Beer Review 0206: Foothills Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout (Birthday Beer Week 6 of 7)

Foothills Brewery, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is about ten miles away from my house. The brewery began operation in 2004, and have a solid year-round lineup from Pilsner to Porter, as well as a wide variety of seasonal selections, including this limited release — Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout.

Maybe you’ve heard of it? Released each February, Sexual Chocolate is available in bomber bottles direct from the brewery for $15 each. For the 2012 release, people came from twenty-two different states to purchase a bottle of this beer, and it sold out in three hours. And that’s down from previous years.

Foothills’ brewmaster is Jamie Bartholomaus, and the facility is your typical downtown brewpub. But Foothills has an eye on the future — they recently opened up a production facility, and have started bottling two of their offerings, Hoppyum (76 points) and People’s Porter (86 points). They plan to expand distribution into a 400-mile radius when they are able, and six packs are supposed to be coming soon.

Sexual Chocolate is a 9.75% ABV (alcohol by volume) Imperial Stout brewed with cocoa nibs. It is well hopped, coming in at 85 IBU (International Bitterness Units) and the artwork on the label is gorgeous.

Even though the brewery says the only way to get the beer is to be there, in person, on the release date, they do ship a limited amount of bottles to local retailers. That’s how I got mine, because, (no offense) I value sleep a little more than standing in line overnight to buy beer. And not to be a downer, but there is a bit of irony that of every single beer I’ve reviewed so far for this website, this is brewed ten miles from my house but is the most expensive single bottle of suds I’ve reviewed. Go figure.

A somewhat aggressive pour gave way to an average size, dark brown head that was creamy and lasting. The beer is exactly as described on the side of the bottle, dark black and opaque, and as I was pouring, I noticed there appeared to be no particles or sediment present in the liquid. There was a good amount of lacing left behind as I sampled and agitated the glass.

On the nose, there’s a big note of dark, velvet chocolate up front, coupled with some coffee and sweet toffee. There’s a touch of hops present, too; a light note of citrus (orange) along with just a smidgen of dark fruit, plum in particular. The odd thing about the aroma was that it smelled much better a couple of feet above the glass rather than putting your nose into the glass. It seemed to be stronger and sweeter the more oxygen allowed between the drink and your sniffer.

Tasting this Imperial Stout, it’s incredibly mild when it first hits your palate, with wispy hints of delicate milk chocolate and coffee. The action happens on the swallow, when the finish begins like a slow burning volcano: first, deep and rich dark chocolate, some coffee notes and espresso; then a drying bitterness. But it’s not over yet. Click your tongue to the roof of your mouth a minute after the taste, and you’re rewarded with creamy, chocolate raisins. Mouthfeel on this beer is thick and creamy, which matches the wonderful finish perfectly. And the 9.75% ABV is completely hidden.

Final verdict is this: Sexual Chocolate is a great Imperial Stout in the sense that it has superstar and simple quality flavors. The chocolate is great, the coffee even better, and that last bit on the finish is what makes this beer outstanding. But is this beer worth the high price of admission? I’m going to have to go with a no — however, I do think this is worth seeking out, if only to have one time.

Sexual Chocolate reminds me a lot of Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout (I gave that beer 91 points), just sweeter and more rounded. And more expensive!

Foothills Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout, 94 points. Price: $17.99 for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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