Sunday, 3 June 2012

Weyerbacher Brewing Co. Old Heathen Imperial Stout

Good evening all. Since finishing my exams on Wednesday evening I've been on a craft beer binge of sorts,  achieved through depleting the collection of bottles in my Guildford cellar and taking multiple trips up to London to visit Craft Beer Co., The Draft House Tower Bridge, BrewDog Camden and The Black Heart. Suffice to say, I could probably use a dry day or two to recover from this madness, but in the meantime I felt like doing another beer review. The subject of this post is Old Heathen Imperial Stout, an Imperial Stout from Weyerbacher Brewing Co. (Pennsylvania, USA). I reviewed their Double Simcoe IPA a few days ago, and after seeing this offering in the fridges at Craft Beer Co. last night I thought it would be wise to grab a bottle and build up a better picture of this brewery. Review after the pic.... 

Old Heathen Imperial Stout (8.0% ABV) pours a jet black colour with a thick bubbly off-white head that settles to a thin halo around the inside of the glass. Definitely looks the part, and the initially-significant head suggests a plentiful mouthfeel which is always good for an imperial stout. The aroma is composed of roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, sticky dark fruits and plenty of caramelised/burnt sugar. Every so often the aromas coalesce to give the perception of banana, and there's also some yeast extract that becomes evident as the beer warms up. It certainly sounds like a standard checklist of characteristic imperial stout aromas, but this beer delivers all of them at surprisingly subtle levels compared to what I was expecting. The fruit and the sweetness are instantly noticeable on the first inhale, with the chocolate coming through as cocoa powder soon afterwards and the yeast extract supporting everything. The alcohol content barely makes itself known on the nose, generally opting to remain quite subdued. The roasted malt and caramelised sweetness do create an aroma that's reminiscent of a hoppy barley wine, but I can't quite decide whether this is because of those individual components or because the beer also contains citrusy aroma hops. The taste brings out more of the biscuit flavours from the malt, and the alcohol does make itself known more on the palette in comparison to the nose. Plenty of chocolate, puckering dark fruits (raspberries, blackcurrant, raisins), coffee and a caramelised sweetness in the finish. Hop-derived grape flavours linger in the aftertaste, leaving the mouth feeling slightly dry and open to repeated sips. If I'd blind-tasted this beer, I probably wouldn't have immediately flagged it as an imperial stout- the flavours are slightly too subdued and the beer definitely isn't full-bodied enough to warrant the title. It's got more in common with a Milk Stout or a Dry Stout, particularly with the slight lactose sugar flavour that becomes apparent every so often during drinking. The mouthfeel is quite light and the beer is moderately carbonated, which does compliment the flavours on show. Overall, Old Heathen Imperial Stout delivers a lot of aroma but unfortunately doesn't capitalise on this initial sensory enticement to create a flavour palette worthy of its intended beer style. I probably wouldn't go out of my way to get it again, but it is worth trying once and would certainly suit situations where a mild stout is the best option. Better examples of the style include Great Divide Brewing Co.'s "Yeti Imperial Stout", Flying Dog Brewing Co.'s "Gonzo Imperial Porter" and Mikkeller's "Black Hole". 

Until next time....


  1. sounds a bit dull... may have secured the double simcoe tho' if shop still has it when i get there.

    1. Definitely the better option, good luck getting it!