Beer Review 0483: Fulton Worthy Adversary Russian Imperial Stout

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Fulton Beer began with four guys and a one-car garage in South Minneapolis, Minnesota. Ryan Petz, Brian Hoffman, Pete Grande, and Jim Diley huddled around a turkey fryer burner inside that garage in February 2006, on a -20 degree day, and brewed their first batch, all the while talking about how cool it would be to do it for a living.

A few weeks later, the four men tasted their first beer, and they decided that someday, they would build their own brewery. The next few months saw them rig together a system out of half-barrel kegs and an old bed frame, capable of producing all-grain batches, ten gallons at a time. When space in the one-car garage ran slim, they moved to a two-car unit. The beers got better and better.

Then, in 2009, the “what if” discussions turned into “we could.” At a turning point in his life, Ryan, who was looking for an internship in the beer industry, was unsuccessful. That sparked the setting up of a business, scraping together money, and before long, these guys had a distributor and a contract brewery (Sand Creek Brewing Company) ready to produce their homebrew recipes.

The beer was made and demand grew. The guys signed a lease on their Minneapolis brewery in September 2010; in March 2012, they opened the first taproom in the Twin Cities. They’re living the dream!

Fulton’s lineup is small at this point, with just three year-round offerings and three seasonals. Worthy Adversary falls to the winter, available in December-February, and is a Russian Imperial Stout that won’t freeze when left outside in the cold Minnesota winter. Coming in at 9.5% ABV (alcohol by volume), the beer hits 81 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). Fulton claim that it has a consistency similar to 5W-30 motor oil and that “adventurous tattoo artists have used it in place of ink.” Funny.

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The pour delivers up a small, fast diminishing head that is soapy, but you better look fast to determine the texture: I’m probably being generous calling the head “small,” as its probably more like sparse to non-existent. Color of the beer is right on for the style, dark black and opaque. When held to light, there are lighter brown cola-like edges. The body appeared clear to me, free of particles and sediment. Lacing was only fair, leaving behind just a few very thin pods of evidence as I sipped.

On the nose, this one struck me as being very smooth and having classic Russian Imperial Stout attributes. There’s a nice mix of milk and dark chocolate up front, and that plays nicely with some generally sweet malty notes with a more darker, toasted edge. Some breadiness leads into dark fruit notes like fig and plum. There’s also a punch of sweetened coffee. Nice, but not vibrant. As the brew warms, a puff of smoke comes to the front.

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Worthy Adversary greets the taste buds with a combination of dark fruits and chocolate. Think of a dark chocolate candy with a dry fruit, grape-like center. The initial notes wear off into a solid roasted flavor, along with some sweetened and perhaps creamed coffee. The flavors are consistent throughout the sip, never really twisting your tongue in extreme flavor, just solid, constant goodness. The finish does have a touch of alcohol and I noticed my body warming as I drank — that’s definitely consistent with the style. Final flavors are of toasted bread, bittersweet dark chocolate, and a subtle hint of black coffee and grapefruit hops. Although I found the beer to be thick and creamy in mouthfeel, I wouldn’t exactly call it full-bodied, just medium.

Fulton have made a nice roasted and chocolate beer that is a breeze to drink. The viscosity is a little off, but that’s a nice thing here, in my opinion. There’s loads of flavor to be had, but there’s nothing here that is going to wow your tongue. Just a really good brew that is a prime example of its style…if a bit overpriced.

Fulton Worthy Adversary Russian Imperial Stout, 89 points. Price: $11.99 for one 750 ml bottle.

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2 responses to “Beer Review 0483: Fulton Worthy Adversary Russian Imperial Stout”

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