Whenever people find out about a potentially cataclysmic snowstorm coming their way, their minds go to a few narrow places. Bread and milk, get off the roads, gas in the snowblower, wood for the fireplace, and the less rational app update of Instagram for all the pretty snow pictures. All seem like priorities other than the latter, however for this impending blizzard, I also was thinking of pretty things. Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project that is, from the 30 inches of snow state known as Massachusetts. For this winter storm, I reached in my cellar for an imposing Russian Imperial Stout to keep up with the weather. I’m hoping it keeps me warm an roasty like a 17th century fire. Time for them numbers…
Appearance: Trying to see through this beer is like staring at a wall and trying to see the sun. It is jet black with no hope of any rays making their way through the glass. When poured it gave a nice, dark tan head that was frothy and soft, however it didn’t last for very long at all.
Smell: Big roasted grains, molasses, anise, slight chocolate and coffee notes, spice, and faint leather. This stout smells bold and brash.
Taste: The depth of flavor in this bottle would rival the Mariana Trench. I first get grains that are so roasty you need a fire extinguisher to put them out. They give off a charred onion taste with a little bit of spiciness you can detect on the palate after you swallow. Notes of coffee, the darkest chocolate, and a little smoke are also raveled up in the flavor of the malt with some bitter-sweet molasses shoving its way through a densely packed grain field. As you get accustomed to the ferocity of the grain, the beer begins to sweeten a fair amount, especially as it warms. The texture of the beer coats the entire palate with a blanket of sweet grain on the finish, very similar to how the wort of an imperial stout would taste before the boil. That sweetness can also be attributed to this beer’s massive ABV as well.
Speaking of the texture on this brew, it was one of the first things I noticed. It might be the most silky and velvety beer I’ve ever had; I don’t recall a beer quite as smooth as this one. The body bolsters this RIS, but it does cut down on the drinkability here. It’ll take some time before this bomber is finished. The carbonation pairs perfectly with such a full bodied beer – it’s there, but just enough to evenly distribute the liquid across the tongue. As hinted before, the ABV on this beer is nothing to scoff at, ringing it at 12%. Suprisingly, it does not drink hot nor can you specifically pick out the booze from the rest of the brash flavors in here.
Overall: Barbapapa is an insane RIS and one of the best I’ve come across. This brew is certainly not for the timid or occasional stout drinker – it’s assertive, aggressive, and fully Soviet. I give this brew an A. A necessity for any winter storm.