Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Founders: Imperial Stout

There are many imperial stouts that deserve your attention, but if you are to select just one before the weather warms up (or one to see in the colder months - depending on location), may it be this one.

If Founders’ need an introduction, you may kindly surrender your beer enthusiast’s card right now – and the gun, too.  If, however, you are familiar with this excellent Michigan-based brewery’s work, you will know that their IPAs, stouts and porters are beers to be reckoned with.  Founders’ Imperial Stout is, in short, stands tall among their very finest while also being one of the finest stouts on the planet.  Prepare yourself for a ballet of aromas, textures and flavours most sensual.

Two things struck my attention right from the off: the sharp and boozy raspberry aroma and the darkest head I have seen of any beer, ever. The aforementioned head quickly dissipates to virtually nothing.  Founders’ Imperial Stout features a gloriously smooth, low-in-carbonation mouthfeel that is absolutely for this beer's individual character and flavours.

Founders Imperial Stout is as intense as it is complex. This remarkable brew boldly boasts sweet, syrupy cherry that dances on the lips, cacao and brandy that holds the floor upon the tongue, tobacco, mocha, burnt toast characters that pirouette across the full palate (nearly drunkenly going arse-over-turkey at the cheeks) before the performance finishes with an Italian dark roasted coffee and burnt date bow to the audience. It has to be experienced to be believed.  What hops have been used to balance out the act here, I do not know, however one does not immediately think of hops during or after the experience.

Moreover, according to the brewery, no fewer than 10 malted barley varieties have been used to create this picture of elaboration.

So delectably smooth, Founders imperial stout even makes Enya sound good. Let the dance take over your senses while listening to some good music in a comfy recliner by the fire.

Paired with all day breakfast (featuring: sausages, poached eggs, veal steaks, pork belly, mushroom and sweet potato hash browns)

My good friend Karl cooked up this meaty extravaganza of a brunch for me on this rather chilly October afternoon. There are some elements of the meal that paired well, others not so well. The imperial stout was absorbed and completely cancelled out by the veal steak; only upon adding sweet honey mustard and a smidge of hot English did the combination sing in full, sweetened harmony.

Sausage, egg and avocado: here, elements of the combination bounced off one another brilliantly, with the avocado and egg providing textural depth while the sausage took on a sweet, charred complexity. Then, combining the slightly burnt hash browns and pork belly (replete with mustard) completed this joyous experience; an interplay between flavours of char, treacle, pork meat and even barbecue sauce ensued. The stout did well in slicing through the fat of both the sausage and the pork belly, thereby readying me for more of... everything.

In spite of the veal steaks not quite matching, this was a great pairing all around.

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