Beer Review 0595: Colorado Guanabara Imperial Stout
I’m certain we’ve never reviewed a Brazilian beer here before; after 594 reviews, I’d say it is about time.
Cervejaria Colorado began brewing in Brazil in 1995, and rather than attempting to recreate American and other style craft beers, they set out to embrace their Brazilian heritage and brew beers with ingredients that can only be found there. They’ve got beers brewed with coffee, cane sugar, cassava flour, honey, and nuts, and all of the special ingredients come from Brazil.
The brewery itself is located in a sugar cane growing region near São Paulo (exact location is Riberão Preto), known for its extremely high quality water supply, tapped from the Guarany aquifer.
I don’t have much information about Guanabara, other than it is an Imperial Stout brewed with Black Rapadura cane sugar. The beer isn’t listed as a year-round or seasonal offering on the Colorado website, so all the facts I have come straight from the bottle. The beer is named for “the breathtaking bay in front of Sugarloaf mountain in Rio de Janeiro,” and is apparently Brazil’s first Imperial Stout. Guanabara checks in at a whopping 10% ABV (alcohol by volume) and only recently started appearing here on the beer shelves in North Carolina.
Pouring made for an average size, almost large light brown head that is creamy and long-lasting. The beer appeared jet black out of light, but when held to a light, it’s actually a reddish-purple color that has lighter brown highlights around the edges. The body was clear, free of particles and sediment, but there were significant yeast dregs at the bottom of the bottle; despite many swirls with a couple ounces of beer, the yeast never went into suspension. Lacing is excellent, leaving behind thin, solid sheets of foam.
The nose features a heavy presence of chocolate, roasted, and toasted malts. There’s also a grape/raisin/prune dark fruit aroma that hits right from the start. The chocolate lingers between milk and dark; there are notes of coffee, but the sugary sweetness kind of tones what would likely be deep black coffee down a notch. Yes, this beer contains cane sugar, but it’s not overly sweet on the nose. There’s plenty of caramel, and as you might expect, it mixes well with all the chocolate. As the beer begins to warm, a grapefruit hop note begins to shine.
On the palate, it’s roasted bready malt to open, and it quickly expands to a ton of dark chocolate, coffee, and dark fruits. This is very good, and it only gets better — the flavors deepen, and it’s sweet, but doesn’t even begin to approach cloying or even highly sweet. Instead, the sugar seems to soften the mouthfeel a bit; it also adds another dimension to the solid coffee note. It almost tastes like this beer has coffee that uses milk chocolate as a creamer. The finish is sweet with both milk and dark chocolate, and a parting shot of hearty roast and cinnamon. The 10% ABV is completely hidden, and this is dangerously drinkable. Guanabara is full-bodied, with a medium, creamy texture.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this brew, but I’m here to inform you that you’ll get an outstanding Imperial Stout should you choose to try it. I’m calling this a nice change of pace because it sees the typical onslaught of deeply roasted malts take a backseat to more chocolatey and dark fruit flavors, and it doesn’t have a thick mouthfeel. I also love the 20 oz. bottle — for a big beer, that seems to be about the perfect size to make an evening out of. I would love to try some other Cervejaria Colorado beers! Go Brazil!
Colorado Guanabara Imperial Stout, 94 points. Price: $8.49 US for one 20 oz. bottle.