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Lava - Ölvisholt Brugghús

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

181 Reviews
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(Send Samples)
Reviews: 181
Hads: 530
Avg: 4.09
pDev: 17.36%
Wants: 57
Gots: 58 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Ölvisholt Brugghús visit their website

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  9.40% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: stulowitz on 12-01-2008

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.
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Reviews: 181 | Hads: 530
Photo of Teleweizen2
4.42/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - pours a viscous opaque black with a frothy light tan head. decent retention. leaves spotty lacing.

S - It's like putting your nose in a volcano, or a bbq pit. notes of Bacon, campfire, and dry rub spices dominate the aroma. there is touch of roast and chocolate underneath the raging smoke notes.

T - essentially a more nuanced version of the nose. Roasty coffee notes up front, followed by hints of bakers chocolate. smoke and spice notes enter mid palate. smooth dry finish.

M - creamy texture. medium bodied verging on full with medium carbonation.

O - Excellent. a fantastic blend of roast and smoke.

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Photo of joemcgrath27
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

big ups to BA andrenaline for including this in a trade
A - jet black with a thumb of mocha head that retained at a thin covering, thin line of consistent lacing
S - peaty and smoky dominant, roasty and chocolate aromas in the background
T - WOW, a total smoke show, peat and charcoal with big roasty and mocha maltiness, a touch of sweetness on the tail end
M - relatively light for a stout, smooth with some prominent ABV warmth with a little bite, finishes with a dry charred feel
O - it delivers on all three descriptors: Smoked, Imperial, and Stout. Glad I had a chance to try this one, a treat for sure

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Photo of jlindros
3.95/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On a day that is like summer out, why not crack a 9.4% abv beer. My first Icelandic beer (I think) so this should be interesting.

Pours a light fizzy darker colored head that fades instantly, practically no head which is typical for the style and abv, so nothing weird going on here, with a pitch black beer, no light escaping its folds of darkness, and some decent looking legs on the sides.

Nose has plenty of dark roasty stout aromas, dark roasted malts with a little bit of over roasted almost burnt but not quite. A nice smoke cuts through, bringing some campfire and light smoked cheese. Then a little bit of baker's chocolate but not much. The smoke is predominant, but gives way to a bit of vanilla and caramel, and a bit of booze rides the wave in.

Taste starts with the smoke again, not overpowering but definitely there, bringing a light campfire and a light smoked cheese rind, a bitterness of the rind and smoke brings a slight briny flavor. The smoke brings light phenolic flavors but not a lot. Then follows layers of stout flavors, some roast but not nearly as much as I expected. A little bit of cocoa and very dark bitter chocolate. Then some some light booze with a slight fusel flavor but not much. The malts also bring very light biscuit and vanilla. Bitterness is there throughout, some earthy hops there but plenty from the bitter roasty malts and some of the booze even. Finish is semi bitter, a bit more dark chocolate and cocoa coming through on the finish, with some light earthy hops, and a hint of roast, a bit of smoke is there but mostly faded at this point. The chocolate really comes through on the finish nicely.

Mouth is med to a bit fuller bodied but feels somewhat thin, decent carb, and decent amount of booze.

Overall pretty good, nice malts, roasted malts aren't too big, some decent smoke flavors that get a bit harsh but never overpowering, and the nice chocolate finish adds a nice touch.

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Photo of crossovert
3.92/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Just saw that this is distributed to the US. I had another beer form this brewery when I was in Winnipeg. This one sounds eve better, love smoked impy stouts. 500ml bottle.

It pours a dark black with reddish brown on the edges and a foamy dark tan head that recedes rather quickly leaves a few splotches of lacing.

The scent of this one is great. It is smokey with a certain sweet spiciness to it ala cinnamon, but not a cinnamon scent. It just shoots out of the bottle as soon as you pop the top and pour it.

The flavor is good but not amazing. It seemed smokier in the scent. This one is sweet and malty in the flavor. A typical nordic imperial stout. Nice sweetness, an exotic bit of spice, and rich chocolatey malt notes. The smokiness is here but blends with the sweetness to a high degree and is quite mellow.

