|Black Albert Royal Stout
De Struise Brouwers
De Panne, Belgium
Style: Imperial Stout
Aroma: An explosion of coffee and cocoa. Background of ripe bananas and smoke with whiffs of molasses, brown sugar, earthy mushrooms, spices, and dried fruit. Light herbal hop character.
Appearance: Creamy dark tan head that would not go away. Looks like the foam on a cappuccino. Pitch black. Blacker than black. No light gets through this beer.
Flavor: Rich coffee and bittersweet chocolate carries over from the aroma with mellow roasted malt, not burnt. This tastes like nothing so much as the cookie part of an Oreo. Oh, for some milk to dunk this beer into. Alcohol is noticeable, but not hot. Brown sugar sweetness on the tip of the tongue compliments the complex subtle fruit flavors, cherries, prunes, figs. There is a bit of a bitter bite in the middle, but the 100 IBU is balanced by the huge malt. An appealing hint of earthy funkiness and sourness comes in as the beer warms. The roast carries into the sweet finish and lingers for a long time.
Mouthfeel: Full body, but not as chewy as some Imperial Stouts. I like this. Creamy with low carbonation. Nice warming alcohol.
Overall Impression: This is a world class beer. It is probably not worth $10 for an 11 oz. bottle, but excellent nonetheless. It carries its 13% alcohol extraordinarily well. It is beautiful to look at, easy to drink, and tremendously complex. Roasty, but not bitter or astringent. I find myself wanting to dunk chocolate chip cookies into this beer. A bowl of chocolate chip ice cream would also be nice. It would be a fine accompaniment to a rich, saucy roast beef preparation.