Infernal Empire by ClubGonzo, Imperial Stout, 12.5% ABV, 79 IBU.
Finally, my favourite beer style, an imperial stout! For his 40th batch ClubGonzo makes his very first attempt at this demanding style, and he goes in with full force: this little 25 cl bottle is packed with chipotle, espresso, vanilla beans, cocoa nibs and honey!
Hardly any sound escapes as I remove the cap, so I suspect that this one is very softly carbonated. The suspicion is further enhanced when I pour my glass: I end up with a pitch black body with a few bubbles that disappears completely quite quickly. As there is no head there is no lacing either.
The dark roasted aroma is strong and very dominated by dry coffee. As the beer warms up a little I also get sweet vanilla and chocolate.
The flavour is veeeeryaaahAAAH! AAAAH! Sorry, it’s just took my first sip of this hellish brew, and my tongue is melting! If the coffee dominated the aroma, it’s definitely the chipotle that runs the show when it comes to the flavour and the mouthfeel: this is burning hot! Initially the first sip feels well balanced, but after a couple of seconds the chipotle marches in and drowns the other flavours effectively. I’m a bit of a sissy when it comes to hot foods and drinks, but I know that my palate gets used to the hotness after a little while, so I keep drinking. After a few more sips I begin to appreciate the beer. True, it’s very hot, but not overwhelmingly so, and the slightly smoked chipotle allows other elements to play along: dark roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, light vanilla and a fitting touch of well integrated and clean alcohol. Having said that, please go easier on the chillies next time, if you want to please this little wimp. The taste is moderate sweet and quite heavy bitter.
It’s completely flat on the palate, it’s full-bodied and has a oily texture. I don’t expect beers of this strength to be lively carbonated, but a couple of bubbles would have been nice.
Conclusion: A powerful and complex imperial stouts with lots of components, but a bit too hot.
Aroma: 7/10 Appearance: 2/5 Taste: 7/10 Palate: 3/5 Overall: 14/20 Ratebeer score: 3.3/5.0