I’D TAP THAT: Stone never disappoints

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First Posted: 5/6/2013

Beer: Espresso Imperial Russian Stout

Brewer: Stone Brewing Company

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

ABV: 11.0%

Description: Stone’s Espresso Imperial Russian Stout pours a pitch-black color that seemingly traps all light within and has a thin light brown head that dissipates quickly. The aroma is dominated by the perfect blend of espresso coffee and dark chocolate; also, as the beer warms, you will notice some vanilla and a subtle hint of molasses. The taste matches the nose but is surprisingly much sweeter than you might expect. The taste of espresso coffee and bitter dark chocolate hit the palate immediately; this blend brings a fair amount of bitterness up front, but is quickly quelled by hints of toffee, vanilla, and caramel. What I really love is that this stout cleanses itself from your palate and finishes fairly dry, leaving you wanting more. After you swallow, you will feel a slight bit of the alcohol heat; after all, it is 11% ABV, but nothing to put you off from loving this beer. I have to say that this is one of my favorite styles, and this is just an amazing interpretation of a great beer style.

Food pairing: As with many stouts in this category, desserts are the best pairing for this beer. However, this beer does pair very well with a nice coffee-rubbed rib-eye steak. If you have not had this, search for a recipe and you will love it, trust me! That being said, desserts are certainly the way to go, and due to this beer’s thick body and high ABV, don’t be afraid of heavy desserts. A wonderful pairing with this beer is a chocolate drizzled cannoli; many of us enjoy a nice coffee with our cannolis, and this beer matches that typical experience but then adds a wonderful chocolate base that melds perfectly with the cannoli filling. Is your mouth watering yet? If you are enjoying the lovely cool evenings around a fire with friends, then I recommend making s’mores, and hey, while you are at it, crack open a bottle of this beer to pair with it. The graham crackers and marshmallow are flawless with this beer, and the chocolate, of course, just adds to the experience. Also, be sure to enjoy this beer on its own merits as well. It will not disappoint!

Is it worth trying? Abso-friggin-lutely! This is one of the best stouts I have ever had, and I have had a lot of stouts! If you are a fan of Stone’s standard Imperial Russian Stout, then you will love this beer. Heck, if you are a fan of stouts in general, you will love this beer. Stone always seems to manage to one-up themselves in their great beer offerings, and this “odd year” release is no exception, taking their Imperial Russian Stout and adding espresso coffee to the blend. This beer is perfect for the current cool evenings around a fire with friends and family, so grab some of this while you can, as it won’t be around long. If you wait and miss out, don’t say that I didn’t warn you!

Rating: W W W W W

Where can I get it? Currently available in bottles at: Krugel’s Georgetown Deli & Beer, Wilkes Barre; Exit 190 Beer & Deli, Dickson City; and J & H Beer, Plains.

Remember, enjoy responsibly! Cheers!

-Derek Warren is a beer expert, avid homebrewer, and beer historian. Derek can be reached at NEPABeerGeek@gmail.com.