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Nickel Brook Bolshevik Bastard Russian Imperial Stout | Better Bitters Brewing Co.

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Nickel Brook Bolshevik Bastard Russian Imperial StoutNickel Brook Bolshevik Bastard Russian Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Better Bitters Brewing Co.
Ontario, Canada | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
The newest Nickel Brook creation was brewed for those of you who aren't afraid of big and bold beer! Made with a blend of roasted barley, chocolate and amber malts, this Imperial Stout gives rise many deep flavours of rich, roasty chocolate and dark fruit. To counterbalance the sweetness, The Bolshevik Bastard is aggressively hopped at 70 IBUs to give rise to this remarkably smooth Imperial Stout that you won’t believe is 8.5% ABV!

Added by Sammy on 01-13-2012

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Reviews: 41 | Ratings: 131
Photo of portwood
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Smell: Molasses, dark chocolate, roasted malt, vanilla, winey note.
Taste: sweet, med carbonation, coffee, cocoa.
Finish: dark chocolate, moderate bitterness.
(bottled 12/18/15)

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.09/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a dark oily brown with a tan head. Aroma of chocolates, mocha coffee, roasted malts and alcohol esters. The taste is roast forward with light cocoa amd mocha notes, quite similar to the nose. Booze is well hidden on this one and it drinks smoothly. Full bodied, thick and velvety on the palate, this is a pretty good stout.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.29/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 ounce bottle, bottled on 18 JAN 2016. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with an inch and a half tan head. Head retention and lacing are both pretty good. Aroma is nice, the brew smells like bittersweet chocolate, coffee, burnt/charred malt, molasses, licorice, dark fruit and some herbal hoppiness. For the most part I think the taste is just like the aroma, but there's also some vanilla and pine hops noticeable too. This one gets better the warmer it is (and I let the bottle sit out of the fridge for around 20 minutes before opening it). Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's slick and creamy with a good amount of carbonation. I think it's a good imperial stout, next time I'll have to try this fresher since the label says Drink Fresh, Do Not Age. I've seen it around for a little while but didn't buy any until last weekend. Definitely worth picking up, this is the 2nd Nickel Brook brew I've tried and I haven't been disappointed yet! $2.59 for a single bottle.

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Photo of superspak
4.36/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 1/18/2016. Pours pitch black color with a 2-3 finger dense and rocky tan head with incredible retention, that reduces to a large cap that lasts. Dense soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a good amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Incredible appearance! Aromas of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, toasted dark bread, caramel, molasses, smoke, char, light licorice/dark fruit, herbal, wood, floral, pine, and roast/smokey earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/roast/bready malt and moderate earthy/piney hop notes; with great strength. Taste of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, toasted dark bread, caramel, molasses, smoke, char, light licorice/dark fruit, herbal, wood, floral, pine, and roast/smokey earthiness. Good amount of roast/char and herbal/pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, toasted dark bread, caramel, molasses, smoke, char, light licorice/dark fruit, herbal, wood, floral, pine, and roast/smokey earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt and moderate earthy/piney hop flavors; with a great bitter/sweet roast malt/hop balance and zero astringent flavors after the finish. Moderate dryness from roast/hop bitterness and carbonation. Medium-high carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy/silky, and sticky/chalky balanced mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming lingering after the finish. Overall this is an incredible Russian imperial stout! All around outstanding complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt and moderate earthy/piney hop flavors; and very smooth and easy to drink for the ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of DrDemento456
3.84/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Good carbonation a 1/4 inch that sits atop a very jet black thick looking stout body.
S - Mild cocoa powder, coffee beans, a very herbal hop body... oh no I don't like bitter RIS
T - Bitter hops mend pretty well with the body rounding to cold coffee taste and mild raw cocoa bitterness. Finish is sweet with a decent malt body.
M - Bitter at times cloying but finishes nice medium body and rather chewy.

Overall it's a decent RIS which reminds me a lot of storm king which is local and half the price. If I were to want to try this again I would just buy local.

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Photo of jasonpeckins32
4.53/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours jet black. Big and thick looking coming out of the bottle, nearly oily. Topped with a monster-size brown foamy head. The head itself looks like something that would appear atop a rootbeer float or chocolate milkshake. One whopper of a beer here.

The aroma is just as big. Malty, sweet, roasted, hints of dark chocolate, coffee, and booze lace this beautiful looking and smelling beer.

The flavor is very roasted and big, but some hop qualities do come out in the flavor towards the middle/end of the sip. It adds further depth to a beer that is already crazy deep with flavors, and I'd honestly like it a bit more if it wasn't so heavily hopped. Just my opinion. In fact, taking a large portion of that tart-hop-bite flavor out of this would probably elevate this to one of the top 10% beers I've ever had in the world.

