Monday, January 10, 2011

Beereview: ATOTB #04 High Octane Imperial Stout

Back to real life everyone. The holidays are now over and everyone is coming down of the holiday euphoria and vacation time. For many of us, including myself the end of the holidays also means I don't get paid vacation from work until May (eek). But today I get to reveal some very exciting information I got back in December!

Lets backtrack a little bit. In November I submitted two beers to my very own CFHB's competition the Sunshine Challenge. The beers mentioned were ATOTB #02: Clean Blonde, and ATOTB #04: High Octane Imperial Stout. I got my results back in December, but was wrapped up in my Sam Adams Winter Classic reviews. I received two responses back for each beer, and yes, I will build the anticipation. Today we will start off reviewing #04 (as non-biased as I can), and then see what the judges have to say.

#04 pours pitch black, with a thick and lasting coffee-brown head. Thick enough to sculpt a hat with. Chocolaty and roasty aromas bombard the nose, but has very little hop presence. The first sip is smooth, and wonderfully bitter. Someone looking for a sweet beer need not apply. The beer has a very roasty and toasty flavor to it, however not too complex a flavor. After downing the first swing of beer, you're left with a warm (but not necessarily sharp) alcohol flavor to it. Which makes sense, since this beer weighs in at a mildly high alcohol content of 7.5% ABV. Definitely a good beer to enjoy on a cold winter day sitting next to a fire in the fireplace. Having the advantage of knowing that I intended this beer to be an imperial stout, I can also say the alcohol is a little light for the style, and the citrus that I added to the pot does not show through in the final product like I intended.

Alright judges, bring it.

Between the two judges, I averaged a 38.5 out of 50 which I am thrilled about. This falls in the "Excellent" range which is 38-44 points and described as "Exemplifies style well, requires minor fine tuning." For aroma, the judges enjoyed the malt smells, but said the roasted aromas were light and should be more pronounced for the style. Appearance was very good, and right in line with the style. Flavor is a big one counting for 20 of the total 50 points. The judges felt my malt and hops were well balanced, however the array of roasted malts was not complex enough, and they would like to see a little fruit complexity to the beer. The body of the beer was a little light for the style which demands a pretty hearty beer.

Finally I'll quote the final "overall impression" comments from the two judges on the beer. Overall impression counts for 10 points towards the 50.

Mike says "A very drinkable example. Not as complex as some, but well balanced and tasty. The alcohol is a little hot, perhaps it's [the beer] a little young. 7/10"

Charlie says "Very nice. Big flavors and good balance makes this a real pleasure. 8/10"

A real pleasure? These results sent me through the roof. I was extremely excited when I got these back. I also agree with every comment they gave me. I feel I could have a real winner hear with a little bit more fine-tuning. I'd like to raise the alcohol content a bit, and maybe throw in a few different varieties of roasted grains. I'd also like to add more citrus to it so that I get a slight citrus undertone to the beer.

What gets me even more excited though is the big red stamp adorned at the head of my score sheet, "Advanced to second round!". Hell yes! The competition works like this. Submit a beer to a style, get judged and move to the final round for that style, then move to the best in show round; much like a dog show for beers, and without all the creepy crimping and grooming given to the dogs. That means my beer made it to the finals for the style! If that's a motivator, I don't know what is!

1 comment:

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