Overall it is a solid brew and very smooth and balanced. If you aren't used to big smoky beers this is a good start.

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Photo of hotsudge
2.76/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours with a thick and dark head, probably the darkest head I've seen.

Smells better than it tastes. There is so much smoke flavour that it overwhelmes all other flavours. I didn't enjoy it, my husband thought it was good. My favourite smoked oatmeal stout is Samual Smiths and this one doesn't come close to the smooth rich flavour I was expecting.

It was almost undrinkable because there is so much smoke flavour. Not burnt, just smoke.

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Photo of WanderingFool
3.92/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Lava pours black with a tiny, thin head on top. The foam dissolves down to a ring around the surface leaving behind a few spots of lace.

The aroma is malty with notes of chocolate, roasted malt, coffee and smoke. A touch of pine is also present.

Each sip of this medium to full bodied beer is smooth, creamy with a moderate carbonated fizz. Seems a tiny bit thin for nearly 10% abv. The flavor is sweet with rich notes of chocolate, roasted malt, coffee and smoke. Nuttiness and grassy notes finish off each sip. Once gone the grass and chocolate lingers on the palate.

Quite an enjoyable beer that has a well balanced flavor. Sweet with enough bitterness to make it nice.

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Photo of Intrinsic
4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Lava is a very impressive looking beer. It pours a very creamy, medium brown head that sits atop an opaque dark brown body. The retention is good and so is the lacing.

The smell is intense. Loads of coffee, smoke, molasses, and dark bready malt screams out at you. Consequently, you're well-prepared for the taste that follows suit, with a little alcohol kick that's masked quite well for 10%. Good carbonation, slightly dry. Overall, a very good beer. Too bad Icelandic beers are not easy to find in Canada.

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Photo of papat444
3.7/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Never had a beer from Iceland. Thanks kjyost!

Poured from a 500ml. bottle, best before 240912.

Appearance: A dark brown body, almost black. Half the glass fills with brown foam but retention is average as it doesn't stick around too long. Clumps of lacing on the sides.

Smell: Strong smoke mixed with hickory and some coffee beans.

Taste: The smoke is felt more in the finish ans aftertaste. Flavor of meat smoked on a fire. Roasted notes mesh with some sweet BBQ sauce and a bit of charred wood.

Mouthfeel: Very creamy feel with low carbonation and easy to drink.

Overall: Found the flavor to be more in the finish. Starts very slow but good at the end. Decent overall the it is not have a great depth.

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Photo of thehyperduck
4.3/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

500 mL bottle from the LCBO; best before September 2014. This is the first time I have had a beer from Iceland, not to mention my first true RIS review.

Pours black as night; I can't even make out any twinges of colour under the light. Topped with a luxurious, creamy brown head a little more than a finger thick. Fairly good retention. Rich aroma with roasted wheaty malts, molasses, dark chocolate, figs and some light smoky character. Herbal and a little boozy.

Malt-forward taste with a smooth underlying smoked flavour. Lots of roasted malts on the palate, wheaty with mocha and bittersweet baker's chocolate flavours being prominent. Some herbal anise notes followed by a dry, roasted finish with some warmth from the alcohol. Full-bodied with an amazingly silky-smooth mouthfeel. Leaves a slick feeling behind on the palate. Very soft carbonation.

This is a fabulous stout, and at 9.4% a little too easy to drink. Satisfying and an ideal winter sipper without a doubt; more than complex enough to satisfy most beer geeks, with the perfect amount of smokiness. Much more drinkable than most heavy stouts.

Final Grade: 4.3, this is A-grade material. One of the best stouts I've had in a long time, giving Peche Mortel a good run for its money. Lava is a pricy brew, but worth every penny in my opinion. The LCBO needs to make this an annual import.

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Photo of andrenaline
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes... A surprising find at the local LCBO as part of their winter seasonal release.

A - Pours pitch black, two fingers of dark mocha head with solid retention and sheeting lacing. Very appetizing.

S - Smoked wooden peat, with hickory and spicy mesquite smoke coming through, dark chocolate, espresso, malted milk and a hint of vanilla.

