Maker: Arcadia Ales, Battle Creek/Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA
Price: Don’t remember.
Appearance: Dark chocolate brown with a short-lived lacy head.
Nose: Bourbon, sweet malt, strawberry licorice, light molasses.
Palate: Medium bodied and powerful. Coffee, anise, rye recipe bourbon, piloncillo.
Finish: Light with a little bourbon and molasses.
Parting words: Aging beer is something I got really interested in a couple years ago and it’s starting to pay off now. I had an aged Arcadia Imperial Stout at the Arcadia brewpub once and it was good but was all anise and little else. This is much richer but oddly playful. The various flavors pop up seemingly at random on the palate to engage in a tug of war with the others. The result is not well integrated but still very enjoyable. If I have a complaint, it’s that it’s too enjoyable. I almost never get drunk off of beer but after just one of these I felt a pretty big buzz. At 12% ABV this beer is best drunk in the same way as a fortified wine. Find a friend or two and split a bottle after supper. I don’t remember what I paid for it but I think it was around $8 for one bottle which I think is fair for a liquid dessert. Barrel Aged Imperial Stout is recommended. Put it away for a while if you can.
Maker: Founders, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Style: Imperial Black IPA
Purchased for $12/4 pack
Appearance: Dark chocolate brown with a foamy head.
Nose: Big hops, ruby red grapefruit, dried flowers.
Palate: Hot cocoa, floral hops, bitter citrus peel.
Finish: Big and bitter but split between roasted malt and hops.
Parting words: The best way to describe the flavor of this beer is as a hybrid of a porter and a pale ale. Most black IPAs I’ve had seemed to be little more than a darker colored IPA. A few have had some more depth and toastiness, but none as rich as this one. It has all the bite and spice of a good IPA but with the depth and power of an imperial stout. I’m not often overawed by beers, especially not IPAs, but this one did it to me.
It’s expensive even by craft beer standards but it’s the best beer of this style I’ve ever had and I think it’s very much worth the price. Dark Penance is highly recommended.
Maker: Aloha Plenty/Iron Fist/Stone, California, USA
Style: Imperial stout with cocoa and mint flavoring added.
Thanks to Rhiannon for this bottle.
Appearance: Black coffee with a lacy beige head.
Nose: Dark roasted malt, dark chocolate, faint herbal note.
On the palate: Full bodied and sweet. Like a Shamrock Shake upon initial entry. Some bitterness does surface later and on subsequent sips. Very dark chocolate, Espresso with a shot of peppermint schnapps.
Finish: Long, bitter and slightly sweet. The mint is in the background but still present.
Parting words: I wasn’t so sure what this beer was going to be like, but my doubts were unfounded. It’s delicious. The cocoa dovetails with the Stout-ness perfectly even to the point where I don’t think I would notice it if I didn’t already know it was there. The mint is noticeable but subtle, especially as the beer sits in the glass. I would have preferred a little more mint, but that’s a quibble. I also don’t know if adding cocoa was really needed but it didn’t hurt.
I received this beer as a gift from my cousin, so I’m not sure how much it sold for, but I’ve been able to find it online for $3 for a 12 oz. bottle. That’s not cheap, but since this is more of a novelty than a go-to brew, I wouldn’t mind paying that for a bottle or two. Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout is recommended.
Maker: Atwater Block, Detroit, Michigan, USA
Style: Imperial Amber Ale
Appearance: Cloudy burnt orange with an insanely foamy head that took the better part of a half hour to go down enough to be drinkable. Don’t believe me? The picture below is the beer fifteen minutes after being poured into a frosty mug. Still hadn’t poured the whole bottle in. Open and pour over a sink
Nose: Malty and fruity. Strawberry licorice candy, mango, papaya.
On the palate: Medium bodied. Nice interchange of fruity, malty and bitter.
Finish: Like most of my ex-girlfriends: pleasantly thick and sweet, with a hint of bitterness.
Parting words: Aside from the weird head behavior, this is a very nice beer. In spite of its imperialness it is food friendly and easy to drink. It comes in four packs for $9-$10, but considering the high alcohol content, it’s not that big of a deal. This one might even respond well to bottle aging of a few months. A nice pour. Double Down Imperial Amber Ale is recommended.
Maker: B.Nektar, Ferndale, Michigan, USA
Style: Cherry Melomel
Appearance: Fizzy burgundy.
Nose: Honey, cherry, not much else.
On the palate: Medium-bodied, lighter than expected. Quite sweet. Lots of cherry, with the cherry’s tartness balanced off by the bitter notes from the honey. Honey also adds sweetness, of course and there’s lots and lots of it in here. Also a bit of a concord grape juice taste.
Finish: Sweet, not much else.
Parting words: This stuff is supposed to be hopped, but for the life of me I can’t find hops anywhere in the mix. To call Funky Monky one-dimensional would be wrong, but it’s not very complex either. Just a lot of cherry with a bit o’ honey. I think they were going for something like a cherry lambic (called a Kriek), given the monk angle. It works as a fun, funky warm-weather dessert wine and it’s priced like one. I just wish there was more going on. Imperial Funky Monky is mildly recommended.