Lava - Ölvisholt Brugghús

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BA SCORE
91
outstanding

180 Reviews
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Reviews: 180
Hads: 521
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 8.8%
Wants: 55
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 Beer-A-Lot
4.04/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served on tap at Birch.

A - Beautiful head. Nice black color.

S - Burnt roasted smells, subtle, appealing.

T - Taste is of burnt, roasted flavors, woody.

M - Full bodied, very nice.

O - A very nice, tasty RIS. Will drink again if I have the chance. (253 characters)

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

Picked up a bottle from CBX. Poured into an Old Rasputin shaped pint glass...

A: Pours black; light tan head (two-finger), leaves a nice ring of retention, but no lace.

S: Black patent malt; sweet; smoke - a lot of smoke.

T: Super smoky; mesquite; roasted malt; some caramel notes smooth things out on the end... the smoke lasts, though.

M: Full; creamy; moderate-high carbonation; sticky.

O: Smokiest beer I’ve ever had - hands down; pretty tasty, even though its on the extreme end of smoked beers; I’d have it again.

*from notes (6-15-12) (551 characters)

Photo of Naugros
3.94/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

I was really excited to see a beer from Iceland on my local beer store's shelves and even more so to find out it was a smoked stout.

Got it home and poured it into my Raspy nonick glass and watched as the head rose, sizzled a little and went bye-bye entirely. The color is nice though, almost black in the glass with ruddy edges, the pour looked to be a really dark coppery brown.

The smell is mostly smoke and roast. Smells a lot like a rausch without being overbearing in the burnt-down building smell. A touch of floral hops will give a nice counterpoint if you're looking for it.

Lots of flavor and the smoke is the star. If you don't like smoked beers then you can skip this, but it's not a ton of smoke. Not quite as subtle as Sam Adams' Cinder Bock or Weyerbacher's Fireside, but not as aggressive as Victory's Otto or anything by Aecht Schlenkerla. Other flavors include red wine (the dark, chewy stuff), cola, some spice (which might just be alcohol burn disguised by the other flavors) and bitter dark fruit.

The body is a bit lacking, thin and watery with a touch of satin that makes it slide down your throat...but so does water. Maybe some oatmeal would help here or a larger grain bill, but the 9.4% is sneaky enough as it is without raising it.

Not horrible and with a reworking to increase the body, this would be a very nice beer, it's just too thin for a stout. However, I do leave impressed that a stout this thin can manage to balance the flavors it dumps on you. (1,491 characters)

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

Good cover of mocha-coloured head. Black, opaque and viscous body. Head fades to a sparse cover.

Smells like smoke, minerals, very roasted malt and a little molasses with some soily hops.

Tastes of dark hops with bits of caramalized banana, smoked salmon and slight coffee. Dry cocoa on the finish with some warming alcohol. The balance is a little off but it maintains some definite interesting quality. Unique for sure.

A decently viscous stout. Medium-thick body with moderate carbonation...maybe a little too much carbonation for a stout of its size.

This stuff is pretty interesting. Quite drinkable and I'd be happy to buy some more of this stuff. I'd be interested to try it aged. I can't imagine there would be many better brews than this one coming out of Iceland. Impressive for such an obscure beer destination and especially as a pretty new take on the style for my palate. (893 characters)

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

Poured into a snifter.

A: Pitch black with a one-and-a-half-finger, tan, creamy, foamy head that lasted a couple minutes. Pretty good lacing.

S: Coffee and bittersweet chocolate.

T: Moderate sweetness and light bitterness. Dark chocolate and coffee. Really (really) smokey finish - it actually does taste like beef jerky as others have mentioned.

M: Medium bodied with fizzy carbonation. Creamy.

O: I like the look and smell of this Russian Imperial and the smokey was flavor was interesting. (497 characters)

Photo of Long813
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

BBE:

A: Pitch black body with two fingers of dark mocha head. Retention is fair and leaves decent lacing.

S: Strong notes of burnt wood mixed with chocolate and some coffee.

T: Much the same as the aroma, the taste is upfront with roasted malts and burnt wood.