T - Loaded with smoke, reminiscent of a rauchbier, strong mocha chocolate flavours, loads of peat, quite rich and has a sweeter characteristic that lingers. ABV is almost undetectable.

M - Thicker bodied, chewy, syropy, smooth and a touch of dryness.

O - A tasty and bold offering from a country that I had no idea exported their beers. Definitely a worthy offering and a very unique experience with loads of memorable flavours.

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

BB Sept 26, 2014

To the surprise of nobody, the beer is totally black. A vigorous pour results in a moderately sized tan head. Head bubbles rapidly and settles to a thin layer quite quickly. Decent lacing.

Smell contains roasted malt, coffee, smoke. Not a particularly strong smell.

The smoke is noticeable immediately in the taste, but it is not overpowering. Meshes with the roasted malt, coffee, and some bitter hops. Finishes with more smoke. The smoked aspect of the beer is quite well integrated. A bit of a sweet molasses taste.

Full bodied, but a little lighter than most RISs. Relatively low carbonation level. Oily.

Overall, a nice beer. Smoke is noticeable but not overdone, which is good.

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Photo of Kartoffeln
4.23/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a dark, opaque mahogany-black with a modest but dense head of dark tan fizz. Decent retention, dissipating to a bubbly ring and leaving scant spots of lacing.

S: Chocolate and black malts and roasted barley mingle with a potent birch smoke note and undertones of black coffee and cinder toffee. Just a hint of charcuterie and ethanol.

T: Rich chocolate and black malts with notes of caffe mocha, molasses, and baker's chocolate. Mild smokiness throughout, and a plummy dark fruit note partway through. Faint, woody hops and a bit of a lactic tang in the finish with some slight, warming booziness.

M: Full-bodied with very mild carbonation and a thick, silky-smooth texture. The hops are mild but make for a surpisingly dry finish and excellent balance overall.

D: Overall an excellent RIS with an especially aromatic smokiness that blends seamlessly into the complex palate. A well-rounded and distinctive example of the style well worth trying.

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Photo of TerryW
3.76/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Looks great when poured. Dark and tarry looking from the bottle. Walnut coloured. Pours a great big, handsome brown head that settles to a heavy film and gives some lace. Impressive look.

Aroma is understated. A hint of smoke alongside malt and roastiness. Looks far outstrip the smell.

Toast, roasted barley and coffee dominate. No chalkiness. Distinguished by just a touch of smoke. I've had too many beers where the smoke is overpowering and hits you like a club. In this brew. it's nicely integrated and adds to the drinking experience.

Mouth feel is slightly unctuous. Slick, but not syrupy. Finishes bitter.

Stern, but not overpowering. Decent, but not for the inexperienced.

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Photo of Rijtjeshuis
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

L ~ this one pours jet black in color and is totally opaque. The head was pretty nice: dark khaki with a touch of mustard in color; it rose up to about three fingers in a snifter off a hard pour; fell at an acceptable rate, but without any major lacing.

S ~ definitely get the smoke on the nose, which adds to what would otherwise be a fairly unexceptional Imperial Stout. In terms of malt, I get the usual characters: roasted barley and black patent coming out at the front line. The roasty/toasty malt notes play very well off of the smokiness that's present. No real fruitness, no real sweeter specialty malts, and a slight hint of earthier hops.

T ~ similar to the aroma. It definitely has the richness and complexity you would otherwise expect an Imperial Stout. Same malt character: black patent and roasted barley coming up front; the finish has a bit of sweeter burnt molasses into the finish. The smoke, which is the major flavor counterpoint to the malt, comes in a bit earlier and this leaves the end not quite as dry as it could have been. No real hop flavor, minimal bitterness (definitely not a US version on the style).

F ~ full body, light carbonation. There was little syrupy feel to the finish; I really get more of a velvet feel to this one. Some mild alcoholic warmth, but this doesn't play all that well with the burnt molasses-like finish.

I've had a good number of Russian Imperial Stouts and I really enjoyed this one. The introduction of smoke to the mix was well balanced and added an interesting component that I hadn't seen before. nicely done!

