, VA's Blue Mountain Dark Hollow. Just like the others described in this post, it's big, and dark, and boozy as all hell. Drinking it on a weeknight is poor decision-making. But if you want to sip something that'll take the pain away and leave a sweet haze covering everything, Dark Hollow will do just fine. It's an Imperial Stout that's aged in bourbon barrels "still dripping with uncut whiskey". I don't know what that last part means, but I do know that you can taste the brown liquor in the 10% ABV beer.
Like a junkie needing more and more, I appear to be ramping up to stratospheric ABV heights in my personal beer-based Vision Quest. The stuff I've gravitated to lately is closer to wine than to your normal American lager. This is the single best thing about the Trump era, as far as I can tell.