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Photo of al_al1357
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful dark opaque looking beer with strong notes of roasted and chocolate malts on the nose. Taste represents that common in Russian imperial stouts with a creamy bitter and sweet finish with hops present. Overall, the beer is well-balanced, rich, and very drinkable despite the higher alcohol content.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Undated bottle at 42 degrees into hand washed and dried snifter
Got in a trade with @SebD
Aroma roasted malt, lasts
Head small (Lacing good – narrow rings of tiny bubbles
Body dark brown/black, opaque
Flavor very strong roasted malt with a hint of smoke and bitter chocolate, ends with some hop spiciness; no alcohol, no diacetyl
Palate full, creamy, lively carbonation

Appearance 4, Aroma 4, Flavor 4.25, Palate 4, Overall 4

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Photo of tomghiley
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

looks beautiful, somewhat creamier than a lot of imperial stouts, smells and tastes much like molasses, has a nice smooth feel in the mouth, easy drinking, bold imperial stout.

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Photo of Tilly
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 12 oz. Super dark brown, almost black! Creamy khaki head that doesn't have a lot of retention. Vanilla, coffee, chocolate aromas! Tastes don't fall far from the smell. I get some berry flavours. Black currents. Mouth feel is smooth as silk and then a fine bitterness.
Well done Burlington's Nickel Brook!

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Photo of FRANKIE65
4.43/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

LOVED this stout!!
A - pours a beautiful black with tan head, good lacing
S - chocolate, coffee
T - smell X 2
M - smooth as silk
O - a damn fine stout from Burlington, Ontario
At under $10 a four pack, great value too!!

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Photo of Cramshawbar
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A nice stout. Not very much of the bitter aftertaste that characterizes stouts and the strength is cleverly hidden. Decent beer, although it is perhaps worth noting that I am not a stout lover.

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Photo of biegaman
3.97/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bolshevik Bastard has the same opaque black body and dirt-stained head as its Russian Imperial Stout comrades. It looks rich and hearty enough to hold one over for an entire winter (might have the calories to boot). Not even my LED desk lamp can tease out a single highlight.

There's a good deal of gooey fudge and espresso aromas here but nothing so strong as to really jump out the glass. The fact it's not overly impactful, however, doesn't make it any less enticing - this smells delicious. Everything's great so far, though it's worth pointing out this doesn't seem like the kind of RIS to kick you in the teeth, even if does possess the flavours to do so...

Indeed, Bolshevik Bastard provides much the same vanilla, cigar, and dark chocolate profile as its bourbon barrel-aged edition, Kentucky Bastard, albeit without the additional booziness. Way more approachable. And while the flavours are not quite as profuse they are plenty appreciable; it's still awfully rich, potentially overwhelming so if one's not accustomed to the style.

That being said, for 9% and 70 IBU this is nowhere as intimidating as you'd expect. One reason is the lack of long lingering smokiness and acrid bitterness present in many examples; the taste may be strong espresso but the finish is mocha or tiramisu. You might even say by imperial stouts standards it is, for want of a better term, relatively "sessionable".

When I saw four-packs of this stuff on the shelf I didn't hesitate even for a second to grab a couple. When I found out at the cash how reasonably they were priced I went back and grabbed a couple more. Bolshevik Bastard isn't a world-class RIS in that it's not insanely, wickedly rich but it does deliver the classic characteristics in an incredibly drinkable package.

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Photo of Antilochus
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Can't read the bottle code.

A: Thin beige head. Fully opaque against a light.

S: Dark chocolate, burnt sugar, pine.

T/M: Bitter on the palate. Dark chocolate, dark fruits finish is balanced. Smooth m/f.

Pretty nice one from a brewer I am not generally impressed with.

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Photo of polloenfuego
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer looks good, black with a ring of root beer head that goes quickly but leaves you holding a glass of thick and rich beer. The smell is also spot on for an RIS, malts, roasts, cocoa all working together. The taste is nice and rich with the malts and roasts dominant and the cocoa coming in later. There is a real nice finish on this beer, one which I would have expected on one with more age on it.

All in all, a great effort by Nickel Brook after what I consider to be some disappointing previous offerings.

