Sorry to any of you out there expecting another of my hoppy reviews. Since the nights are drawing in, I thought I’d buck my own trend and review not just a stout, but an American imperial stout. It’s another offering from Victory, from whom I’ve had a lovely Pilsener, some bombastic IPAs and other pleasant, hoppy ales. When I saw this, I was curious what it’d be like – their pale beers pass the test for me, but how about the darker end of the spectrum? The stout had to be tried, even the name alone sounds like a song calling out to me…
- 9.1% ABV
- Comes in 330ml bottles
- Brewed in Pennsylvania, USA
- Malts: three imported, ‘two row’ malts
- Hops: whole flower American
Look Very dark, moody bottle. Don’t quite get who/what the ‘Storm King‘ is, looks like a bird? There’s a flowery ramble printed on the side, but we just want to hear about the beer!
In the glass it’s basically an opaque black, only showing deep ruby tones where the glass is shallow enough. Has a lovely, light brown coffee-like head which lingers nicely. 7/10
Aroma An intensely fruity nose, fresher than I was expecting – I thought it would be dominated by aged-fruit notes. A very light maltiness, but enough. Plenty of the standard roasty-toasty smells with a noticeable bitter element. Nice! 7/10
Taste The hops are actually pretty forceful, very bitter but also with the intensity of the fruit flavours. It’s citrusy, sort of orange or grapefruit. You get quite a cappucino-like effect, as the malts bring rich coffee flavours, wonderfully roasted aromatic qualities, and there’s cocoa too. It’s a robust flavour, and yet delicate also. The hops and malts are vying for supremacy, it’s good in that respect. It’s sort of smooth, and yet also a bit rough ‘n’ ready – probably at least partly due to the high ABV. Creamy, delicious, yet tangy. It has a long finish, though not overly complex. I thought I got a herbal aftertaste, but what herbs I can’t say. In that respect, it’s certainly impressive, I’m just not sure if it’s ‘all there’. Perhaps its strength gives it a tongue-anaesthetising effect that detracts from the experience. 8/10
Value I paid £3.99 for a 330ml bottle. I can understand why it’s so expensive, not just because it’s imported from America, but jeez, 9.1% ABV as well! It wasn’t the best drinking experience I’ve had, but then it wasn’t the most expensive either. All things considered, I can’t complain too much. 8/10
Session It was sort of a challenge to get through one, it’s so raw, let alone more than one. Plus it doesn’t take long for this 9.1% warming effect to take hold… The texture, the heaviness of it would make a session hard. Just one at the end of the night is more my bag, but then some of you folk out there might think I’m just soft. 4/10
It’s a bold beer with a lot going for it. There’s plenty of flavours competing, probably just before the point of being too much, and as a drinking experience it’s pretty valuable. For me there’s just something lacking about how it ties together. I know it’s expressive, but it doesn’t wow me. Unfortunately its poor session performance has dragged the score down, but if you like your beers dark, then forget that and see what you think.
Final score: 68/100