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Lava | Ölvisholt Brugghús

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Brewed by:
Ölvisholt Brugghús
Iceland | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.40%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
The active volcano Hekla is visible from the brewhouse door and occasionally, eruptions are visible from the Ölvisholt farm. The illustration resembles the view from the brewhouse door when an eruption occurs. Full-bodied, pitch black beer with a dense brown head. Richly flavored with notes of dark chocolate, roasted malt and smoke.

Added by stulowitz on 12-01-2008

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Reviews: 184 | Ratings: 545
Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.01/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter glass glass.

Appearance: Thick black bodied brew with a dark tan head which is a little weak, with a vigorous pour it rises to about one full finger's length. Settles nicely, and quickly with no lacing.

Smell: Smells like a light charcoal BBQ with lighter hints of malt.

Taste: Unique smoke feel coupled with dark chocolate and wood notes.

Mouth: Medium carbonation at its best, stickiness is just average at best.

Overall: Nice brew might might off a little heavy and feels a bit like a meal. Would have again without hesitation and doesn't really need tweaking, personally I think it's best paired with a meal..:.Salud!

 651 characters

Photo of Bitterbill
4.5/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitch black with an inch of tannish foam.

Smells smokey as hell with side notes of bitter chocolate and coffee.

Smokey, lots of roasted malt, bitter (dark) chocolate, toffee, not much of a coffee flavour. Pretty boozy.

Full bodied imho but superbly smooth on my palate.

Like a bumped up Alaskan Smoked Porter. I suppose that explains my love for it.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.12/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Impeccable looking beer. Perfect dark khaki head and pitch-black body. 5

Smells of all types of smoke, campfire, smoked ham and bacon and woody mesquite. Awesome. 4.25

All the smokey loveliness I was getting from the nose hits on the taste. There's some dark chocolate that complements things and creamy caramel and vanilla. Earthy hops appear on the finish. 4

There's a bit of a soda-like carbonation to this that upsets the otherwise creamy, viscous and rich body. The feel is plenty smokey, earthy and bitter too. 4

Excellent. This is for the smoke lovers. If you like that in a beer, drink this.

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Photo of DoctorZombies
3.98/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Black pour with khaki/tan head; ok lace, not much cap or carbonation. Just a whisper of smoke in the nose (I was expecting more...). Subtle smoky and roasted malt flavors up front; bittersweet dark chocolate as the liquid warms; roasted malt finish. Dry, bittersweet medium lite mouthfeel and roasted malt (smoke?) tongue coating. Overall, the dry roast/smoky linger subsumed the underlying dark chocolate flavors.

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Photo of Roguer
4.11/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Beautiful black brew, topped by a sizable mocha head, with very good retention and nice lacing.

Very nice RIS aroma profile: roasted barley, a touch of grapes and dark fruit, a slight hint of sweetness, bittersweet chocolate and coffee, and just a bare hint of smoke.

Flavor follows, with quite a bit more sweetness on the palate, and a very nice complement of smoke on the back half. A little more chocolate, as well.

Medium fullness; very slick, lively, and smooth. Excellent drinkability.

This is a surprisingly nice beer all around. I love the balance of sweetness, roasted barley, and smoke, making for a really great blend of flavors.

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Photo of JuicesFlowing
3.88/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an Ommegang goblet.

Look: Espresso coffee blackness with brown barely emerging around the edges. The cream colored head disappears completely, leaving no lacing.

Aroma: That inky, oily black licorice aroma from most imperial stouts emerges immediately. Smokiness is subdued, although it brings out a cooked meat aroma that is not unpleasant by any means.

Taste: Charred grains, roasted malts, smoked meats, and some burnt coffee grounds all come out. The finish is slightly tangy, and as the beer warms more black licorice is present in the finish.

Mouthfeel: A little thin and boozy.

Overall: I suppose. I think the mouthfeel hurt the overall quality, but I did appreciate that the smoke was not palate wrecking.

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Photo of mynie
4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Micro Bar in Reykjavik.

Pours dark with a respectable head. Smells of coffee, dark barley, and dry hops. Tastes very similar--dry and roasty, nice firm body with medium complexity.

It more resembles a good American double stout than a Russian Imperial.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Darrell.

Near black, opaque body with a thin beige head. Smoke, cooked sausage, campfires. Rauchbier character. Nearly 10% abv masked well. Easy drinking. Smooth with low to medium carbonation. Solid beer. Hooray Iceand.

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Photo of pat61
4.58/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Bright, deep ebony to black under a 2” dense foam collar with a very fine bead.
S: Light smoke, phenols, fruit, toast, traces of coffee
T: Light malt sweetness, caramel, smokey coffee, roast, with a drying, mildly astringent finish.
F: Creamy, full bodied, very fine soft carbonation.
O: A big, bold Russian Imperial Stout with a burnt grain smokiness rather than a peated of smoked malt smoke. Well done and deliscious.

