Last week we celebrated Darkness Day here in Minneapolis. It is one of the largest beer drinking celebrations our state has each year. Darkness Day is the day that popular local brewery Surly Brewing Company releases their Russian Imperial Stout each year. For the event, most of the upper Midwest craft beer drinking community camps out overnight outside of the brewery drinking whatever unique and rare beers they and their friends brought with.
In addition there is an event held earlier in the evening at a local bar that replaces all 32 of their standard beer selections with multiple Imperial Stouts and large barrel aged beers. I drank quite a bit at this event and didn’t even make it to the campout. Oh well maybe next year.
In honor of this year’s release, I dig deep into my cellar to pull out some Russian Imperial Stouts that I have been sitting on. It should be fun to see how they have grown over time.
Black Betty from Nebraska Brewing Company out of Papillion, NE.
Served: Served from the bottle, at just over refrigerator temp into a goblet.
Appearance: Jet black with a fair amount of beige/tan head that never fully receded and tight bubble lacing.
Smell: Whiskey, chocolate, a little coffee and anise. Plus the oak is present as it warms.
Taste: Wealthy dose of whiskey, the chocolate and coffee is tame but the rest of the aroma is masked slightly by the booze. That said the booze is very smooth.
Mouth feel: Lighter bodied up front for a beer this style, but the finish is fairly dry and bitter like following drinking a heavily oaked wine. There is virtually no aftertaste, but I want more anyways.
Overall: Hot Damn! Why didn’t I bring more of this home? This is smooth and delicious and I hope to grab some on my next trip down to see the in-laws.
Dark Angel from McNeill’s Brewery out of Brattleboro, VT.
Served: Served from a bomber bottle at a little above refrigerator temperature into a goblet.
Appearance: Dark black with a thin tight ring of tan bubbles and lacing that covers the glass.
Smell: Dark chocolate and tobacco leaf with a hint of toffee and black licorice.
Taste: Slightly burnt cocoa flavor, not as hoppy as I remember it and the booze has definitely mellowed.
Mouth feel: I know this was heavier the last time I had this on draft. Now the body is slightly non-existent. It is supposed to be 10.5% but I am not getting much booze at all. There is no aftertaste but much like the beer above it finishes fairly dry.
Overall: I have to admit I’m a little disappointed. I remember loving this beer on draft originally so I was excited about being able to cellar some of it. Unfortunately instead of growing in flavor it seems to have receded in flavor. It remains a tasty beer but it is light years behind the first brew.
Yin and Yang from Evil Twin Brewing Company out of Stratford, CT.
Appearance: Slightly opaque black with a thin tight ring of tan bubbles.
Smell: Chocolate and burnt black malt with almost a robust cigar undertone. The hops really aren’t prevalent in the aroma.
Taste: The hops may not have been in the nose but they are there in the taste. Call it what you will this comes across as an Imperial Black Ale.
Mouth feel: Very bitter aftertaste like drinking grapefruit juice. The dark malt and the acidity paintbrush my tongue splitting it into a million little taste buds. I’m glad I drank this one last.
Overall: I’ve had Yin. I’ve had Yang. Now I’ve had Yin & Yang. Evil Twin really can do no wrong. I just beg you make sure you are eating something spicy or bold with this, or make this your last beer of the night. The hop load is so huge it obliterates the perception of what a Black IPA is. That’s a good thing.