Beer Review 0096: Brewdog Old World Russian Imperial Stout

Several weeks ago, I reviewed Brewdog’s Old World India Pale Ale, which received 77 points. You’d never be able to tell this was a Brewdog concoction if you didn’t thoroughly investigate the bottle.

In my review, I noted that this was a beer made exclusively for Total Wine stores in the United States. The beer I’m drinking today, Brewdog Old World Russian Imperial Stout, is exactly the same, only made for Total Wine. But since the first review, I’ve done a bit more research and have found out the reason why these beers are exclusive to Total Wine: in exchange for exclusivity, Total Wine agreed to sell beers from Brewdog’s regular line.

This beer and the Old World IPA are marketed in Total Wine’s “Brewery Direct” series, which is kind of like a discount beer label.

Brewdog has been in business since 2007, founded by James Watt and Martin Dickie. As I alluded to in the Old World IPA review, Brewdog aren’t exactly one of my favorite breweries. I’m not a big fan of their shock value philosophy (such as stuffing a 55% alcohol by volume beer into dead bodies of small animals) or their whole “Equity for Punks,” in which you buy shares of the company. Anybody want to buy a share of this website? Hmm…

That being said, they are the fastest growing independent brewery in the UK, so somebody is fond of their beer and advertising tactics.

The pour commanded a large head, creamy in texture and with tight bubbles. The beer was a very dark brown color, opaque, but with faded ruby edges when held to the light. The body appeared clear of particles and sediment; the bottom of the bottle presented no yeast. The lacing was superb, sticking to the glass in thick tan chunks.

On the nose, there are some pleasant notes of coffee, chocolate, and caramel. There’s a bit of grain in there which lends an oatmeal-like aroma; this one smells lightly hopped and has a funky perfume hint. There are faint notes of alcohol and raisin.

Taking a sip, this one is much more hoppy than anticipated. This beer is quite bitter at first, almost bordering on a grapefruit, before turning sweeter in the middle of the taste and finishing roasted and bittersweet, with a strong caramel flavor and a note of dark chocolate. The finish is long and the texture was creamy but drying due to the initial bitterness. There’s also a small hint of burnt toast as the beer warms.

For the discounted price of this beer, Old World Russian Imperial Stout is quite a bang for the buck. And this is a great beer — but Russian Imperial Stout? Honestly, this drinks more like a Black IPA. Still, this one has good flavors and a nice mouthfeel, and I thought the transition between the hops and malt was really nice.

Brewdog Old World Russian Imperial Stout, 87 points. Price: $5.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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