Monday, 24 September 2012

My First Beer Review!

Beer: Mikkeller Black Buffalo Imperial Stout

Brewed at:
De Proefbrouwerij

Imperial Stout


Pitch Black


This is my first beer review, ever and I've been debating for quite a while now as to whether I should add in beer reviews to the blog.  I'm not nearly as big a beer geek as I am a whisky geek.

However I do run a store that imports beer into Australia so I am constantly trying new beers out every week to increase sales.

I'd never been much of a beer fan until I started working at my current job, but I'd found over the last few months that I'm a huge dark beer geek.  Pale ales, lagers, India pale ales, etc just don't do it for me.  I find them boring.

But big, intense, dark beers. Yeah they get my motor running.

In fact, when I see a new one come out, I sometimes start giggling in pleasure at the joy to come.

So when my sister store, the International Beer Shop posted in their newsletter that they'd received some bottles from Mikkeller, a gypsy brewer, of an Imperial Stout aged in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels, I knew I had to try one.

When I saw that this beer was sitting at a modest 19.3% ABV, I went from "I have to try one" to "I'm going to have one, period!" even at the price tag of $35 for a 375ml bottle.  

For those used to thinking of beers like Sierra Nevada, that's just a small 20mls more beer.

And for those who don't know much about beer, your average Sierra Nevada or Budweiser sits at around 5% ABV.  That means that this beer is 4x as strong as those guys.

Now for those of us who aren't beer geeks I think there are a couple explanations in order or terms to be defined.

Let's start with Gypsy brewer.

A gypsy brewer is someone who doesn't own their own brewery, but instead rents space in other breweries to brew their own beers.

This doesn't make their bad, oftentimes many of the best brewers get their start this way, even better is that many of these brewers think outside of the typical brewing box and make some PHENOMENAL beers.

Next thing I should clear. 

Alcohol abv.

Oftentimes you'll hear me reference a whiskies or possibly now a beers abv.  You'll notice that the higher the abv the more I start giggling.  Now the reason I do this is not because I'm an alcoholic or I want to get drunk.

The reason why is simple.  

On a quality spirit or beer, a well made one, the higher the abv, the stronger the flavors and aromas that will come through.

In my mind when booze, for lack of a better term, dominates a whisky or beers flavor profile, the distiller or brewer messed up somewhere.  The best whiskies and beers are oftentimes high abvs and you wouldn't be able to taste the alcohol.

For me the flavor of alcohol is a flaw in the product.

Last my friends.  Drinking.

Do it responsibly.


The point of alcohol, of beer and whisky, is NOT to get drunk, but to enjoy something in a responsible manner.

It is EXTREMELY rare for me to get a buzz, much less drunk, because when I try whisky or beers I drink lots of water, I eat food, I indulge slowly so as to not overwhelm the system.

If you're drinking to get drunk.  Go read another blog.  One where they tell you how awesome Jim Beam and Jack Daniels and Budweiser and Coors are.

Yeah that's right the cheap stuff.

When you start getting drunk you palate becomes duller and flavors aren't so pronounced.  You might as well be drinking something cheap, not something nice and possibly expensive.

So drink responsibly.

Back to the beer though!

As soon as I could I ran over to IBS to pick up my brand new bottle of whisky, the Thomas H Handy Sazerac Rye, which I just reviewed, and a few bottles of these bad boys for my brother in law and me to try out this last weekend.

No way would either of us be able to finish a bottle in anything less then six hours and still be sober.

I mean this beer pretty much ranks in the top 50 highest abv beers in the world.  I needed reinforcements!

So my brother in law, my sister in law and I got together this last Sunday afternoon over a few beers and a few whiskies to watch Joss Wheadon's The Avengers.

We opened the session with one of my favorite beers, De Molen's Mooi & Meedogenloos (The Beautiful and Ruthless) which sits at a small 10.2%abv and then we cracked the big boy open.

I split the bottle in half and poured it into our tasting goblets.  I prefer a snifter style glass with my stouts and imperial stouts as your hand warms the beer it releases more aromas and flavors and I then poured.

It poured a pitch black, dark as night with a cocoa coffee colored head.  It's dark as sin and beautiful as could be.

It is actually incredibly impressive when you consider how monstrous this beer is.

The aroma is huge and complex. 

Bourbon, wood, ash, smoke, chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, licorice, caramel, vanilla and hints of alcohol, which is to be expected on a beer this big.

Wow, just wow.  

Huge is just about the only word to describe this beer.

I decide to take a taste, so I take the smallest of sips from my snifter.

Huge again.  A monster of a beer!

Bourbon is again exploding on the palate,  burnt mocha, coffee, licorice, burnt wood, vanilla and again a small amount of alcohol.

But this beer really does an extremely good job of hiding the alcohol.

Extremely intense finish with bourbon, burnt wood and mocha just lingering forever.

It took me two hours to finish a glass of this bad boy, same with my brother in law and we both agreed fullheartedly that neither of us could have finished a bottle on our own.

This is the kind of beer that you buy a bottle and you share it out among 2, 3, or 4 friends.

This is not a "I've just got home from work and need a beer to knock back" kinda beer.  This beer is wasted on something like that.

Plus you won't be able to walk after knocking back one of these.

This guy runs for a cool $35 a bottle over here in Perth and it's worth every penny.  I have one bottle left in my fridge and I've got two more bottles on the way, one for my brother Geoff in the USA.

Even better this is a beer that's going to be good for the next ten years so if you wanted to age it, go for it!

If you like your beers big and dark and intense and have a friend to share it with, grab a bottle of this if you can!

Nose:        24/25
Taste:       24/25
Finish:        24/25
Balance:    24/25

Overall:     96/100

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