Friday, January 29, 2016

Lagunitas Imperial Stout (review)

Beer Review #87

Every passionate beer drinker has their own pet peeves. For me a major pet peeve is the intrusion of macro-brewing giants into the craft beer world. Some craft beer lovers will tell you its 'all about the taste,' but as far as I'm concerned there is more to it than that. Being a huge corporation and making excellent beer are not mutually exclusive, and once bought out, a craft brewer can continue to make great beer if corporate intrusion is kept to a minimum. But beyond taste, it matters where your beer (and its ingredients) come from, how people along the supply chain are treated, and how the finished product is presented to the public. A great beer, no matter how good, if it takes harm and deception to get it from the barley field and hop farm to my glass. With that in mind, I typically steer clear of craft beer labels that have been bought out by the big boys (but some how managed to neglect mentioning it on the label). Even so, I ended up coming home with a bottle of Imperial Stout from Petaluma Ca based Lagunitas Brewing Company. Founded in 1993, Lagunitas is a well regarded West Coast brewer. In September 2015 they sold a 50% share of the company to Heineken International

As one expects from an Imperial Stout, this Lagunitas libation pours motor-oil black and rocks a sizable head of loud deep-tan foam that crackles as it dissipates. Poured un-refrigerated (keep in mind its January here in Pennsylvania), that head dissipates rather quickly. Lacing is smooth and oily.

In the aroma, coffee hits the nose first, but also some milky-creaminess and hints of molasses sweetness, and just a touch of alcohol. It is an un-aged 9.9% ABV Imperial Stout, so a little bit of alcohol is to be expected.

The label reads "I.B.U 72.45," however the current website says just 45IBU for this beer which originally hit shelves back in 2001. To these hop-desensitized taste-buds, I'd say Lagunitas Imperial Stout leans more toward that 45IBU mark. Its bitter enough to avoid becoming off-putting, but smooth,sweet, mellow and complex enough to suggest a little bit of 'over performance' for a stout that hasn't been barrel aging for the last year. Flavors include the obligatory coffee, roasted malts and dark chocolate, but also vanilla bean, the milkly-creaminess of a milk stout, raisins, anise (licorice), and some smokiness. I'm sure that some drinkers will turn up their nose, and maybe I will too with a few more years of experience under my belt, but at half the price of the next Imperial Stout I plan to review, this is bargain buy, and it doesn't taste like Heineken has done too much damage - yet

Musical Pairing: Act of Faythe by Dream Theater from their new double concept album "The Astonishing." But it on Amazon.com




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