This is review 4 in the Porter/Stout Tasting Series. Here are the first three reviews.
I started this little project by accident. First, I bought a porter and specialty porter from the same brewery and decided to do a side by side comparison. Then, I looked at all the beers I had in my fridge and in my beer cooler and noticed I had a bunch of porters and stouts. So, why don’t I taste one a day for a week and see what happens.
What has happened isn’t that I have stopped liking stouts and porters, but that I have started to hone my palate and have a much better idea of what I like and dislike.
For instance, I like Russian Imperial Stouts, but I prefer to drink more subtle beers. Also, with stouts being as big and bold as they are when they are just normal stouts, the addition of bourbon barrel aging and additional flavoring can sometimes be overkill.
Take tonight’s taste subject the Stone Brewing Chai-Spiced Russian Imperial Stout. This is part of their “Odd Beers for Odd Years” series. This is a beer I honestly like, but I would be hard-pressed to say I would just sit down and have one of these. I definitely would have it at the end of a dinner with dessert or with a bottle and sitting around with a couple of other friends so that we all get a glass, but I don’t think I would just sit down and have another at a bar.
However, that is not to say it is a bad beer. Quite the opposite it is a good bordering on a great beer and I would recommend it to most people.
It pours an almost black dark brown and has a nice foamy off-white head. A not so secret thing about me, I love tea. I drink loose leaf tea almost every morning and as the days turn colder, I will be drinking chai-tea, so I know the smell and taste of chai spice and this beer has a lot of it. The aroma is full of a slight chocolate aroma with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.
The initial taste is very similar to the aroma. You get a lot of chai-spice up front: cinnamon, ginger, cloves and chocolate. As you finish it you get more of the cinnamon and cloves. Not much hop presence on the taste, but it has a high-enough IBU to help me earn a level up on my Hopped Up badge on Untappd. This goes to my growing theory that IBUs only matter when comparing IPAs and pale ales to each other. The actual bitterness and the effective taste bitterness are not always equal.
It also a pretty light beer on the tongue. For all the spices and ABV (10.6%), this is a pretty easy drinking beer. If you aren’t used to chai-spice it might be a chore to get through, but if you are, it is almost like sitting in a coffee shop sipping on a chai latte.
I take it back, there is something wonderfully complex to this beer that is very interesting. I could and will try to get this beer again and hold it until I am in the coldest night of the winter. Then I’ll crack it open and sip on it until the sun comes up the next morning.