A stout can be a wide and varied experience for your tongue. From a dry Irish variety to a sticky sweet milk stout, this type of beer has something for everyone. And the Russian Imperial Stout is similar to other styles in that it has been tweaked in all manner of directions. Once brewed to impress Russian Czar Catherine II, it boasts robust malt flavor and high alcohol by volume.
Blue Point Brewing's version of the style is very complex and a good complement to the other stout in their lineup, the Oatmeal Stout. The Sour Cherry Imperial Stout has the characteristic malty base with an edge of tartness to it that makes for an enjoyable drink. Here's how the brewery describes it:
This is an extremely complex version of the classic Russian beer style with plenty of roasted, black, and chocolate malts that delivers multi-layered coffee and sherry notes in a surprisingly smooth package. The beer is then matured with just a kiss of real sour red cherries.
The Sour Cherry Imperial Stout is 9.0% ABV and about 50 IBUs. To my knowledge it is only available on draft.
This Sour Cherry Imperial Stout comes from a growler and pours as any of its kind does, thick black and some tan froth that dissipates rather quickly. I like to watch the bubbles work in a glass for a beer this dark. It's pretty active after the pour but settles down quickly. So I follow its lead.
The smell is a complex whiff of roasty tartness. There is a good noseful of malt, little alcohol and a dark dried fruit smell like dates or raisins. Another draw brings more chocolate and I keep hunting for some coffee as well but never really catch any hint of it. In fact, the more I smell the more sweet cherry smell I get. It's not overwhelmingly cherry and it definitely has the stout feel to it just from the appearance and smell. Let's give it a taste.
Less tart on the tongue than I expected. Powerful and definitive malt roastiness that transitions nicely to sweet fruit and chocolate taste. It has a richness that is very familiar to the style, but it is one of the more unique beers I've had in that it has a nice blend of very pleasant flavors. And it is consistent from start to finish. Robust on the front that finishes with a mixture of tartness, sweet fruit and chocolate. Plus there's a mild bitterness that is perhaps from the hops but feels more like a bite of fresh cherry.
Again, very smooth feel to it. Consistent. The malts give a velvety mouthfeel throughout, but at the end there's a dry crispness to it. Not boozy at all.
Overall, this is one of my new favorites. I've recently had a second growler of it and enjoyed it immensely. It's a interesting and very tasteful variation of the style. You should definitely look for it. Cheers!
*Also, if you're a Blue Point fan you may have noticed in the picture up there a can of their Toxic Sludge in the background. I'll be reviewing that one as well. If you're on Long Island, consider yourself lucky to be so close to this great brewery.