M: Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Very smooth texture with a nice smokey finish. Alcohol notes aren't strong.

D: Pleasing beer. It was a well put together beer, not strongly highlighting the smoked part. It's an addition to the well made stout. (522 characters)

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. (1,575 characters)

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

Tar black beer with a foamy mocha head that took a while to die down, this beer catches no light. Smell of roasted malts, smoke, burnt coffee beans, bakers' chocolate, quite nice on the nose. Alcohol very well handled, this beer has a chocolate bitterness with a touch of sweetness, tons of toasty roasted malts, nice interplay of flavours pleases the palate A long lingering finish, burnt coffee and bitter chocolate pleases. Body in keeping with the style, weighty and substantial, this RIS impressed me and I'd certainly buy more for the holiday season; for those times around the fireplace when a simply refreshing beer won't do. (633 characters)

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. (267 characters)

Photo of Neorebel
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

"Lava" has the an appealing appearance similar to an espresso... it's the deepest shade of brown topped with a thin ring of tan colored froth. There does not seem to be much carbonation, if at all. Observed after the beer was finished, were some small patches of lacing clinging to the sides of the empty glass.

The aroma was very surprising to me, in that there was very much a burst of dark and sweet fresh fruit esters coming through the campfire smells typical to any smoked beer. The flavor itself however, did in fact lend itself mostly to earthiness and woody, charcoal smoke. There was also a savory aspect, like simple food cooked on open flames.

The mouthfeel is relatively light, as is the perceived alcohol heat, so, as log as you are predisposed to like smoked beers, this will go down very easily. Overall, I am excited to have a beer made in Iceland, and would recommend this to anyone into Rauchbiers. The smoke intensity rivals that of Schlenkerla... My only detractor is that the hoppiness in the beer, while tasty, may not be the most appropriate thing for the style. I may not have categorized this as a RIS in a blind tasting given the opportunity. I would love to have this again and try something else from this brewery as well. (1,255 characters)

Photo of oakbluff
3.3/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a dark cola with a thin mocha head and very fine lacing. Nose- sweet smokiness, dark fruit and light roast. Taste- boozy dark stewed fruit, chalky with a bitter hot finish. Less smoke in taste than in the nose. Very little malt sweetness comes through. Its a little hot for my tastes, but the smoke is a nice touch. (321 characters)

Photo of fostachild
3.99/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

picked up at an lcbo, best before: 14.09.2013. pours a really dark colour with a decent tan/brown head. didn't retain much lacing.

smokey coffee/mocha in the smell - quite nice.

taste bitter and alcoholic at times. the chocolate and coffee flavours were great. good carbonation - drinkability was okay. nice strong stout. (323 characters)

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. (614 characters)

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. (1,377 characters)

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. (1,132 characters)

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. (441 characters)

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

Pourd from a 22oz bottle... Into a shipyard tulip.

A: pours a nice dark black with traces of dark brown when held to light... Nice almost finger of micha creamy head, dissapates slowly. Looks very nice... But not much lacing...

S: like campfire, and almost marsh mellowness. Light bacon.. Black coffee ... Black licorice. A very interesting nose.... Not as overwhelmingly smoky as I expected... Which is a good thing for me.

T: much light the nose.... Campfire, char, but not overwhelimg.... A bit of bacon, a sweetness like black licorice with notes of burnt coffe rines and dark chocolate.... Nicley complex.

M: medium bodied and slick, oily, very well rounded ... Low carbonation.... The thing i like about this is that the smoke ends nicley at the end of the beer and you aren't left with a intensely smoky, lingering aftertaste.

O: a good beer, I am not a huge fan of smoke beers, but this is not
Overwhelimg, I could see how if you were a fan of this style this would be an excellent brew... And I could see how this beer would be exceptionally good for food pairings. (1,080 characters)

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. (380 characters)

Photo of WeedKing4
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark black with a nice caramal coloured foam, into a brandy snifter glass. Tastes of roasted smoked flavours with some chocolate lingering in there. Drinks down very well and I didn't pick up any hint of the 9.40% alc. Very drinkable stout. Dangerously drinkable for the percentage. Good stout. (302 characters)

Photo of GodOfBeer
4.3/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a thick black with a nice thick brown head. Very appealing.

