Recently I posted the results of an Imperial Stout blind taste test that was wildly popular. If my readers want to get up close and personal with this dark and burly style of beer who am I to argue. Lord knows the weather is wintry enough to make you turn to a beer that can warm you up from the inside. So starting today I am initiating a series of posts I call Sunday Stout Soliloquies. Every Sunday I will review a different stout until we can all agree that winter is well behind us, which on the current trajectory might not happen until late April.
I’m going to kick things off with a local gem, Dark Apparition by Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery down in Athens, OH. I picked up a bottle this past summer that has patiently been waiting in my
cellar basement for the right occasion. I don’t think the weather can get much more winter-like so this seems like the perfect weekend to finally crack it open.
- Brewery: Jackie O’s (Athens, OH)
- Style: Imperial Stout
- ABV: 10.5%
- IBUs: 75
- Price: $5.99 for a 375 mL bottle
At $6 for a 375 mL (12.6 oz) bottle Dark Apparition falls on the pricey side of the craft beer universe, but I for one am glad it comes in 375 mL bottle. When you’re the only one drinking a 750 mL bottle of 10.5% abv beer packs a pretty big wallop. The beer is described this way on the label:
“This hauntingly good brew in your hand is rife with dark complexities. Seven malts were used to create deep flavors of coffee, chocolate, caramel and molasses. A hint of bitterness and herbal character from selected European and American hops help support the monlithic maltiness. A truly decadent brew that is intended to be poured into your favorite snifter and given time to warm up from its dark and cool resting place.”
Imperial stouts are the darkest of beers and this one is no exception, if you are looking for highlights tune into SportsCenter because there aren’t any here. The black liquid is topped by a minimal but appropriately mocha colored head. The nose is a complex blend of dark chocolate and vanilla, with accents of dark fruit, black licorice, and booze thrown in for good measure. The taste is unbelievably smooth for such a big, rich beer. The initial wave of flavor is chocolate-forward, but before too long dark fruit and molasses flavors join the party. The finish is one complex bad mama jama bringing the full force of the complex malt bill – chocolate, molasses, coffee, dark fruit, black licorice and the ghost of Phil Lynott. The mouthfeel is as thick and chewy as a Geezer Butler bass line. I can’t taste the hops in the midst of this massive malt assault, but it’s exquisitely well balanced. I’m not going to say this goes down as easy as your wheat beer (say Razz Wheat), but for 10.5% abv the alcohol is well hidden aside from a pleasant warming sensation on the finish.
Jackie O’s has nailed it with this beer. Incredible complexity without resorting to adjuncts, intense flavor profile yet still highly drinkable. Dark Apparition is a classic imperial stout in the same vein as Bell’s Expedition Stout. Had I entered this beer in my recent Imperial Stout blind taste test I’m confident it would have finished in the upper half. Rejoice Ohio beer lovers because this is an elite Imperial Stout that can hang with the best in the land. If you come across Dark Apparition at your local beer store snag a bottle before they all disapparate. If you don’t the decision could come back to haunt you.
Rating scale: 10 = perfection, 9 = excellent, one of the top beers in the world, 8 = very good, one of the top beers in its style category, 7 = good, a solid beer I’m happy to be drinking, 6 = average, not bad but not something I’m likely to buy again, 5 = below average, 3-4 = poor, should be avoided, 1-2 drainpour.