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Photo of leroybrown10
4.38/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours black and viscous. Dark khaki colored head of about 1.5 fingers. Head sticks around for a while and leaves a small amount of lacing behind. Lacing vanishes quickly. This is completely opaque and seems quite thick.

Aroma is smoke, roasted malt, peat and tobacco. Overripe plum and herbal notes are faint on the back end.

Rich smoke flavor on the first taste. Makes me think of a campfire. Roasted malt, burnt toffee, and fire roasted nuts. Some creamy coffee notes. Maybe a hint of vanilla. Herbal notes of the aroma come through much stronger on the tongue.

Thick creamy body. More carbonation than I would expect. Oily and viscous on the tongue. Flavors linger, mild bitterness in particular.

This was an excellent smoked stout. Smoke is strong but rich and balanced. Some smoked beers I've had were rather astringent but this goes more towards creamy.

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Photo of beeryes
4.84/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Absolutely one of the greatest beers I've had in 30+ years of beer drinking. The smoke flavor magically drifts in and out of the utterly beguiling overall flavor profile. The mouthfeel is superb; so is the finish. What's not to like? Sets the standard for a dark smoked beer.

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Photo of flagmantho
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I had this beer on-tap in a snifter at Brave Horse Tavern in Seattle.

Appearance: completely black color; dark, deep, cloudy, everything you want in the style. There's a slim ring of dark tan foam atop; quite attractive indeed.

Smell: sweet, fruity and smoky. There's a light alcohol fruitiness and some dark fruit from the malt; roasty with a little bit of chocolate, and a low but distinct smokiness in the aroma. Complex and intriguing; I love it.

Taste: very rich and very sweet. Roasty with a nice bitterness and a little bit of an astringency toward the end, but mostly it's a bit syrupy and sticky. Chocolate, dark fruit, raisin, date; the smokiness is more pronounced in the flavor than in the aroma. I quite like it.

Mouthfeel: big, rich body with a nice carbonation and a silky texture. This is a rich and creamy beer indeed.

Overall: smoked Russian imperial stout -- there's not much more to know about this beer. It's rich, black and tasty.

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Photo of The_Dude_710
3.88/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber. Very good smoked RIS. Not overly smokey, but just enough to add to the beer not subtract from it.The smoke and the body hide the 9.4% abv very nicely.

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Photo of evianIPA
2.49/5  rDev -39.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

330ml bottle from Vinhusid Reykjavik, December 2014. Best before 08.10.17

First impressions...BACON LIQUORICE!

A - Opaque black with tan crema
S - Sweet medicinal/liquorice aromas, touch of alcohol and bacon
T - Liquorice and bacon with an alcoholic finish
M - Surprisingly light, with soft lingering finish
O - I was wowed initially, as I both love smoked beers and stout, but I'm less wowed with each sip. A nice idea, but fairly one dimensional. Possibly better with age and could certainly do with more body, bitterness and malt.

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Photo of fourstringer
4.19/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 0.5L bottle into a Brewer's Art goblet. Moderate hand. Stamped a cryptic 20:59C3L038/12.

A: Very dark brown body on the pour and opaque black in the glass. 1/2 finger of mocha-colored head. Ok retention. Light lacing.

S: Roasted malts with notes of woody smoke, toasted almonds, dark chocolate, coffee. Trace raisin.

T: Tangy, smoky malts open and persist throughout. A touch of bacon at times. A cacao-type bitterness slowly builds to a fairly dry finish. Alcohol presence is well hidden for 9.4% ABV. Lingering tobacco, dark chocolate, roasted malt and smoke in the aftertaste.

M: Moderate carbonation with a medium body for style. Slightly prickly, but overall nice.

O: Nicely balanced imperial stout with a tasteful degree of smoke. Rich, but very drinkable. Color me impressed.


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Photo of Flounder57
4.12/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16.9 oz bottle was poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance: A two finger mocha head was poured that reduced to a thin layer. It is a pitch black color with no vision of anything. Spotty lacing down the glass as the beer was drank.

Smell: Smokey, caramel, molasses, roasty, chocolate, warm alcohol, and bready malts.

Taste: Nice smoked malts, molasses, caramel, leather, chocolate, roasty, a little soy, dark fruits, alcohol, and bready malts. More flavors opened up as the beer warmed up.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, full bodied, smokey, low to medium carbonation, a little chewy, and deceiving warm alcohol.

Overall: I think I enjoyed this one more on draft. Still a solid and smoked imperial stout. I'll definitely revisit this one again.

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Photo of TX-Badger
2.75/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Pours black like oil with khaki head. Smells of roasted malt, smoked malt, and some raw cocoa; follows onto the palate. Full bodied. Finishes with more smoke.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Poured into a snifter.

3.5 A: Black color. Just about one finger of frothy medium brown head. Retention is a touch below average and just a few wisps of lacing are left.

4.25 S: The smoke in this is just great. It offers both the porcine meatiness and the campfire thing. Quite earthy with a big mineral component. Tangy molasses and dark fruits. Underneath is the typical chocolate, coffee, and caramel. Just a touch of char as well.

