Lava - Ölvisholt Brugghús

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LavaLava

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BA SCORE
91
outstanding

180 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 180
Hads: 521
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 8.8%
Wants: 54
Gots: 55 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Ölvisholt Brugghús visit their website
Iceland

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: 180 | Hads: 521
Photo of Sammy
3.87/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours opaque black with reddish brown 1.5 inches of soapy head that sticks to the side of the glass. Big roasty aroma with some smoke. Middling mouthfeel. The taste is definite smoked malt,with chocolate, the carbonation is right there. Alcohol somewhat hidden, it does feel a little boozy in aftertaste. (304 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.34/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Beachwood BBQ in Long Beach, CA.

Pours an opaque dark brown with a dark khaki head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of smoked malt, campfire, and smoked meats and cheeses. Taste is much the same with a medium roasty bitterness after each sip. This is a very good smoked beer with some awesome aromas and flavors. (412 characters)

Photo of metter98
3.95/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is essentially jet black in color—traces of amber are visible near the edge of the glass. It poured with a thin light tan head that quickly died down and left some lacing on the surface and a thick ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are light to moderately strong aromas of roasted malts in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the taste has flavors of roasted malts along with notes of smoke.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is lighter in body compared to other Russian Imperial Stouts and resembles that which you would expect from a porter. The alcohol is well hidden from the taste. (675 characters)

Photo of brentk56
4.29/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown capped by a tan head that delivers some decent lacing

Smell: Smells like a campfire with dark bread and roasty malt elements

Taste: Opens with the black bread and caramel flavors that are buttressed, in the middle, by the campfire smoke flavors; big malt and smoked elements in the finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation

Overall: I wouldn't have pegged this as a RIS but really enjoyed the beer and its smoke elements (474 characters)

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

my first icelandic beer, cool! good stuff too. it pours a cloudy chocolate brown color with a fair bit of carbonation creating a two inch off white head. its got a nice smokey malt smell, with some cocoa and clever yeast behind it. almost smells like a s'more. the taste isnt as sweet at the nose. the smoke flavor is pretty pronounced, and the chocolate from the nose comes through in the taste as well. the alcohol taste is pretty strong here, but it cuts through the thick smokey malt flavor nicely to leave a reasonably clean finish for a beer of this style. the feel is a little over carbonated at first, but it settles down as it warms. the body is huge, made bigger by the yeast sediment, but i had no problem with a bomber of this. id be curious to try more beers from iceland, hopefully they wont be as expensive as this one was. thats the only reason i wouldnt buy this again. (886 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
4.04/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Hello Iceland! Welcome to the craft beer scene. And you do so with aggression, boldness, and masculine qualities. ...I like it!

Their Lava Imperial Stout pours with a rich and lumbering patience. Dark (lack of) color is the deepest of brown that black hues pronounce. Largely oqaque, the dark beer impedes any light. Its patient and light carbonaiton slowly releases a skirt of foam that looks like coffee creme after the beer settles. Light lacing leaves random pockets of foam on the glass in its wake.

Strong smoke rises to the nose and strikes the olfactory senses with as much of a sense of barbecue as it does stout. But at its core, the scent of strong roast coffee, bitter chocolate, and walnut woodiness provide the supporting aromas that prop up the smoky cloud.

But flavors take a different turn- the taste of French-pressed coffee, chocolate and walnut command the taste, while reigning in the smoke flavors to the point where only moderate nuances reside. Sure the smoke makes its mark with an overall meaty taste, but its succulence brings rise to the choco-coffee blend that so irresistible. Bittered with as much roasted grain as hops, the finish culminates with a toasty-dry taste and semi-ashy dryness.

Full bodied early, the beer quickly digresses to moderately weighted texture that resembles apprehensive lightness in middle palate nearly causes the beer to seem light or thin. But just enough soft malt structure carries the beer to its powdery finish of pleasant warmth, semi-dryness, and smooth bite.

Lava is an exceptional beer, but you have got to like those campfire flavors and aromas from start to finish. Its level of smoke rivals traditional German rauchbiers, but fold in the complexities of imperial stout at every turn. It's not fore everyone. But for those savory freaks like me, this beer is built for me! (1,846 characters)

Photo of Knapp85
4.38/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was a beer I had been looking to get my hands on for a while. Managed to get a bottle at Capone's bottle shop yesterday. Gave this one a pour and it came out as a very nice looking rich black color with a light brown colored head on top. The retention is really good and the lacing is minimal. The smell of the beer is smokey, roasted and slightly sweet also. The taste of the beer lightly smokey with a nice roast roasted malt flavor, some subtle sweetness and bitterness working well together. The mouthfeel of the beer is nice and thick, it's very smooth and creamy. Overall I'm enjoying this beer a lot. I think it was worth the wait, I would drink it again if the price was right. (690 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.83/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a large brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma consists of rich black chocolate with notes of smoke and light bitter roasted malt. Taste is also a very good mix between some roasted malt with notes of rich black chocolate and some smoke though not as much as I was expecting. Body is quite full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very well brewed overall and quite enjoyable though more smoke would have improve the flavour profile IMHO. (516 characters)

