Sweetwater Happy Ending
With one notable exception, Sweetwater has produced beers that have been right around or just below the middle of the pack. I still have some expectations for them based on that one exception, but the fact is that they have only shown a glimmer of hope in a sea of mediocrity. This imperial stout, however, may unlock the key to my heart and give me some reassurance that even fringe (although strangely mainstream) brewers can produce excellence.
The opaque brown liquid is topped by a dusky brown head that sticks to the sides of the glass with the fervent desperation of an unrequited lover just on the wrong side of controlled. The aroma is a slightly chocolaty malt and possibly a little hops. The impression is of a fairly standard imperial stout rather than some kind of special season-ending thing, but the taste shall tell.
First sip is chocolate malt and a bit of coffee. The label proudly proclaims the hops that are in it, and I thought I smelled some, but I don't taste any with a simple sip. Are they some kind of magic hops that don't actually have a taste? Is it possible the label lies like those protein bars I used to eat that got sued and subsequently changed their formula to a disgusting tasting shadow of the previous incarnation and hoped that no one would notice? Is it possible that the sip just isn't enough? Let's test that last one with a proper swig.
Tip-in is carbonation tingle and chocolate malt. The middle is a kind of chocolate and coffee mix without the milky smoothness that you might expect with something like a Starbucks mixture of that ilk. Instead, it's more smoky oak than milky smooth, and it has all the scattered charcoal that goes with it. The finish come on with more smoke and coffee and a slight bitterness of hops in the background without any real flavor.
Bottom Line: Honestly, it's not terrible, but it's not got a lot of character going for it.