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Notes of a Beer Nerd: Victory Brewing Co. Storm King Imperial Stout

Storm King: Bringing the best out of PA beer.

***Notes of a Beer Nerd is a column written by resident cellar dwelling mammal, Timperial Stout. Feel free to e-mail him at beerblotter@gmail.com with any questions, concerns or comments***

Enjoyed on 5/22/2010

Brewery: Victory Brewing Co.

Location: Downingtown, PA

Beer: Storm King

Web: http://www.victorybeer.com/

Presentation: 12 oz. – Brown Glass Bottle – Capped

Vintage: 2007

Style: Imperial Stout

Barrel: N/A

ABV: 9.1%

IBU: N/A

Hops: American whole flowers

Malt: Imported 2 row

Vessel: Snifter

Recommended Serving Temp: 55 degrees

Notes From the Bottle: Emerging from the deepest shades of darkness, a rolling crescendo of flavors burst forth from this robust stout.  The thundering, hoppy appeal of Storm King subsides into the mellow subtleties of roasted malt, exhibiting an espresso-like depth of character in its finish.  An exquisite blend of imported malts and whole flower American hops merge harmoniously in this complex ale.  Discover the dark intrigue of Storm King, as it reveals the rich, substantial flavors that it holds within.  Cheers!  Signed - Bill and Ron, the brewmasters of Victory.  Best enjoyed by 7/2012.

Food Pairings: Smoked meats, chocolate, deserts

Cheese Pairings: Gouda, brie, swiss

Beer Advocate: A-

Rate Beer: 100 (4.06)

Timperialstout’s Notes:

Seattle Beer Week has gotten the best of me.  My event schedule, whether it be for my own pleasure or at the will of my employer (which is still pretty damn pleasurable I must admit), has ensnared all of my availability over the last 10 days.  Near the beginning of the week, when my energy level was high, I was able to pump out my guide to Stout Fest.  I had great hopes of drafting a similar guide to Sour Fest, but time did not allow.  Now that SBW is over, though I’m a bit sad to see her go, I can finally breath.  I can get some sleep.  I can remember what it’s like to wake up without a hangover.

I had a lot of really, really good beers from all over the country over the past week.  I met a lot of really great people in the industry.  I met a lot of beer lovers.  I think I’ll look back on SBW 2010 with very fond memories.

The night of this tasting was one of great reminiscence.  A night to mull over the greatness, to enshrine the memories created over the previous days.  Not only that, but to reminisce on the beginnings of Timperial Stout.  To take a time machine journey to a young man’s first sips of imperial stout, that precious beverage that would inevitably endow him with a nick-name.

Incase you haven’t put the pieces together, Storm King was the first imperial stout I ever tasted.  Downingtown, PA is just a small hop, skip, and jump from where I grew up.  To put it lightly, Storm King is my monarch.  He has had a large hand in molding me.

This one has been aging in the cellar for 3 years now, and a classic imperial stout just seemed right for such an evening of recollection.  It was not a hard decision.

The King pours opaque as one would imagine, with a head of mocha that rises much more than expected on a vigorous pour, but still very little than an inch off the inky fluid.  The bubbles subside in a few minutes to a mere ring and wisp, leaving a small bit of residue on the glass walls.  The slightest bit of light makes it through the edges, but in the depths… there is no escape for the brightest illumination.  Consider the “dark intrigue” discovered, without a single sip.

The odor is overwhelming me with its complexity.  There is so much going on I don’t know where to start.  Adjectives like deep and distinguished come to mind.  Ironically, this brew seems to be built for the mature palate.  It posses a combination of tobacco, smoked peat, and baker’s chocolate, with a bit of a medicinal quality as well.  The alcohol is quite present.  I’m reminded of smelling vanilla extract with its warming sensation deep in the nose.  Age seems to be flying its flag quite predominantly here.  Hops may be the producer of a bit of earth and medicine, but no traditional alpha characteristics can be found.

I just may bundle this brew in with the Arcadia Impy Stout for its ability to drop you in the red-hot coals of a BBQ.  Smoke rises from the feet of a magician named Bill Covaleski.

Once the holy liquid hits the tongue, all preconceptions previously communicated from the nose are solidified into truth.  A common slick and soft mouthfeel puts me at ease right from the get go…ahhh, that’s my impy stout, thank you friend, you’ve been missed.

Though this monster has clearly been bequeathed with malty mischief, there isn’t a lot of sweetness.  Like I said, this is for the veteran palate.

Though no bit of the fluid should suggests a chalkiness, the flavors speak of ingesting the work of mortar and pestle.  If a mocha could be solidified, then ground down to dust and fermented, this would be the result.  Barrel aged, peated scotch may be akin to the Storm King as well, I can’t help but mention that infiltrating thought.

Post-swallow I’m a bit cotton-mouthed under the tongue, but the back corners of my mouth are moist with confusion.  What aftertaste lingers?  I think of devil’s food cake, but the sweetness is extracted.  A very high cocoa content perhaps.   A bit of clinging, oily black coffee or espresso.  Have I smoked a cigar recently?  Have I breathed deeply beside the bonfire for a bit too long.  My mouth could be burnt without the pain.

Smoke signals sent high above the treeline convey my peace with the world at this moment.  I’ve been rejoined by an old friend, and in good company I transcend.

If you like Storm King, you should try…

Arcadia Ales‘ Imperial Stout; Stone Brewing Co.’s Russian Imperial Stout; Founders Brewing Co.’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout

Disclaimer: This beer was purchased on my own with my own hard-earned money at a local bottle shop, and aged to perfection by yours truly.

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