The Hargreaves Hill’s Russian Imperial Stout is a much-loved release at Crafty Towers, with the annual beer tending to blend complexity, richness and drinkability each time it arrives. All the more impressive too, is how that complexity tends to be developed without the aid of barrels but more recent times have brought some very rare exceptions to that rule, first with V.S.O.P brandy barrels in 2019 and for the first time, 2021 has brought a bourbon-aged release. It sold out in a near-instant from the brewery’s online store too (but it’s still available from multiple indie retailers at the time of writing - see below), so it’s safe to say there’s a fair bit of interest in what is the pioneering brewery’s most limited beer in some years.
As for what’s in the 440ml tin, the brewery’s RIS spent six months aging in bourbon barrels for a result that makes it even richer than the “wave of glutenous, fudgy molasses, cacao and figs” we described the most recent incarnation the imperial stout as providing. In fact, it’s quite hard to describe how smooth and voluptuous the beer is without using the term “fudge” again and again while adding the addendum that this would be fudge made with no shortage of bourbon and its associated sweeter spirit flavours. Largely gone too are the roasted edge from the original and while there is a touch of espresso coffee, largely, it's pronounced vanilla and a wave of brown sugar and molasses swirling through the glass.
Published August 25, 2021 2021-08-25 00:00:00