Blue Monkey’s Silverback in the USSR

4 Jun

Name: Silverback in the USSR
Brewery: Blue Monkey
Type: Russian Imperial Stout
Alcohol Volume: 10.5
From: The Offie, Leicester
Price: £4.95
Drink: Cool
In short: The WMD they were searching for; dark, thick and strong, yet not lacking depth.

2013-06-03 17.56.28

Alcohol strength in beer can be a funny thing; an overly hopped medium strength beer can be harder to drink than a craft beer that has more alcohol that you can shake a stick at in. In essence, this is because alcohol is a component and not the be all and end all of taste – the malts, the hops and all other ingredients combine to make a single cohesive brew.

But of course the alcohol content of a brew certainly makes a big difference. Lower alcohol beers can taste watery in the same way that a high alcohol beer can be far too strong to actually enjoy.

This handily brings me on to the subject of Blue Monkey’s Silverback in the USSR. This is a Russian Imperial Stout, a variation of stout originally brewed for export to the court of the Russian Tsar in the eighteenth century. Now, to survive the long sea voyage to St. Petersburg they were brewed rather stronger than your average stout; my previous trip to the land of Imperial Stout was with Thornbridge’s 7.4% St. Petersburg. This is rather stronger, coming in at 10.5%. In fact, I’m pretty sure that it’s the strongest beer that I’ve sampled so this is new ground for me.

In the glass it certainly looks the part of an Imperial Stout – black to the point that I can fix my hair in the reflection on the glass itself with just a bit of a similarly dark head. On closer inspection, it has an aroma that is both slightly medicinal and chocolaty, something like a normal high strength stout but just that little bit more so.

The taste certainly doesn’t disappoint. The first impression that I got was the dark and almost treacle-like thickness of the texture which was very shortly followed by tones of liquorice and the underlying bitterness of the alcohol. It must be said that the strength of the alcohol almost overpowers the taste; the first mouthful made me recoil slightly. When this combines with the textures, this beer almost gives the impression of being more than just a liquid. But it does have a good depth of flavour, with the hints of liquorice and chocolate coming through quite distinctly. Nor is it unbalanced, as every sip certainly left me ready for another, if not another whole bottle.

Needless to say, this is one to sip slowly, perhaps whilst occupying your winter palace or whilst residing in the depths of a Siberian research facility. This is most definitely a beer of winter, as much as last week’s Partizan was a beer of summer, and much like winter you certainly wouldn’t want too much of it. Just a bottle is enough.


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