Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Craft Beer Review: Tuatara’s XV Limited Release Aged Russian Imperial Stout

It’s winter and that makes it the perfect time to tuck into the darker ales. Last week we popped the top on Boundary Breweries’ London Porter. It’s a cheaper craft beer, a lot cheaper than this week’s XV, but it delivered beautifully. This week we’re tackling one of the big boys on the market at the moment. To celebrate 15 years of brewing Tuatara have released a limited edition “XV Aged Russian Imperial Stout.” And it looks pretty impressive!

XV – 15 years of brewing for Tuatara.

Aged – they actually brewed and bottled the beer in August 2015 and have carefully cellared it ever since. It’s been stored away getting more and more complex over the last 12 months.

Stout – A stout is “more-or-less” a stronger version of a porter. Usually between 7% and 8% rather than around 5.5%. Always a dark and malty beer.

Russian Imperial – Russian Imperial stouts were a type of stout brewed in England for the Russian Court in the 18th Century. A Russian Imperial tended to be an even bigger version of a stout, anything from 9% through to 15%. This imperial by Tuatara is 11%. So an Imperial stout is a big beer.  As a side note, this is why double IPAs are often called Imperial IPAs. Not because they were brewed for Russia, but because they are big beers as well; imperial has become synonymous with big beers.

Big with a stout doesn’t just mean alcohol though. Stouts are big across the board. Lots of different dark malts create potential for all sorts of flavours to come through; chocolate, coffee, liquorice, caramel, toffee, maple syrup etc. Lots of malts also mean space for plenty of hops (if a brewer wants to add hops), some stouts are very very light when it comes to hops. Tuatara has brewed this stout with Simcoe and Amarillo hops though, and it has an IBU bitterness rating of 100. That’s really high! Their Double Trouble APA was 165 and off the scale, while their IPA (probably my favorite beer) sits at 40. And even at 40 the hops come through still. So 100 is pretty hoppy. It will be really interesting to see the balance of this beer.  

Here we go!!!

Price: $17.99 500mils

Alcohol content: 11%

Colour: Black, deep dark black. Almost oily as it pours. Like molasses, so better grab a knife and a fork. It has a dark macchiato head. Looks amazing. Hold it up to the light and there is no colour coming through; it’s pitch black!

Aroma: Smell is delicious. Strong liquorice aroma. Coffee and chocolate. Also though, there are sour or herbaceous hoppy notes coming through too. Yum! 

Palate: This is genuinely amazing. And so much happening! At first there is a hot hoppy tang, but it is warm and tingly, almost like a liqueur. It feels so thick and creamy. The hops combine with the malts and offer a big liquorice flavour which then transforms into strong espresso coffee. This is awesome!

Finish: As you swallow the coffee is strong and then smooths out to a dark chocolate finish. Real dark chocolate though, like 80% cocoa, so it leaves a warm and bitter aftertaste. As you sit though, this mellows and your mouth feels like it has been painted with caramel sauce and crushed chocolate coated coffee beans. It’s delightful.  

On the Chart: This beer is about as complex as it gets. Surely! You’ll only going to see the bottom of the black bottle hanging down on the chart. It is a very complex beer and jumps straight to the top.  It’s an oily and black with so much malty goodness, but at the same time the hops come through wonderfully as well. Even though it has an IBU rating of 100, I’ll still be putting it in the malty section of the chart. The hops are not overpowering or harsh at all.

Conclusion: This beer was an absolute delight. Ballast Points’ Indra Kunindar Curry Stout is an amazing beer too, but you feel like you’ll only ever need to have it once in your life. This Tuatara XV felt like a beer worth getting again and again to share with friends. It may have already sold out though, so if you are after a bottle get one quick. $17.99 obviously makes it a more expensive beer, but well worth it. It really is a taste sensation!

Next week we'll check out Fat Monk's Raspberry Wheat Beer.

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