Now that Sprecher seems to be getting more widely available in Kansas City, I don’t mind reviewing this previously obscure (for around here) beer so much! I actually purchased this bottle in Omaha, NE, a few months ago. A four-pack of Sprecher’s trademark 16oz bottles was something like $7!
Sprecher makes some really good beers. I used to associate the brewery with someone I didn’t particularly like from my past (who turned me onto the brewery), so I’m glad I’ve been trying more of their beers and rediscovering this superb Wisconsin brewery over the part few months!
This beer is from Sprecher’s Premium Reserve lineup. It is a Russian Imperial Stout (you can tell this because the brewery cleverly named it “Russian Imperial Stout”), which is a style of stout originally brewed in the UK with extra alcohol (higher gravity) and hops to be exported to the Baltic courts. The “imperial” designation comes from the rumor that these beers were especially popular with Russian royalty.
This is an extremely popular style of beer in the craft brewing scene and for good reasons… stouts are delicious, all sorts of adjuncts like fruits, coffee and chocolate can be added to play with the flavors, and they are fun to drink. What’s not to like?
I poured this beer into my large (16oz) nonic pint glass (the large pint glasses with the bulge near the mouth). The beer poured absolutely pitch black with just the faintest of red highlights in the very corners of the glass. The head was the brown color of the crema on an espresso, deep and rich and fluffy like shaving cream.
I got a little aroma of roast and maybe coffee initially, but once the head disappeared I couldn’t get anything for aroma, and this time I don’t think it’s my nose!
The beer is an easy drinker, with little carbonation and a smooth, silky mouthfeel. If I didn’t know better, I would think it has oatmeal in it because of the texture, but none is listed on the website. This beer weighs in at 32 IBU’s and 8.5% ABV, so it’s not a mammoth stout, but it’s no lightweight, either.
There is some sweetness and dry roast on the front end of the sip, while the hops sort of come in later in the sip from the sides and meet up for a big finish with a little bitterness from the roasted malts. This is a well-balanced beer, with a nice finish that isn’t too dry or too sweet. There are hints of chocolate in the flavor, too, but I don’t pick up any coffee-like flavors despite getting some on the initial aroma. A nice caramel flavor on the aftertaste.
As far as imperial stouts go, this is fairly one-dimensional when compared to something like Bell’s Expedition Stout, for example. I’d compare it more to something like Old Rasputin or even a standard stout like Anderson Valley’s incredible Barney Flatts Oatmeal Stout. That said, it’s a very enjoyable beer, very easy to drink and, after having only 1-2 beers in the past four weeks, something with a noticeable kick for my now lightweight status! This would be a good bar stout for when you’re socializing, not forcing you to think too hard about what you’re tasting. Another winner from Sprecher!