Review: Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout '12, Widmer Brothers

Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout '12
Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. — Portland, OR

  • Style:  Imperial Stout
  • Bitterness:  70 IBU
  • ABV:  9.3%
  • Malts:  Pale, Roast Barley, Caramel 60L, Midnight Wheat, Chocolate Malt
  • Hops:   Alchemy, Willamette, Cascade
  • Sampled: 22 oz. bottle  (full disclosure: sample provided by brewery)

Description: "An extremely rich and complex beer, the addition of raspberries during the fermentation process results in an almost purplish opaque color with a beautiful brown head. Warm chocolate and roasty notes compliment the hop bitterness." — Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. 

Random thoughts:  Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout is part of Widmer Brothers' new Alchemy Project, a line of beer made to be aged. The two other beers in the Alchemy series are Barrel Aged Brrrbon and Old Embalmer Barleywine, which will be released later this year.

The tasting:  Near black in color, with a dark tan head that dissipates very slowly. Aroma of roasted malt, coffee, and raspberry. The raspberry is prominent in aroma, but not overpowering. Very nice, overall! Flavor starts with roasted malt (which has a bit of smokiness to it) and coffee. Dark chocolate and a faint raspberry is noticeable in the middle. While strong in aroma, the raspberry is more subdued in flavor. The tartness from the raspberry does not hold up against the roasted malt and coffee. Overall sweetness is low. Hop bitterness is solid, but not as high as its 70 IBUs might imply. RRIS is medium bodied, moderately carbonated, and has a smooth mouth feel. It finishes with roasted malt and light coffee notes. The alcohol is noticeable in the middle and finish, but for a 9.3% ABV brew, it goes down quite easily.

Rating:  3 star.  Good.  I would drink this again if someone gives it to me.  I'm a big fan of Imperial Stouts and I liked RRIS. I just wish the raspberry was more prominent in flavor. In my humble opinion, the piney hop bitterness also seemed a bit out of place amongst the roasted and chocolate malt.

But hold on—this review is not complete. The beauty of the Alchemy Project is that it will show us how a well-made beer evolves over time. I've stashed away another bottle of  bottle of RRIS '12 and will taste it again in a year or two. I expect the edges of alcohol and hop bitterness will smooth out with age. Hopefully, the raspberry will emerge in flavor. We shall see. To be continued...

Have you tried Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout '12? How did you like it?

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