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. (1,401 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
3.58/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours nearly black in color with a tall tan head. It’s certainly smokey. There is quite a bit of roasted malt and a touch of salted nuts. Pretty simple and straightforward aroma. A light sweetness on the palate; some toffee and a bit of chocolate to go with lots of roasted malt and smoke. There is a slight alcohol flavor in the background. (343 characters)

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. (421 characters)

Photo of TMoney2591
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

My first Icelandic find is a smoked stout? Sometimes fortune does indeed smile upon us tickers... Anyway, this stuff pours a straight obsidian topped by a strong finger of light sienna foam. The nose comprises dark smoke, roasted malts, and what may or may not be some dark coffee. The taste brings in more of the same, though now the darkness beneath the smoke is more varied: roasted malts, molasses, coffee, and dark chocolate. Combined with the dark, almost peat-y smoke, this is one of the blackest, most metal beers that's ever graced my tongue. The body is a strong medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a drying finish. Overall, a nice, deep, dark smoked stout, one certainly worthy to bear the name of such a powerful manifestation of our planet's inner mechanisms. (817 characters)

Photo of oline73
4.14/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a Hunahpu's snifter.

Appearance: The beer pours a dark, almost black color with a finger of creamy tan head that fades to a decent sized ring around the glass.

Smell: This is a very smokey stout with a sweet, dark fruit undertone. Hints of dark chocolate and smoked meat.

Taste: Just as smokey as the smell. This has a perfect taste for a land of volcanos. Dark fruit notes remind me a bit of barbecue sauce. There are some sweet notes, but I wouldn't say this is a sweet beer at all. The finish is quite smokey and a bit burnt.

Mouthfeel: The body is on the thicker side, but it isn't syrupy. The carbonation is very fluffy with a dry finish.

Overall: I really enjoyed this beer. The smoke and dark fruit notes went well together. They were out of this one when I was in Iceland, so I was excited to see it at Capones. (852 characters)

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.63/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16.9oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a short brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains roasted malts, smokiness, some dark fruit, chocolate and coffee along with a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a mild smokiness followed by flavors of dark fruit, chocolate and coffee. Then a hearty but not too heavy roasted malt character comes in. The hops presence is mild but complementary and brings some balance. The after-taste is slightly smoky and slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, it’s a solid beer but there are others in the style that I would choose first. (850 characters)

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. (1,937 characters)

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.29/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is definitely a thick stout. In flavor profile and on the body. There is a good touch of molasses on here, but what I really like most of all is the kind of berry tone that is really showing nicely after a little while of it being opened. The smoke mellows at the same time the berry thing shows up. Body is thick. This beer stays consistent. And I like it a lot. The price point is pretty high, which is somewhat of a discouraging factor, but I am happy to drop the coin. (477 characters)

Photo of russpowell
3.61/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My first beer from Iceland I believe

Pours mahogany with 2 fingers of mocha head. Some head retention & lacing

S: Carob, smokeyness, dark fruit

T: Follows the nose, much smokeyness, dryness, a hint of cherry taffy , & some woody hops up front. Smokeyness, dark fruit & carob rule the day as this warms. Finishes smokey with some dark fruit & a bit more taffy & boozeyness

MF: Thick, low carbonation, warming

Maybe a bit too smokey to drink all the time, but a nice one to take the chill out of the air, worth a go... (522 characters)

Photo of Rifugium
3.78/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

First had: on tap at Teresa's, Wayne, PA

Dark brown-black pour with a finger or so of tannish head displaying decent retention and lacing. Dark malts in the aroma, roast and smoke, a bit of peat. Taste was similar: dark malts, dark chocolate, some dark fruits, tobacco, peaty smoke, with a bit of candy sweetness. Body is on the heavier side of medium, with a bit of alcohol warmth hitting you in the end. Overall quite good. (426 characters)

Photo of kojevergas
3.43/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Acquired at a local SoCal beer store for $12.00. 9.4% ABV confirmed. 1 pint .9 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard unbranded pressure cap served into a New Belgium stem-glass in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given its current ratings.

Served after a brief rest following its removal from the refrigerator. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Paired with salted pretzel twists.

A: Pours a half finger rich tan colour head of nice cream and thickness, but below average (~1 minute) retention. Body colour is a nontransparent opaque solid black. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Appealing, if not up to par with recent examples of the style I've had. It looks as it should. No lacing as the head recedes.

