Nick Carr on March 23, 2015 1 Comment Quick Characteristics Brewery: Leinenkugel’s Brewing Company Location: Chippewa Falls, WI Style: Russian Imperial Stout ABV: 9.5% IBU: 75 Hops: Warrior, Summit & Glacier Malts: Munich, Caramel, Chocolate, Classic Pale and Pale Ale Appearance: Dark, Dark Black With Brown Topper of Mocha Head Aroma: Big Malt, Bitter Chocolate & Dark Fruit; Dark & Heavy Molasses Flavor: Robust Mix of Chocolate & Sticky Molasses; Notes of Tarty Caramel & Dark Fruit; Notes of Roasted Coffee, Bitter Chocolate & Hops at the Swallow Availability: Seasonal (Early Spring) Pairs With: coffee rubbed ribeye, three layer chocolate cake I can just hear the collective groan from all you craft beer geeks out there as you read the above title and what’s on the docket for this week’s review. Well, hopefully you’ve shrugged, decided to see what I have to say, thinking at the very least it’ll give you something to complain about and poke some fun at as you share a round of beers with friends. And I thank you, in advance, for sticking it out no matter what your motives. For those of you who don’t know what the groans are about… good. You get to come fresh, with no prior prejudices toward this brewing company. Why the groans from those in the know? Well, you might say that the deck is stacked against this Russian imperial because of its maker, but before we get to far into this thing, let me assuage those fears a bit (and hopefully keep all who read this around for the entire beer review); this is about as far from Leinenkugel’s usual fare as you can get. Intrigued? Good. Let’s press on. Leinenkugel’s has a prestige’s history. The Brewery was founded in 1867 by Jacob Leinenkugel and John Miller in Chippewa Falls Wisconsin. In 1884 John sold Jacob his stake and the brewery became the family tradition it still holds to today. When Prohibition hit instead of closing down, as many other breweries did, Leinenkugel revamped operations to keep with the times, selling a non-alcoholic “near-beer” and soda water. Of course as soon as Prohibition ended they went back to brewing the real stuff. In 1988, Miller Brewing Company bought the Leinenkugel and they have become most known for their line of what could be called “lawn-mower lights,” including a line of shandys; beer mixed with a soft drink, lemonade, ginger ale, or juice. But they do dabble in deeper waters with some darker beers in their lines and enough awards to make a person push those shandys aside on the grocery store shelf with high hopes of finding worth a gamble. And then there’s the Big Eddy seasonals. These are like the Mariana Trench, to their usual tame shallow water, sun beach fare. First introduced in 2007, and truly outside the scope of their usual line, these few beers hold many a beer-lovers hope that even big beer can create something complex and burly. This is actually the second of the Big Eddy’s I’m tasting. Indecently, if you ever have the chance to try their Cherry Dubbelschwarz, don’t hesitate (Maybe I’ll get the chance to review it next time around). Pour and Aroma: Pours a dark, dark, boarding-on-black, brown with a topper of dark mocha head that would do any Imperial stout proud. Head does not stick long, but with all the hop resins and alcohol what do you really expect. It is opaque, with no glimmer of passing light even along the edges. First hit to the nose is dark, heavy with molasses; and you might be inclined to push ahead, but don’t rush or you’ll miss out. Big malt, Bitter chocolate, dark fruit, and tobacco lend great, though subtle complexity to those who take the time to bask long enough. Mouthfeel and Taste: Boastfully oily, yet creamy too, the mouthfeel is medium thick, chewy, and warming. The taste is a robust melding of chocolate and sticky molasses with just the right twinkle of tartness. Some caramel comes through, as does the dark fruit mid-palate. The swallow sends up a crescendo of bitter chocolate, bitter hops, and roasted coffee that sticks around long after. Finishing the Impression: Thick and complex this beer holds the name of Russian Imperial Stout arrogantly, not wincing or backing away from the bold utterances it has chosen to take on and display proudly. This one’s definitely a sipper and not for the faint of heart. It’s big. A dark bruiser of a beer that knows its business well. I’m pleasantly surprised with Lienenkugel and the Big Eddy lineup; impressive to say the least. Lienenkugel you have my attention. Cheers!