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Photo of Stocean1
4.22/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a half finger beige head on a deep brown body quickly dropping to a thin film. A little patchy lacing yet still a pleasant looking brew.

Smell is burnt malt, vanilla, dark fruit, and some ethanol

Taste follows the nose with a nice woody smokiness. Some chocolate and coffee notes. Not nearly as sweet as I expected.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with a little carbonation to balance it out, nice amount of bitterness yet it is still smooth and almost creamy - definitely felt a nice warming as I progressed through the put.

Very nice RIS I will sample again while stocks last.

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Photo of sfprint
4.49/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

exp 010614

A: Impenetrible darkness, with a short creamy red head. MKicro rising carbonation barely visible on the edges.
S: Incredibly thick and heavy roasted malt, heavy coffee and smoke.
T: Very smokey, had an interesting almost spicyness which isn't too chemically and masks the alcohol well. An interesting smokey not so hot pepper. Very unique flavor and very nice. Not my favorite style but this one is great.
M: The carbonation is so perfectly tied to the spicyness making the mouthfeel very special. But simultaneously very creamy. Amazing mouthfeel.
O: Perhaps the best and most interesting imperial stout I've had.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle, courtesy of tbeckett - Skál! Nice label imagery of what I imagine most people think of when pressed to describe Icelandic topography (but perhaps not iconography).

This beer pours a solid black, with very slight mahogany edges when offered to the light, and two swathed fingers of thin foamy mocha head, which displays fairly stolid retention, eventually leaving a low ebbing glacier profile of lace around the glass. It smells of roasted malt, with a subtle smokiness, that seems innocuous when mixed with some tart fruitiness, milk chocolate, and earthy dark, sugary molasses. The taste is big bittersweet chocolate, some sharp toasty graininess, more sour dark fruit, this time ankle-deep in a kiddie pool of warming alcohol, and dry black licorice adding further to the mire. The carbonation is quite sedate, the body an agreeable medium weight, and smooth, and bordering on creamy. It finishes sweet, the graininess and chocolate interwoven, with a bit of understated, latent smoke to bring us full circle from the Arctic Circle...

After having viewed a few documentaries about the pungency of smoked fish/alcohol/atmosphere from Iceland, I was a wee bit trepidatious about this brew. Turns out, I had nothing to fear - just a lovely multi-layered, heavy without the weight (?), big-ass RIS. From a place that should know about this kind of elixir, I'm so glad they get it right.

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Photo of DrJay
3.95/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of northyorksammy. Thanks!
Black beer with the faintest of ruby edges. A thin skim of fine, dark brown bubbles formed on the surface of the beer during the pour. A bit of transient lacing formed, but didn't last beyond a couple of sips. Smoky aroma, roasty and sweet with a bit of licorice. Sweet up front, dark chocolate and brown sugar, smoky and roasted malts, dry roasted nuts, light alcohol in the finish. Decent texture, medium plus body with lowish carbonation, light astringency with some alcohol warmth. Enjoyable overall. It had an interesting character and wasn't over the top in any one area, which kept it fairly drinkable for a big stout.

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Photo of Beer4Baltimore
4.42/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

- from the notes and a small bottle
A - straight up coal black and opaque with a short head.
S - roasted malts and a distinctive smokiness that many smoked beers just don;t manage to obtain.
T - dark roasted malts/coffee flavors with an undeniable smoke flavor.
M - fairly thick and low carbonation.
D - excellent as the alcohol is near undetectable....until later.

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Photo of mintjellie
4.32/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black. Black like basalt. Like obsidian. Appropriate for a beer name after pyroclastic flow. It's tan head is thick and dense, but short lived, leaving little lace behind. Aromas of smoke, espresso, and burnt sugar. Powerful roasted malt flavour. Tastes like black coffee, madeira, molasses, and campfire. Full bodied with low carbonation. Lush, smooth mouthfeel. Excellent.

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Photo of BBP
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A- Pours dark with a medium mocha head which slows down and becomes a thick film for the rest of the drink. Very good lacing.

S- There's a pretty basic imperial stout aroma here buried underneath all the smokiness. In that way it's quite familiar but still new at the same time due to the tremendous smokiness. The sad thing was how weak the aroma was, or how little could be picked up from under the smoke.

