Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Dwelling in the Dark: Loving that Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus

As I sit here at The Only Cafe, awaiting the completion of a slow installation of MS Office on my Ubuntu system (don't ask - work need), I feel somewhat separated from the necessary work I need to do - even though this installation is step one of the process.

Yet, I am (not) entirely in the dark, as I enjoy not only another glass of Railway City's excellent Black Coal Stout, but as I finally get my hands on Sawdust City's Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus Imperial Stout.

I am both excited and upset by the fact that the offering is on cask/real ale.  Why?  Well, critics be damned, I don't always love casks (dry-hopped, as they often are, to the point of excess, while the flatness doesn't suit most excessively hopped styles in my opinion), but the creaminess for the stout style (rather than the oft-casked IPA) should be suiting.

That said, this is a very, very good, very, very bitter beer.  I have had beers in the 100+ IBU range that taste less bitter insofar as they are more balanced, but this offering (at 85 IBU, 8.5% ABV, and "2.57 billion SRM") hits you hard with a very fine, very pleasureable bitterness that draws you back in for more!

It pours a slick, thick, oily black with an excellent creamy, thick, brown/tan head which has the best retention and lacing I have ever seen.  Piney hops aromas mixed with notes of coffee, and slight traces of chocolate and vanilla meet the nose, while it offers a semi-(bitter)sweet chocolatey taste up front followed quickly by a remarkably dry lingering hop bitterness, again in a piney sense.  It is creamy due to the lack of carbonation offered by the cask.  The flavour makes me wonder if it is dry-hopped, though I can't find any evidence of this on the web.  Not malty enough for me, and remarkably bitter/dry, yet at the same time probably the most enjoyable and creamy of bitter beers I have ever had.  On the tongue it is smooth and creamy.  Though I have only had about a half-dozen, this is the best cask offering I have ever had since the negligible carbonation benefits the style so well in my opinion, though I'd like a slightly thicker body and a bit more maltiness ideally, but still a very good beer I'd love to try on Nitro tap.  Grade: A-

Yes, I am biased insofar as I love imperial stouts, but I also tend to dislike excessive hop bitterness, so that I still enjoy this unbalanced beer is high praise, yet, like I said, I'd love to see the different sort of creaminess a nitrogen tap offers and hope this great beer appears on one at The Only's Winter Beer Fest!

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