Sm: Wood smoke, light bacon, dark malts, and maybe chocolate malt. The smoke is overwhelming. Licorice, charcoal, campfire. A light vinous note. My broken nose has trouble detecting anything beneath the dominant smoke; all apologies, lads. An appealing aroma of moderate strength.

T: Dominant smoke - but it's subtle and works well throughout, never overwhelming the palate or destroying the balance. Nice subtle woody tones throughout. Creamy chocolate notes help balance the rough smoke. A bit of coffee, but relatively little. No real caramel, which is a refreshing change. Not at all ashy. I get a hint of licorice/anise, but it fades. The wood notes are a highlight here, working well with the sweet chocolate. Pretty well balanced, with notable complexity and even subtlety - a rare trait in a smoked beer. I like it. In terms of flaws, there is a smoky wood rot note in the late second act that bothers me. This really holds it back, but it's still an enjoyable beer. It's too bitter, more from the roast and smoke than from its rather modest hopping.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Even a touch creamy. Good carbonation. Pretty good palate presence. Suits the flavour profile generally, but doesn't feel custom-tailored to it.

Dr: Drinkable and enjoyable, especially for a smoked beer. I think they fused the rauchbier and imperial stout elements well, but it didn't come off fantastic. An intriguing beer and one I wouldn't mind revisiting with some age on it, but I doubt I'll buy it again. Well priced for what it is, especially as an import. I'll have little trouble killing the bottle by meself.

High B- (2,446 characters)

Photo of smcolw
3.35/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Good starting head, but it dies quickly to only rim bubbles. Minute spotty lace on the glass. Inky black color where no light shines through.

Relatively mild aroma for an Imperial Stout. Some cocoa, some alcohol, otherwise rather pallid.

The flavor is more impressive than the smell. Neutral body with a higher than expected carbonation level. The flavor starts soft, but comes through in swallow where an oily alcohol presence is combined with a decent hop bite and a dark chocolate taste. (493 characters)

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

500 ml bottle into snifter, no bottle dating. Pours pitch black color with a small dense tan head with decent retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big dark chocolate, roasted malt, cocoa, coffee, char, wood, smoke, toast, smoked meat, licorice, slight dark fruit, and roasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of roasted and smoked notes; with good strength. Taste of big dark chocolate, roasted malt, cocoa, toast, coffee, char, smoke, wood, smoked meat, light licorice, light dark fruit, and roasted earthiness. Lingering notes of dark chocolate, roasted malt, char, smoke, wood, coffee, toast, licorice, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance and complexity of dark roasted flavors; with moderate smoke flavor balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a very creamy and fairly slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with hardly any warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is an excellent smoked imperial stout. All around nice balance and complexity of roasted flavors and moderate smoke; and very smooth to sip on. A very enjoyable offering. (1,265 characters)

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

A: Pours an opaque almost jet black in color with some light hints of reddish brown when held up to the light. The beer has half finger tall beige head that quickly reduces to a thick ring around the edges of the glass and a couple of patches. Significant lacing is observed.

S: The aroma has quite a bit of smoke in it along with some charred woods, toasted/roasted malts, and some light bittersweet chocolate.

T: Lots of roasted and toasted malt flavors up front along with some sweetness, then the smoke flavors come in and leave a wonderful lingering bitterness. Some very light hints of bittersweet chocolate.

M: Full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation.

O: Slightly light in the body for a Russian imperial stout but a really enjoyable beer with very nice smoke hints which do not overpower the flavors. The beer has a pretty high ABV but no hints of the alcohol in the aroma or flavor. A great sipping beer and as someone born in Iceland, really happy to have found a good beer to sample from the country. (1,024 characters)

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

On tap at monks.

Tan head with a lot of lace. Color is black.

Flavor profile is rich dark chocolate, roasted and caramel malts. A nice smoke flavor with notes of hot peppers. Lots of dark fruits. Raisins and molasses.

Mouthfeel: full bodied. Rich, smooth, and a bit roasted. Ends a little dry.

Overall, a really enjoyable beer. Easy drinking and full of flavor. Very complex. (381 characters)

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. (239 characters)

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

On-tap at Beachwood I, the first Icelandic beer I've ever been able to buy in the US,

A: Pours very black with a full tan head, good lace and retention.

S: Definite smokiness, peaty malt, with some light dark fruit, orange.

T: Lots of dark malt and chocolate, some dark fruit. Rich and full-flavoured.

M: Full-bodied, soft carbonation, nice body weight, nice aftertaste.

O: A very well made smoked Imperial Stout. The flavours are very good, the price is a problem, but in the end this is a good beer. (506 characters)

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Lava from Ölvisholt Brugghús
91 out of 100 based on 180 ratings.