Buxton Stillwater Subluminal Imperial Stout

The thing about these Stillwater beers is that they may classify themselves as "artisanal" but they have been particularly good. Even so, I've had this beer waiting in my fridge for me to swig for quite some time - I have been avoiding it. The only rational reason I can give for wanting to avoid it is the fact that artisanal beers are too often crap.

Everything about the presentation puts me in mind of one of the bourbon barrel aged beers. It has that thick, syrupy texture. Even with a slow pour, the head on this thing just will not die down. Lacing is a frilly affair with tendrils remaining on the glass all the way to the top. The aroma is chocolate, vanilla, and a little coffee.

First sip is chocolate, earth, vanilla, and it's a hollow kind of dryness. It's not bad, but it's strange to be so dry and yet be rich at the same time. It's no sipping beer, though, as it has too much of the bitterness form the chocolate and too much... earthiness from the earth. The result is an unbalanced beer that is also a little unsettling.

Tip-in is bitter chocolate, earth, and a bit of coffee with almost no carbonation involvement whatsoever. The middle reaches out with a rich, smooth texture and it highlights the chocolate with the vanilla and something more sinister like the earth from a plowed-under cornfield lurking. The finish hits a bit with bitterness and trails off with a hint of smoke.

Bottom Line: It gets better as it warms, and it is much better when imbibed with verve.



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