Waking Up Is A Weird Way To Die
Okay, it’s crunch time. Nitros have been a hit and miss game in my book, with Left Hand Brewing offering me one win and one fail so far. The Nitro Milk Stout, covered earlier was surprising in the way in which it delivered a fuller body to an otherwise tame milk stout. The Sawtooth American Ale Nitro however, which I sampled last week on a radio spot you can find here, fell utterly flat resulting in everyone at the table opting for a drain pour. So, let us now see if this Russian Imperial Nitro can save the day.
Beginning with the standard hard pour that all nitros require, this Russian Imperial clouds up beautifully, with the foam head remaining at just the right quarter to half inch I want and the haze beneath swirling like a beautiful storm. Flat black in appearance, save for the off-white head, this stout looks to be the real deal. Taking in a sniff, rich notes of malt and subtle hints of coffee waft through the nose.
And it is rich. Very rich. At 10% ABV, the rich creamy flavor of this brew, which is seemingly exacerbated by the nitro spirit itself, blends together a profile of cream, light chocolate notes, even lighter coffee and a malt body that is superb, all while masking any real substantial traces of heavy boozy nature. Feeling rich and creamy in respect to mouthfeel, the brew possesses an altogether decadent feel to it, balancing the harder hitting aspects of an imperial stout with the mellowing qualities of nitro in what is a rather impressive manner.
I am so very distrusting of nitros. So much so, this one sat in my fridge for upwards of two weeks before I finally decided to give it a go. And so with this one, as with the previous milk stout nitro review, I’m tempted to say that, at least in bottle form, nitros require a certain weight and richness to the brews they go into, in order to work right.
With Old Speckled Hen, The Sawtooth and even the Old Chub nitro, the plying of this gassy addition to what are English pub ales, American ales and Scotch ales respectively, always seems to nullify whatever enjoyable aspects they may contain. This of course, speaking only of the bottle format, as it was some months ago during a beer dinner that while sampling the Old Chub Scotch Ale nitro on draft, I found it simply amazing. However in bottles, it would seem as though the best format for such a style is that of the stout and its weighty darker nature.
In this particular stout, as with the milk stout, I find that the nitro actually adds to the brew, rather than detracts. Though slightly mellowing in some respects, such as with the alcohol burn that a 10% brew would be expected to carry, it adds something of a lofty, creamy enhancement that might otherwise not be present. Having held an otherwise suspicious if not scornful opinion of nitros thus far, Left Hand Brewing has – by virtue of their stouts – given me cause to reconsider my position on the matter.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish my beer.
While the brewery may have provided the product mentioned above for free, I was not required to write a positive review, I did not receive any monetary compensation, and the honest opinions I have expressed are my own.
Nicholas Goroff is an actor, writer and craft beer reviewer at EveryJoe.com. Certified as a Cicerone beer server, he is working towards obtaining certification as a beer judge while employed at Bert’s Better Beers in Hooksett, NH. When not reviewing beer, wine and spirits, he is typically writing political essays, screenplays and short fiction. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
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