Beer Review 0420: Thirsty Dog Siberian Night Russian Imperial Stout

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Siberian Night, a Russian Imperial Stout, is brewed by the Thirsty Dog Brewing Company, located in Akron, Ohio. There isn’t much to be found about Thirsty Dog on the Internet. Their website isn’t incredibly detailed and there is no company history. As per the beer, it’s described as the “granddaddy” of all stouts, with deep-roasted flavors.

Siberian Night has won medals at the Great American Beer Festival three different times — gold in 2005, and bronze in both 2003 and 2005. Coming in at 9.7% ABV (alcohol by volume), the bitterness level is pegged at 58 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).

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Pouring produced a small amount of soapy, light tan head that diminished quickly. The color of the beer is dark black, and it is opaque — very typical to the Russian Imperial Stout style. The body was clear but there was a light amount of sediment at the bottom of the bottle. When completely poured, the sediment mixed with the beer and made for a slightly larger head that was much creamier and seemed to have more lasting power. Lacing was fair, leaving behind suds after each sip, which seemed to slide down the glass quickly, not leaving any impressive film.

The nose presents heavy but smooth malts. There’s lots of chocolate, both milk and dark, and it pairs very well with a fresh roasted black coffee. There’s lots of roast to Siberian Night, which goes hand-in-hand with the caramel sweetness and gentle puff of smoke present underneath the main aromas. Some light grapefruit hops give a bit of balance; there’s a toasted marshmallow mixed in there too, and some vanilla. A complex aroma that completely hides the high ABV — extremely nice.

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Siberian Night is a simple, straightforward stout, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that: fudge-like chocolate cake opens the taste with a lot of sweetness, but soon those initial notes fade to bitter with lots of black coffee. This brew reminded me of a Milk Stout at first, until those delicious coffee flavors came on, opening up to a roasty grapefruit middle that returns to a bit of sweetness thanks to the ample creamy chocolate, then concludes almost heavily bitter with coffee and smoke. Siberian Night tastes a little more bitter than the advertised 58 IBU, so be aware. This beer is full-bodied, but has a medium, gentle and creamy mouthfeel.

Simple flavors, easy drinking, and a hidden high alcohol content. No wonder Thirsty Dog won all those medals with Siberian Night: it’s a no frills, mega-roasted Russian Imperial Stout with nice attributes all around. Hooray for stout!

Tomorrow, we put this beer in a bourbon barrel and review it. Stay tuned!

Thirsty Dog Siberian Night Imperial Stout, 93 points. Price: $3.99 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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