Yep, you weissbier fans are out of luck again. This week’s trip to Mineo’s hauled in a sixer of Dogfish Head’s insanely-good category-defying Raison D’Etre and, new for me, the Fat Dog Imperial Oatmeal Stout from Stoudt’s. Neither of those go very well with a pizza but I figured what the hell, we will have five more of each to go with whatever we want.
Imperial beer gets its name from a special mix of heavily toasted barley malt brewed for the Imperial Russian court. Regardless of whether the Russian Imperial Stout was the first BIG beer in terms of specific gravity (malt sugar), hops and alcohol content, naming conventions today stick the adjective Imperial (or ‘double’) into any monster-big pilsner, ale or IPA. Imperial/Double Stouts are often aged in oak barrels left over from whiskey or sherry making, hints of which were definitely detectable in the Fat Dog. You don’t expect much of a head from a 9% ABV beer although what little bit there is quickly leaves behing sticky lace, which is a good sign. This is the sort of intensely-dark beer where the last drop in the glass practically fills your mouth with chocolate maltiness. Alcohol bitterness greets you up front and a relatively thin aftertaste lingers on the palate, but the action in between is more than worth the trip. You get the hints of chocolate and coffee that come standard with a big stout plus tannins and sherry (whiskey? damn my mediocre palate) from the barrel aging. Oatmeal in the malting process has provided chewier sweetness than what I noticed here, for example the superlative foil-capped version from Samuel Smith’s.
The stout demanded too much respect to go with a pizza (for that my top choice might be Sierra Nevada Pale Ale) but on following nights it paired reasonably well with both chicken in cream and garlic sauce and a dry-aged ribeye with fingerling potatoes. Show dog beers like this pretty much demand a meal to match. As always, read more at BA.