About a month or so ago I was approached by Boulevard Brewing Company to get permission to use one of my photographs on their website. I was flattered, so of course I said yes, and as a reward they gifted me with a 750 mL of their off-market imperial stout.

Sometime in 2009 the brewery is going to release an oak-aged imperial stout as part of their caged & corked, 750mL  bottle Smokestack Series of beers. Before they put the stout into the barrels, though, the brewery bottled some as “thank you” beers for bloggers and podcasters who were saying nice things about their beers. So, not only was I able to enjoy a beer that was free, but also one that hasn’t even been released on the market yet! Yippee!

The bottle came unlabeled but with a hangtag that says “Smokestack Thanks Brew Test Batch: Big Stout.” (photos to come later) The tag says that the beer is based on the Imperial Russian style and is fermented on Belgian yeast.

It is listed as having 55 IBU’s, 9%ABV and is made with Fuggles, Magnum, Perle and Athanum hops as well as seven kinds of barley, two kinds of rye and two kinds of oats! That’s some recipe! What ends up is a nice, full-bodied, warm stout that is smooth as silk to drink. For a big beer it is immensely drinkable, so at 9% you have to really pace yourself because you can quite easily drink way too much of this stuff!

As far as imperial stouts go, this is not a terribly complex beer. I mean that in a good way…. it’s a good drinker that doesn’t make you think too much about what you are tasting. It has a nice bitterness that is balanced by the deeply roasted malts, and the silky mouthfeel comes from a relatively light carbonation and the addition of oats. There are some dry, dark chocolate notes way back in the taste, but a lot of warm, pleasant alcohol up front.

I enjoyed this beer immensely and can’t wait to check out the oak-aged version when it comes out.