Sometimes it’s nice to sit down and enjoy a strong refreshing dark malty beer. Sometimes it is OK not to only drink a session beer, and instead imbibe in something a tad stronger. Tonight I’m enjoying Southern Oregon Brewing seasonal, Black Heart Imperial Stout.
This 8.5% behemoth on the bottom end of the Russian Imperial Stout strength ranking (8-12%) still packs a full range of flavors and taste.
Aroma – (8/12) Rich with a sweet scent of estery fruit, dark fruits (plumbs and raisins) come to mind of course. A slight scent of the darker malt is there, not very burnt like one would get typically in this style. A definite alcohol, with port like character rounds out the nice aroma.
Appearance – (3/3) Jet black pretty much opaque. A slim off tan head sat for a few minutes and slowly dissipated as one expects with this level of alcohol. A slight appearance of ‘legs’ or the beginnings anyways. Nice to see.
Flavor – (16/20)Slight maltiness with a near overpowering fruity ester backed by a decent alcohol. The grains, burnt or otherwise are subdued, and this beer is more about fruit and alcohol. There is almost no hint of coffee like one typically finds in this style and very little chocolate. The balance leans towards the sweetness provided by the fruitlike esters and alcohol and has little hop bitterness on the other side.
Mouthfeel – (4/5) Low carbonation lets the sweetness come through, not very chewy in that same way. A slight warmth exists and borders on syrupy, but not too close.
Overall Impression – (8/10) A large dark ale accentuated by the fruits and alcohol that leaves the roast grains behind. I enjoy the easy drinking nature in that same way, and doesn’t overpower the palate with roast, burnt, or hop bitterness. A great job highlighting a sweeter side of this style.
Review: 39/50 on my first attempt at a BJCP style judging. That seems to land about right looking at an overall score and where I perceive this on the first sip. A steal at $3.79 for a 22oz bomber at Fred Meyer locally (Portland). I generally have enjoyed S.O.B’s offerings and another bottle of this one will end up in my basement for a year or two, and we can review how it ages.