New England Brewing Company, Imperial Stout Trooper

Grade: B
New England Brewing Co.

Alright, this beer had better be worth the 10 bucks I just shelled out for a 12 ouncer. I've only heard of it's greatness, but now I guess it's literally time to put my money where my mouth is.

Pours like motor oil, dark and viscous. No head to speak of, but I did pour cautiously. Obsidian black, like all light is being sucked into it. Aroma is powerful and pungent. Dark, caramel, molasses and roast dominate the nose, with some alcohol notes as well. There is a deep, developed character to the aroma that makes me think that there is a lot going on here, in the malt and in the yeast esters as well. A bit of fruit in the back of the nose, some raisin and dates, plum as well.

Mouthfeel is heavy, coating, with some slight spritz from the carbonation, but not much. There is some sweetness in the front and middle palette, but it isn't cloying. Deep raisin and date flavor, some roast and bread as well. The caramel sweetness is very present in the middle palette and likes to hang around. There is an alcohol flavor but no burn or warming. Coffee and chocolate start to come out the more you sip. Plum is the highest note in the flavor, the bright spot, with bitter dark mocha being the low mark. The end is not quite dry, but more like the feeling of tannins from a deep red wine.

With every sip you are forced to re-evaluate your perception of this beer. If you take your time, there are layers that can be peeled back to reveal new and interesting attributes. By no means is this a beginners beer. This is the double black diamond, and it threatens to put newbies in a sling. Even as I type this, sipping as I go, the flavors battle for superiority on my tongue. This is a journey into the deep, dark jungle, where only the brave drinkers dare venture. Coffee, caramel, dates, plums, bread, burnt toast, raisins...all of these are the dominating flavors here. Delivered on the thick and alcohol rich mouthfeel, these flavors combine into a challenging, and thought provoking beer.

Why the B you say? Because honestly, this is just too much. On my beer scale, drinkablity holds an important role, and there is no way I'm going to order a second pint of this. If I'm sitting back in my study in front of a roaring fire, reading Thoreau and smoking a fine pipe, I might consider a snifter of Imperial Stout Trooper. The other 99.7% of the time, I'm going to go for something a little less difficult.