T- This is probably the first smoked porter/stout that has featured such a prominent smokiness. I haven't encountered many smoked beers with this much smokiness to them. That being said, it took me a while to figure out whether I thought the smokiness improved the drink or took away from it. The rest of the drink features tons of roasted malt, as well as coffee and chocolate. The first thing that comes up is a combination of the three with significant bitterness from the roasted malt and perhaps it's share of hops. These flavors stay but the smoke overpowers them a bit. At the same time, it really keeps it interesting.

M- Somewhat thin for an imperial stout, but a bit creamier than most. It leaves a slightly dry, sticky finish. Carbonation is done nicely.

D- I have to agree with all the others and say that the drinkability was aced. The 9.4% is surprising as there's little alcohol heat to it.

A great effort and a great example of a smoked stout.

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Photo of mrmanning
3.82/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from LCBO store 575. A very dark motor oil liquid decants in my goblet, and is topped with a respectable two finger mocha froth, leaving some pretty webbing on the glass. Roasted coffee bean nose hints at smoke, vanilla, leather, and licorice. Sweet and malty, with smoke and a marked hop bitterness to perfectly balance. Alcohol not really detectable in the full body and velvety finish. Great effort!

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Photo of ludachris
4.4/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The only thing I see when I hold this beer up to the light is my reflection; this beer is pitch black. Two fingers of rich frothy mocha head sit on top of this sucker, leaving thick fluffy patches of lace as it slowly dwindles. A fine looking RIS.

Served at cellar temp, it doesn't need any warming for notes of smokey ham, roasted malts, black licorice, warm and mushy brown sugar, and bakers chocolate to pour out of the glass. I really like the smokey side of this beer, giving it a unique edge and blending well with the rest of the staple stout characteristics.

The smoked malts are beautifully rendered, not being too robust and pairing extremely well with the roasted side of this beer. Cocoa powder comes midway through with a touch of silky dark chocolate. I don't pick up on the brown sugar at all. Licorice notes flow across the back of the palate and hook into the finish, sitting side by side with an assertive dry roasted character.

Full bodied and creamy in the mouth with almost a foam-like feel at times. The question of where is the alcohol keeps coming up. The 9.4% ABV is virtually indetectable with only a slight warm feeling in the chest that gives you a clue of the alcohol content.

Overall, a fantastic RIS with a unique, flavourful, and very well rendered smokey character. It's heavy but it's also one of the easiest drinking RIS's I've had in a long time. This has been sitting in my cellar for a couple of months now and it's long gone from the LCBO's line-up. If they choose to bring it back next winter, I'll be sure to grab a few bottles.

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Photo of marty21
4.13/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours pitch black with one finger worth of dark brown head. Settles to a large ring and leaves a couple specs of lacing.

S: Dark chocolate with some roasted malts and smokiness.

T: Dark chocolate, roasted malt and some coffee. There's some smokiness that lingers in the after taste. Alcohol is completely hidden.

M: Light carbonation with a full body.

D: My palate must have changed because I remember the first time I tried this beer awhile ago I didn't like it at all. But this time around I really enjoyed it. It's a really good Imperial Stout and the smoked part makes it different from others. It's one of the easiest drinking Imperial Stouts i've ever had which explains the very high mark for that category.

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Photo of Derek
4.47/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Black with a tan head, very thin ring of retention, leaves a bit of lace.

S: Light smoke (in a smoked ham sort of way), coffee and roasted nut, hints of demerara and licorice.

T: Very nice smokiness, not overdone, really compliments the roast. Roasted nut, coffee, molasses, licorice, generous use of fuggle hops, with a light peppery spicing as well. Alcohol is incredibly well hidden. A brew this big, with this much flavour and balance truly is exceptional!

M: Well-attenuated, full body has only a hints of acidity and alcohol warmth in the finish. Extremely well-crafted.

D: Incredibly well balanced and flavourful, though the strength and smoke may limit the drinkability a bit. I love it.

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Lava from Ölvisholt Brugghús
91 out of 100 based on 181 ratings.