4.0 T: Much like the nose. Smoke again leads the way as described above. Strong mineral earthiness. Chocolate and caramel come to the forefront to join the molasses. On the drier side for a beer this big. Coffee and a light char aftertaste to round it out.

3.75 M: Not quite as viscous as I would have guessed. Heavier medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Lightly creamy and super smooth. The booze is barely detectable.

4.0 D: Good beer all around. Pick it up if you stumble upon it like I did.

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Photo of Alex-Alkis
4.61/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A huge aroma, with lots of smoke and ash. Smells like a real volcano, but with dark chocolate and black malt. The flavor is very strong. Lots of dark chocolate, smoke and licorice. Finally, a hearty, yet not intrusive alcohol warmth. I am very impressed by this beer.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
4.31/5  rDev +5.4%

$ 11.29/16.9 oz bottle at Vintage Estates, Boardman, OH
Bottle at 45 degrees into imperial pint glass
Aroma of roasted malt, smoke, and bitter chocolate
Head small (1 cm), light brown, fizzy, rapidly diminishing to 2 mm ring
Lacing none
Body dark brown/black, opaque
Flavor of roasted malt and bitter chocolate with a light smoke overlay; no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl
Palate medium to full, creamy, lively carbonation

Appearance 4, Aroma 4.25, Flavor 4.5, Palate 4, Overall 4.1875. Final weighted score: 4.3125
A very pleasant smoked imperial stout. The smoke is not overpowering but complements the roasted malt/bitter chocolate notes. The lack of lacing and rapid depletion of the head detract from the appearance.

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Photo of bwood06
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%

A - Black. 1 finger head that dissipates to a very thin lacing. Head is dark tan. Reddish tint to beer around edges. Beer is opaque. Moderate carbonation visible. 4/5

S - Moderate smokiness with bit of chocolate and espresso. A bit of sweet malt as well as vanilla bean as well. 4.25/5

T - Flavor follows exactly what the nose suggests except that the smoke is more subdued here. Smoke balances with chocolate and espresso with a slight alcohol on the back end. Grassy and earthy bitterness as well as a nice touch of vanilla bean. 4.25/5

M - Very thick and viscous. Chewy. Smooth and creamy. Somewhat of a dry finish. Moderate carbonation. 4.25/5

O - Well balanced stout that has a nice complexity. Smooth and creamy but dry at the same time resulting in a nice dichotomy. 4/5

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Photo of wethorseblanket
4.09/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

500 ml bottle. From the land of ice.

A: Pours black with a one-inch thick mocha head which fades to a thin cap and rim leaving splotchy lace.

N: Smoke up front, roast, malts, dark chocolate, charred wood, slight peat, damp earth.

T: Smokey and roasty malts, dark chocolate. Well balanced.

M: Full body and medium carbonation. Finishes creamy, dry, smokey.

O: Impressed with this one. Well balanced and clean. Try it.

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Photo of Phocion
4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

500ml bottle poured into a Stone IRS tulip. Jet black with only the silghtest traces of red along the edge when held up to the light. Solid finger of frothy brown head with moderate retention, that drops down to a chocolate milk like crown. Thick layers of creamy lacing.

The aroma is definitely dominated by smoke. Smoked malts that are almost Scotch-like and kippery. Dark roasted and bitter chocolate along with a woodiness are evident.

The nose is extremely smoky, but the flavor is only moderately. Bitter unsweetened chocolate and dark roasted coffee take over. Heavily roasted and smoked malts. Very little alcohol presence and minimal dark fruity esters. Bitter finish with a touch of smoke.

Low-moderate carbonation and a heavy body. Thick, chewy, but a little more slick than velvety like is typical in the style.

Overall, this is a little rough and likely could improve significantly with age. The finish is a bit too bitter and the mouthfeel isn't as creamy as it should be, but the level of smokiness is executed perfectly. Very savory; if you're unclear on what "umami" is, drink this beer and you'll understand.

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Photo of TheBullsHorn
3.93/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is a beer that plays on the enjoyability that touch of smoke can add. Prominent flavors of chicory, coffee bean, cocoa nibs, and a slight ashiness are complimented by flavors of overripe fruit. The smoke is present but not overpowering and doesn't seem to linger but fades into a soy sauce/ umami flavor. For a smoked beer, this is quite balanced (like the way the overall sweetness is offset by the ashy bitterness),providing a nice depth among dominant flavors.

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Photo of clayrock81
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a black body with one finger khaki colored head with minor lace and a mostly smoked malt aroma with some roasted, dark chocolate notes as well. Love the dark chocolate sweeetness in the beer as it keeps the mostly smoked (not meaty) , roasted malts that comprise the body of the beer. Beer is not only well balanced but has smoothness to it that is almost slick and there is even a hint of some dark fruit like figs or raisins in there. All around simple but well executed beer.

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Lava from Ölvisholt Brugghús
91 out of 100 based on 184 ratings.