If you know anything about me, then you know I have one other really big love other than beer and music: hockey. Let me take this opportunity to make all of my readers aware that my Friday night hockey team won our second straight championship game this past week. That’s right, it is a big deal! Now that we have gotten that out of the way, lets get down to the real reason for this post. Recently my wife took a little vacation to Canada with her mother. I of course only asked for one main gift while she was gone. That would be the gift of beer I could not find in our area. Now I feared for the worst and of course told her to not get me some of the names I’m familiar with. I was very trusting that she would come up with something better than Molson, Labatt Blue, or Moosehead. Thankfully she certainly did not disappoint. She brought home three very interesting bottles I have never seen or tasted before. The first of which is this fine little bottle here: La Vlie Maltee’s Criminelle Stout Imperial.
I, of course, don’t know a whole lot about this brewery or the history of this beer. Therefore, I knew I would have to do a little research to find out something about this beer. Unfortunately for me, I don’t speak french. This made it really hard for me to pull very much info off the bottle or the internet. There is however one thing that caught my eye on the bottle. There is a little notification that this brew won the World Beer Awards for best strong stout. Other than that, it was really hard to find much else out. I did notice that there were a few other reviews that were on some of the other big beer review sites. Once again, I could have learned something about the company if I actually spoke french. On to the review!
This beer had a really really intense black color to it. It’s really hard to describe something so dark as anything other than a dark black stout. Perhaps motor oil is a good way to put it. The other interesting coloring came in the head that developed on the beer. Although I have seen darker head on some other stouts and even porters, this one did have a nice thick rich dark head that developed after the initial pour. Swirling the glass created an ultra thick lacing on the sides of the glass. It definitely made me excited for the rich taste I was in for.
Smell wise there was some very coffee forward notes that are sort of typical of this particular style. It also had an almost oaky wood smell to it as well. You could definitely smell the malt backbone on this one. However, there was some very definite hops smells that lingered as well. I glanced at the bottle to see if there were any amount of hops in here. According to the bottle, there are 28 IBU’s in this one. Definitely not a hefty amount of hops; however, I was expecting to find some hops flavor somewhere in the tasting.
Tasting did have a few different levels to the flavors that took place on the palate. First and foremost, the heavy coffee and chocolate notes invade the taste buds. These definitely linger there for a little while, but they give way to that oaky woody taste that was also present in the smell. The woodiness isn’t too overpowering, but it is combined with the heavy malts that really bring a creamy feel to it. In the end, there is a surprising little bite of hops. I think someone could easily overlook the hops in the end, but then they would be wondering how this thick and creamy beer somehow became bitter in the end. Either way, being a fan of hops, I am glad to see that they haven’t been forgotten here.
The mouthfeel here does have a very creamy feel throughout most of the tasting; however, that is accompanied by a moderate amount of carbonation. This really assists in bringing a nice balance to the stout. I have definitely had a few different stouts that seem to rely on little to no carbonation. To me, while I enjoy the flavors of these other stouts, I always feel like I’m drinking a delicious flat soda. Therefore, I am really happy to see that this brewer decided to bring some nice carbonation in here.
All in all, I really enjoyed this stout. I think this may be one of those beers styles I don’t have often enough, but lately I have really enjoyed the darker beers. Guess I’m ready for summer to be over soon. I don’t know where you would find this one to pick up, but if you happen to see it somewhere in the stores, I would suggest giving it a try.
Teacher Grade: B+
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