Imperial Stout - Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City
The long awaited return of Boulevard's Imperial Stout is nearly upon us (unless you live outside of Kansas City, in which case you can probably already find it at your local liquor store). The last batch of Imperial Stout was bottled in January 2008. It's a popular beer, one that people have been asking about it's return for three years now. I don't know what the reason was for the hiatus, I'm just glad it's over. The last time I had a glass of Imperial Stout was in December of 2008 and I remember liking it a little too much... It was at the end of a night where a lot of good beer was being passed around, so I definitely wanted to revisit it. Three years later, I've finally got my chance.
Imperial Stout pours a dark black color with a brown head. There's a thick layer of foam on this beer and most of that sticks around for a while, by the end of the glass you'll just have a thin ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass. The aroma in this glass is pleasant and a little surprising. There's nothing terribly unique about the Imperial Stout's aroma, but it is a little different. There's definitely a whiskey barrel aged character to the Imperial Stout but it seems different than most barrel aged beers. This beer smells a lot like Boulevard's Bourbon Barrel Quad, I'm going to assume that's because the same type of barrels were used. The barrel aroma is less whiskey and more like a sour barrel beer, that could just be me associating this barrel character with the BBQ rather than the Imperial Stout.
On the other hand, the Imperial Stout tastes different than you'd exepect from a beer called an Imperial Stout and aged in whiskey barrels. Again, this beer isn't unique necessarily, but it's definitely remarkable. Boulevard Imperial Stout is one of the most well balanced Imperial Stouts I've ever had. This beer is dangerous at 11% ABV, because it is infinitely smooth with no bitterness or huge malt component. There's a lot of traditional Stout in this beer, but it is quite a departure from most Imperial Stouts.
There's a big sweet whiskey barrel flavor you get right up front when you take a sip of this beer. The Imperial Stout isn't sour by any means but it has a tangy, sweet flavor to it that some people are describing as Bretty. That's a bit of a leap in my opinion, there are some Brett characteristics but this beer tastes much more like a barrel aged sweet Stout and calling it a Stout with Brettanomyces would be a disservice both to this beer, and any Stout out there that has Brett in it.
Boulevard's Imperial Stout is so smooth and well balanced that it would be the perfect entry point for someone looking to explore the more robust end of the craft beer spectrum. This beer has big flavors in it, but they're all so well rounded that you'll have no problem downing a whole 750 of this 11% ABV Imperial Stout.