Pours pitch black, no light shows through even with a camera flash held directly behind the glass. Smells very strong and malty, with a bit of coffee or chocolate and a big kick of alcohol. The first taste is a tiny bit smokey, with some good espresso and cocoa coming through. At the end you get that same big ol’ kick of booze you got from the smell.
Impression: This beer does not drink as heavy as you would expect from the color. It goes down a little bit lighter than a lot of stouts until you hit the alcohol on the back-end. It is easy to forget on the front end how big this beer it, but once you put it down and get that burn you can’t mistake it. This beer could you just a little bit more creaminess, but as Russian imperial stouts go, this is pretty good. Make sure you sip this one slowly, because it will catch up to you pretty quickly.
It is very important to make sure this is not too cold. When I first sipped it, it was quite a bit too cold. The full aroma of the beer really got shut down when it was too cold. Even more concerning was the fact that there was a bit of a funky taste in there somewhere. When it was too cold there was almost an aspartame type metal flavor. After giving it about twenty minutes to get closer to room temperature, the metallic flavor was gone, the aroma was much better, and the alcohol flavor back off a lot. This is a whole different beer when it is at the proper temperature. If you are drinking this, keep it at room temperature, throw it in the fridge for ten minutes, and drink up.