I’ll let more knowledgeable pens write about the events and conversations that led to #impoff. In a moment of pure self-indulgence I’ll just discuss my own experience.
On Saturday night I was due to travel down to Chester to see some friends. When this was duly cancelled on Friday I was faced with preparing for a Saturday night in alone. Fortunately, there was another twitter tasting taking place on Imperial Stouts. Unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared in the slightest and originally thought I would need some of the 8 beers set to be discussed to truly participate. I only had a De Molen and a Nᴓgne Impy in reserve. So on Friday night I went to my local organic shop which boasts a full range of Thornbridge beers, including St. Petersburgh, a full range of Buxton beers, except for Tsar and a full range of Sam Smiths, except for the Imperial Stout! There was one I’d never seen before by Liverpool Organic Brewery but this meant on Saturday I had to broaden my search and go to the city centre.
In the end I thought, heck it doesn’t really matter if I have a few different Imperial Stouts involved. It’ll make it a little more exciting. I’d had the majority of those on the official list anyway. I found out in the evening that I was not alone. So this was my final decided line-up.
I started with the weakest and the one I had fairly low expectations about – the Samuel Smiths Imperial Stout. I had this beer years ago, before I even knew what an Imperial Stout was. And I have no recollection of what I thought about it then. It’s a deep dark brown colour with a sweet scent. It’s initially dates, maple syrup and Chomp bars. The taste is sweet too. This definitely reminds me more of a Chocolate stout with that caramel and syrup tongue. The aftertaste is bonfire lollies and liquorice. I like this. I’m pleasantly surprised. I only saw one other tweeter mention the Sam Smiths all night and they disgraced it. I think it’s too easy to give Sam Smiths a hard time. It’s different from the more “in-your-face” modern Imperial Stout but it’s a good beer.
Next was the Thornbridge St Petersburg which I’ve experienced before but let’s ignore that. Darker than the Sam Smiths and more malts and peatiness on the nose. It tastes strong too initially, more than I remember. As it warms there’s that Black Jack sweetness with a woodchip afterthought. But overall this is unbalanced and strong. I’ve had it much better before.
Time for something completely new for me that I’d never heard of before – Liverpool Organic Brewery’s Imperial Russian Stout. It’s deep purple in colour with no head at all. The scent is Parma Violets and Lavender for some reason. The taste matches it. There’s a floral aura to this that’s reminiscent of Fraoch. A darker personality comes through towards the end but the booze level is unnoticeable. I like it. I just wouldn’t reach for it if I felt in the mood for an Imperial Stout.
So it was then that I reached for the Marble Decadence with a schoolboy skip in my step. Am I excited? Like its Christmas. And when isn’t popping corks from bottles, with that mixture of joy and fear as it hits the glass cabinet, insanely fun? As soon as the cork is on the floor the sweetest smell fills the room. I don’t even want to intellectualise it. It’s just mouth-watering impy goodness. The taste is heavenly. As soon as I started drinking this I knew this would become one of my favourite beers and decided I didn’t want to have to contemplate serious tasting notes. I just sat and revelled in this 750ml bottle. I’ve written in my notes all the following words: Vanilla, cappuccino, boozy mince pies, Bassets allsorts, Black Jacks, Chocolate Ice Cream… I think I may have been enjoying it! It’s just so good. Perfectly balanced. Scarily drinkable. Brilliantly flavourful. A little dissipated…
I wrapped up my #impoff night here with a few bottles of Ageless, partly because I needed some hops, partly because others were finishing, partly to make it just British Imperials, but mainly because I knew at this stage I wouldn’t have savoured and appreciated the others as they deserved. On the whole it was another great Twitter tasting experience, great to chat to others and read their experiences and the cleanest fun you can have on a night in on your own. Though that Decadence was pure filth.