There was a time when imperial stouts were one of my favorite beer styles. Now, I find it hard to crush giant bottles of strong dark beer, so I tend to shy away in favor of a more sessionable brew. Although, now that I say this, I might need to go pick up a Dragonslayer later today. And I tried Dark Intrigue over my little Christmas vacation, and it was phenomenal. I do love dark beer.
The folks at Southern Tier Brewing Co seem to be keen on imperial stouts, seeing as they brew five different versions in their big-bottle Blackwater Series — Oat, Choklat, Mokah, Jah*va and Crème Brûlée. In a recent trip to Wegman’s, I saw Oat on the shelf and realized it was one beer that I’d oddly never tried. It was one of the few cold days this winter in Buffalo, so I figured a strong, dark beer before bed was well-deserved.
Oat pours a deep, crude-oil dark with a very small amount of lacy brown head that sticks around a while. This one was colder than a beer of its caliber should be drunk (plus the bottle says to serve at 48 degrees), so I let it warm up a little bit in the glass.
This beer reeks of classic stout character. Notes of chocolate, coffee and caramel greet your nostrils. A heavy hitter at 10.8% ABV, Oat has no discernible hop or alcohol aromas. I couldn’t wait to take a sip. The mouthfeel is damn thick and creamy. The flavor of this brew is monstrous amounts of sticky sweet roasted malts, chocolate and hints of molasses that fade to a coffee-like, mildly-bittered-by-hops-and-dark-malt aftertaste. The booze is somewhat present in the taste, but surprisingly muted for 10.8%.
All in all, this is quite the complex brew, a beer that will keep you intrigued and drinking the entire 22 oz bottle – even though it was probably meant to be shared. You can taste or smell literally everything in it, even the oat lends to the flavor on later sips, in addition to the silky texture that oatmeal lends to stouts. One thing that I like about Southern Tier’s Big Bottle series — every ingredient is listed on the label, which is something I appreciate as a home brewer. It’s not exactly like they’re giving you the recipe, but it’s a nice touch. Although I do wish they still had the screen printed bottles.
In summation of this beer review – Southern Tier Brewing Co’s Oat Imperial Stout is a very complex, well brewed, and tasty beer. Heed the ABV on this one, and fully expect something brutally heavy. What I mean is, the beer is very good, but too strong in flavor and heavy in body to enjoy in mass quantities. This is definitely a slow sipper, and a one-and-done type of thing. You will need a nap afterward, or to switch to a much lighter beverage choice for the rest of the evening.