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Photo of kevinlater
4.46/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

355ml bottle into oversized wine glass. 2014 batch is 9% abv. 70 IBU. part of the printed code on the bottle is smeared off, but it looks like "11/03/14" which i'm guessing is a bottling date of november 3, 2014. served to myself on november 28, 2014

a: motor oil coming out of the bottle, and pitch black once all of it gets into the glass. around a finger of dark brown head. a very slight ruby tone at the bottom

s: herbal/piney, caramel, alcohol, roasted/burnt malt, raisins and dates, dark chocolate. mild coffee on the back end

t: a huge, deep roasted character right away. wow. heavily-roasted malt and bitter dark chocolate. a touch of alcohol, far from off-putting, shows up quickly, then fades out to give way to a mid-palate of citrusy-tangy, piney hop flavours, and woody bite. there is a bit of an ugly salty presence. the finish is hoppy and dry with strong lingering roasty, chocolatey notes

m: absolutely killer. you can feel that it's thick as hell right when it touches your upper lip. also comes with mild carbonation

o: a full-flavoured, full-bodied imperial stout. what an incredible brew

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Photo of DaveBar
4.51/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at the LCBO for $9.95 for a 4pk. Served at 6deg C in a tulip.

A- Opens well pours next to no head that is gone in no time. JET BLACK. Same as Fidy

S- WOW this is fantastic. Chocolate, coffee, toffee, everything.

T- Very good. All is there plus. Love it. Super coffee and caramel and chocolate. All

M- A bit chalky

O- Love it. Super good beer. Will go get more for the cellar

Food Pairing

This wonderful beer went well with..... Chocolate cake


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Photo of allergictomacros
4.67/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark, dark brown with a thin head of dark tan foam. Looks flat and a little bit syrupy.

S - Dark roasted malt, a bit of apple, molasses and coffee. Hints of cinnamon.

T - Yum. Big roasty, malty sweet flavour. Back end comes on strong with a big bitter finish and strong alcohol. Up front is that molasses and roast, a hint of fresh black coffee.

M - Not as heavy as expected, but very substantial. Almost chewy. A bit sharp on the carbonation.

O - Really nice, big tasty beer. Well balanced.

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Photo of Derek69
4.14/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into pint glass, very little head. Very black colour, mostly chocolate and coffee taste, slightly sweet aftertaste. Very big, bold flavour as a good stout should be. Lacing is also non-existant. Noticable alcohol content, which may turn some people off, listed at 9% so its somewhat to be expected. They added hops to balance out the flavour which i think worked well. Very thick, will coat the tongue. I prefer less sweet stouts, but thats a personal preference.

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Photo of EvanHarper
3.3/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

355 mL bottle from mixed pack, packaged 29 August 2013, reviewed 19 December 2013.

Dark midnight black with a thin cap of medium-brown head, good legs.

Very rich, sweet caramel and chocolate smells, dried fruits and perhaps fruity esters, ample floral hops with some piney and herbaceous notes.

Very heavy taste, overload of malty sweetness and extremely bitter piney hops, with strong notes of chocolate and a noticeable (though to-style) warming alcohol twang.

Thick tongue-coating mouthfeel, lowish carbonation.

A slow sipping beer for sure, very aggressive North American craft-style Imperial stout. Will probably stick with tamer stouts like Wellington's but would happily recommend this to drinkers looking for a way-out-there Imperial Stout experience.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.89/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

341ml bottle, day 14 of the 2013 Craft Beer Advent Calendar, the kind of thing that inspires stupidity in people, such as "d'y'all still have any of those Advent beer things left?", posed more than halfway through said period. God, I need a beer.

This beer pours a solid black, with labyrinth-like streaks of subtle cola highlights, and one fat finger of fizzy, tightly foamy, and sort of bubbly light brown head, which leaves some rather decent cobwebbed lace around the glass as things dissipate.

It smells of bittersweet milk chocolate, a sturdy caramel/toffee malt, a nice double-double coffee essence, sharp licorice root, dark sugar, a touch of grainy wood fiber, floral, leafy hops, and a certain alcohol testiness. The taste is more heavy mocha goodness - sweet cocoa blended deftly with bitter strong coffee - a granular toffee maltiness, dark dried fruit - figs and sultana raisins, mostly - a weak hint at oak, perky anise, and piney, floral hops, which attain a kind of perfumed character when sat together.

The carbonation is understated, but still right there when it's fundamentally required, the body medium-heavy in weight, and actually quite smooth, the hops and a touch of alcohol barely making a dent. It finishes on the sweet side, the chocolate, doctored coffee, caramel, and simmering booze making a strong case for their cause.

A pleasant enough rendition of a new-world RIS, the flavours big and brash, the mid-range ABV worthy of the visage of Big Joe Stalin glancing out from the label. One of the better offerings that I have yet tried from this brewery, as it hits the spot on this freezing rain kind of winter day we got going on here.

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Photo of DenisKolkin
3.87/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle 6 of 6 from LCBO taster's pack. Served well-chilled into a pint glass.

Appearance - Suitably black with a whipped cappuccino head that actually looks as though it belongs on top of a coffee until a recedes. Not great retention time, but soapy wisps of head linger for a while. Decent lacing streaks down the glass.

