Spencer Oak Barrel Aged Trappist Imperial Stout 330ml

John ShearlockMar 29, '22
You’ve got to love the rich tapestry that is beer history and there’s no better beer to describe this than the Imperial Stout. It’s a style that came about through an Anglo-Russian understanding when the stout and porter producers of London began servicing the needs of the Russian Imperial Court of Czarina Catherine the Great in the late 1800s.
As popular as it was, many of the British brewers abandoned the Russian market in the run up to the first world war and the popularity of the style dwindled through the 1900s, despite a few Baltic producers (and a few in the UK) keeping it alive.
But interest in the style resurfaced in the US, of all places, when a merchant commissioned the Samuel Smith’s brewery to make an imperial stout for export into the US in the early 80s. Craft brewers were quick to pick up the baton, pushing the style further with barrel ageing and it has gone on to become one of the most popular styles in the US, where they now make more than any other country.
It’s certainly interesting to study the ebb, flow and evolution of styles, and it brings us to today’s beer; an Anglo-Russian inspired dark beer made by trappist monks in the US. It makes the mind boggle. Let’s see what this beauty has to offer…
Dark and devious looking in the glass. It's like nosing an oaky chardonnay or an old whisky that has sat in a cask for a good few years. Waves of vanilla, malt and dark, burnt, bitter black chocolate, coffee too. The palate is sweet and unforgiving with surging malt, vanilla, coconuts… oak, oak and more oak, but then the finish is bitter and refreshing. I think these monks may have unwittingly summoned a devil of a beer! It's sinfully good.
The oak is big on this one for sure, but it’s got the structure to hold it up, and, well, if you like a beer that a spoon can stand up in, then this is just the ticket. Buy a few perhaps, drink some now and leave the others to improve over the next decade. By then, the style will probably have evolved further…