Monday, 3 December 2012

Beer Advent Calendar Day 3- Brouwerij Emelisse White Label Imperial Russian Stout Sorachi Ace

Good evening all. It's already Day 3 of the Beer Advent Calendar- how time flies when you're drinking! Behind tonight's cardboard door is White Label Imperial Russian Stout Sorachi Ace, a Russian Imperial Stout from Brouwerij Emelisse (The Netherlands). This beer is part of their White Label collection, an ongoing series of limited-release beers utilising different brewing techniques and unusual recipes. I had the White Label Imperial Russian Stout aged in Ardbeg barrels during the summer, which was pretty incredible despite the potential for personal bias as I am a massive Ardbeg fan, and by the name alone this is shaping up to be just as interesting. The Sorachi Ace hop can be found in single hop IPAs and even saisons, but using it in an RIS is certainly one of the more unconventional applications I've come across. Will it be able to penetrate the usual richness of an RIS and contribute something different to the proceedings? Review after the pics....

White Label Imperial Russian Stout Sorachi Ace (11.0% ABV) pours a jet black colour with a light brown head that settles to a thin coating over the surface of the beer. The aroma is very rich, with dark fruits (including some light soy sauce fruitiness), yeast extract, chocolate, coffee, toasty notes, caramel and a resemblance to barrel-ageing, as if it had spent some time in bourbon barrels but without the usual accompanying volatility. It's quite hard to pick out the individual aromas with this one; none of them are particularly intense but they seem to gang up and bombard the olfactories from the first inhale. The dark fruits and usual roasted malt aromas hit immediately, but are soon supported by the caramelised, almost burnt sugar sweetness. There's no sense of any lemon usually associated with the Sorachi Ace hop; possibly a hint of bubblegum in the background but certainly nothing overt. The taste is equally as complex, with chocolate, coffee, licorice, burnt sugar, dark fruits and some bitterness during drinking and in the finish. The flavours are fairly dark and smoky, with the caramel sweetness on the burnt side and the hoppy bitterness coming along in two waves; almost immediately and masking the other flavours, and then as a reprisal towards the end of drinking, delivering some tartness along the sides of the mouth. The characteristic Sorachi Ace flavours are slightly more apparent on tasting, with a hint of lemon and some grapefruit in the aftertaste. The alcohol content isn't discernible either, so it's wise to exercise caution as this is a very drinkable beer! The mouthfeel is quite thick and the beer is moderately carbonated, which balances out the flavours on show and works very well in this context to create a smooth drinking experience. Overall, this is an interesting stout that treads the line between RIS and Black IPA nicely- plenty of bitterness, some rich roasted malt flavours, and an impeccably disguised ABV percentage all make this a worthwhile offering from another great Dutch brewery. Probably the only complaint is that the flavours of the Sorachi Ace aren't as apparent as the hop-derived bitterness, but this is understandable when considering the impact and power of the stout flavours. Definitely recommended if you can find a bottle, and I'll be seeking out more White Label offerings in the future.

Until next time....

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