This week John brings out a nearly two year old Russian Imperial Stout. He has two version of the beer. So we pour them both side by side and put my palate to the test.

October of 2015 we first time for this Russian Imperial Stout Tasting.

It was good then but as with all Imperial Stouts some age may do wonders for it. So John stashed away some bottles and this week he pulled out one of the last bottles of this version. Version? Yes there were two versions here. Some bottles have been quietly conditioning in the beer fridge. Sheltered from the mild swings of Johns basement temps. Another set of bottles were stored ambiently in the basement without active temperature control.

Upon first pouring both beers there was a wonderful chocolate and coconut aroma coming from the beers. Further inspection led to reveal that the cold stored version was the one with the real magical aroma. The ambient stout had a dulled roast note backed with some dark bread type of aroma. It was the cold stored beer that really sang in aroma with milk chocolate and coconut. The same differences held up in the flavor profiles.

The ambient beer is still a good stout. It was drier with less body. It was less sticky on the palate. The flavor was certainly more straight forward roast. A little aggressive actually. There was also a clear boozy quality to the ambient beer. The cold stored beer had a softer roast character with more chocolate and coconut. The body was bigger and more chewy. It ha d a complexity that was devine.

Hopefully, if there are any bottles left, the complexity will continue to improve and age out. Sadly there are probably no bottles of this left aside for some smaller format bottles for competition perhaps.

Oh well. I was surprised to see such a wonderful change in this stout. If one had simply aged the whole batch at ambient temps it would still be a great stout. Without the cold storage version however, you would have totally missed out on something very special.