Smell - Has the coffee chocolate smell that most RIS have, but this one I also detected more hop earthiness and pine needles than I am used to on the nose. Aromas are nice but not terribly robust. Nice blending of hops and malts aromas though, quite inviting.

Taste - Big coffee flavor that lingers and is amplified by the bitterness but just seems to linger and then next thing you know it's the bitter espresso aftertaste. A bit of an awkward transition . Some smokiness also detected. Bite from some hops are also there, but rather subdued.

Mouthfeel - Tongue coating and a heavy feel, a bit syrupy but it doesn't stray into unpleasant territory. Great warming in the back of your throat. A bit of any oily texture as well.

Overall - A good RIS, but definitely not a leader in the feel. Given the slightly more hop focused aroma (and taste to a lesser extent) I feel like this could have perhaps been even better. Nonethless a good beer that I will enjoy and may purchase again if available.

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Photo of thehyperduck
4.24/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

355 mL bottle picked up at the LCBO, listed at 9%. Now available in the Fall 2013 OCB Discovery pack; the only offering in said sampler that I have yet to sample, and probably the most intriguing of them all. Served only slightly chilled.

This one pours viscous like engine oil - black as night and utterly opaque, topped with one finger of dense, resilient, tan-coloured head. It takes more than a few minutes to finally give up the ghost, leaving a thin cap and sticky collar behind, with some modest swaths of lacing. Looks fine, and I'm really loving the aroma - lots of intense roasted malt notes, ranging from espresso coffee, to molasses, brown sugar and dark chocolate. The alcohol comes through as well, with a hint of anise and charred wood. No complaints so far.

Very tasty stuff, and unbelievably smooth for the abv. There's a lot more cocoa and dark chocolate than the aroma let on, with the roasted coffee notes mostly riding in the back seat. Dates also come through, as well as molasses sweetness, with an almost charred, smoky feel toward the finish. The hops provide an herbal, somewhat spicy quality, followed by the roasty aftertaste, with the bittersweet flavour of baker's chocolate lingering. Lightly warming from the ethanol content. Full-bodied and ridiculously smooth-drinking, with a velvety mouthfeel and light carbonation.

Final Grade: 4.24, a solid A-. Another superb offering from the fine people at Nickel Brook - they are quickly cementing themselves as one of my favourite Ontario brewers. Bolshevik Bastard is (in my admittedly limited experience) my favourite OCB Imperial Stout, with a delicious, somewhat complex flavour profile, a luxurious mouthfeel and the perfect balance between all of its constituent elements. If this beer is not normally available locally and you see this sampler, it is absolutely worth getting the pack just to try this - the other 5 beers are respectable in their own right, but this one steals the show.

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Photo of Seantmiller
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Been meaning to review this one for a while, recently listed by at the LCBO, so this bad
boy will now be available regularly.

Poured this this oily black stout into a tulip. Gave it lots of head, pours a nice chocolately brown, beautifully thick.

On the nose it smells of typical roasted malt and coffee. Not overly boozy.

Really smooth going down, taste is incredible, chocolate, cacao, nutty? - almost a bit of cigar.

Mouths feel is smooth, not chalky, but definitely has some chew.

Finishes nice with a relatively strong booze aftertaste.

Overall, I think it's the best consistently available RIS in Ontario.

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Photo of Jeffo
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Got this bottle as a gift from Hopsolutely. Extremely generous of you! Thank you very much.

From a bottle into a snifter

APPEARANCE: Pours out black and yields a thin wisp cap that quickly recedes to a ring only. Pitch black body with no carbonation evident. Swirly wisp and ring remain with falling dots down the glass. Head needs more staying power, but this is a decent looking stout.

SMELL: Roasted malts, some chocolate notes, dark fruits, and leather on those, as well as some sweet cream and vanilla on the nose. Big enough for sure.

TASTE: Roasted malts and some sweet caramel up front into a roasted and slightly charred finish. Big and lingering finish of charred malts, bitter dark chocolate and some caramel sweetness. Light leather and sweet dark fruits as well. Pretty flavorful.

PALATE: Medium-full body and quite low levels of carbonation. Creamy and silky smooth on the palate, goes down smooth and finishes sticky on the palate. Pretty good feel with enough weight, but just a slightly too little carbonation.

OVERALL: Pretty good stuff. Lots of flavor and a good feel for sure. Perhaps a touch too much leather in the flavor profile and a hint more carbonation would help, but as it is, this is still really nice. Thanks again for the gifts Hopsolutely. Recommended.

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Nickel Brook Bolshevik Bastard Russian Imperial Stout from Better Bitters Brewing Co.
87 out of 100 based on 41 ratings.