Monday, 1 December 2014

Harvey's Imperial Extra Double Stout

Harvey's Imperial Extra Double Stout
Style: Imperial Stout
Alcohol Content: 9%
From: Lewes, East Sussex, United Kingdom 
Purchased From: Corbetts Real Ale Shop, Dorking, Surrey

This beer is a re-creation of a classic 19th century beer. During the Victorian era, London became well known for brewing stouts. London's hard water was perfect for brewing these pints of happiness and as the centre of commerce, these beers began to be exported world wide. One of these happy customers were the old Russian Empire. As a developing economy, Russia soon grew very envious of the British position as an economic powerhouse. In order to "keep up with the Jones", Russia began to import vast quantities of strong stout (typically above the  five percent sold in the UK). Sensing a unique business opportunity, Albert Le Coq began shipping beer to Russia directly from London in 1820s. His export business was initially very successful, however, by 1904 the business was faced with a number of challenges. High custom levies and frequent forging forced Le Coq's company to search for a new home inside the Russian Empire. A site at Tartu in modern day Estonia was eventually selected and the brewery went from strength to strength up until the fall of the Romanov dynasty in 1917. The new Bolshevik soon began to nationalise all the breweries in the USSR and this beer was slowly phased out of production.

It wasn't until the mid the late 1980's until this beer would reappear again. Lewes based brewer Harvey's began negotiating with the descents of Albert Le Coq to acquire the original recipe. Soon very limited numbers of this beer began to appear for sale directly from the brewery and staying true to its legacy the Imperial Stout was awarded Gold at the International Beer Challenge 2012 and Gold in the Stouts and Porters Category at the International Beer Challenge 2013. Hopefully this beer lives up to its sky high reputation and history.
Extra Double Stout

Colour: Pouring a dark, jet black complete with a small tan coloured head, Harvey Imperial Double stout just encourages you to delve into its murky depths. The head will dissipate very quickly once in the glass, which disappoints me slightly as I really love a dense head on my stouts.

Aroma: As soon as I opened the bottle I smelt the acidic stench of vinegar. My first thought was perhaps the bottle was out of date or spoiled. I have been burnt by this before and I can remember the bitter disappointment of pouring the beer down sink. Seriously worried, I visited the Harvey's website in order to locate some tasting notes. Needless to say I was delighted to read that this vinegar aroma was indeed part of the nose of this beer. Thank God! Soon this sensation slowly lifts to give way to hints of dark chocolate and liquorice. Yum!

Body: This stout was actually a lot thinner than I was expecting, but I guess with this level of alcohol, it's hard for any beer feel dense. Perhaps my lusting after a bottle of Bristol Beer Factory Milk Stout has some what skewed my vision of what a perfect stout should be, but this drink is very, very different to this ideal. Without a hint of carbonation to speak, this beer feels like thick oil greasing every crevasse of your mouth. As it slowly sips down your throat, the alcohol will release a slight burn. This is definitely a slow drink to enjoy over the course of an evening.

Taste: As eluded to earlier, the first sip can be rather abrasive. The sour vinegar mixed with burnt coffee and bitter dark chocolate is certainly not to everyone's tastes. As the drink warms, the flavours begin to mellow. The vinegar notes become similar to that of sour dark cherries. The whole drink begins to taste like a divine slice of black Forrest cake with a subtle hint of soy sauce. Interesting combination hey? I personally really enjoyed this beer but be warned, this is not a beer for beginners! A beer with these qualities need to be worked up to, otherwise you will be put off for life and you will never get to enjoy this beautiful complex drink in all its glory. Sip it and serve at room temperature.

Extra Double Stout

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Cerveza Templaria said...

Me gustaría probarla, mmmhh una imperial extra doble.

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