Smells smokey upfront, some sweet brown sugar,vanilla and chocolate, pretty complex.

Tastes like it smells, smokey, very medicinal, some chocolate notes, the sweetness really lingers in the aftertaste.

Wonderfully thick mouthfeel and one of the most drinkable Imperial Stouts I've ever had, my god! This is a great smokey RIS. (395 characters)

Photo of mpyle
4.27/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Big dark tan head, creamy and with retention. Beer is opaque.

Sweet, roasty and smokey aroma. Smells of smoked meat.

Big smokey malt flavor initially. Any sweetness is well countered by the smoke and roast. Complex malty/smokey flavor though midmouth. A more assertive bitterness hits late, along with some alcohol flavors. Finishes slightly alcoholic but with a lot of smoke and roast carrying as well.

Fairly big body, low-moderate carbonation. Actually has a gentle creaminess on the tongue, and the alcohol warming in the finish is fairly subdued for the strength.

Smoke beers aren't my thing, but this beer is well made. Nice complexity of flavors, and well-controlled alcohol characteristics. And honestly the smoke is complimentary rather than overpowering. Best Icelandic beer I've ever had! (804 characters)

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. (592 characters)

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.

Prost! (836 characters)

Photo of decimator
3.93/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

500ml bottle poured into a pint glass. ABV 9.4%.

A - Poured a near black with a 1cm brown head. One of the darkest beers I've ever seen. Head reduce to some surface bubbles. No lacing.

S - Coffee and charcoal.

T - Standard stout flavour with lots of smoke. I'm having a hard time picking out the various flavours because of its smokiness. Burnt toast and hops in the finish. The ABV is very well hiden.

M - Medium-heavy body, average carbonation, nice thick syrupy texture that isn't too sticky, dry finish. Very nice mouthfeel overall.

O - Easy to drink for sure. I think the mouthfeel helps this beer a lot. (616 characters)

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

Picked up a 1 pint 9 oz. bottle of Lava Smoked Imperial Stout at the Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont, MA. Split the bottle with my stout enthusiast girlfriend. As usual, I drank this black nectar from my trusty Dogfish Head signature snifter.

Appearance (4/5): Lava pours a one and a half finger, tan-colored head that sits atop a body of motor oil black beer. I think stouts look great in stemmed glasses; this beer is no different and looks just outstanding. Very nice.

Smell (4/5): Lava smells heavily of smoked malt, though this isn't the only aroma emanating from the glass. Notes of chocolate, dark fruits, and only a slight bit of alcohol can be picked up, as well. So, the smoked malt, while dominant in the nose, mixes well with aromas more characteristic of traditional Russian Imperial-style stouts. I like that Lava is a different and unique-smelling stout, and for that it gets a bump in the smell category, but it's not close to the best Russian Imperial Stouts--one of the best smelling style categories in all of beerdom, in my humble opinion.

Taste (4/5): As with the nose, smoked malt dominates the taste of Lava. I can taste a smokiness from the smoked malt, and it is very pleasantly reminiscent of that beautiful scent given off by meat cooking on a grill...nice. I also pick up more traditional RIS flavors like chocolate, coffee beans, dark fruits, and a hint of alcohol that makes itself known moreso with a warming effect in the finish. I appreciate that the brewers didn't make this a booze bomb--while heavy ABV brews can be great, too much of an alcohol presence has been the downfall of many an imperial/double stout. The flavor is very nice and certainly unusual. It tastes like a cross between a German Rauchbier and a RIS and it's a very favorable fusion indeed. While this isn't the best tasting stout in the world, it gets a bump for being unusual and memorable.

Mouthfeel (4/5): mouthfeel on this beer is medium-thick, though not overly viscous like some stouts. It sits pleasantly on the tongue, and the smokiness of the beer does not have an adverse effect. I would say Lava strikes a good balance for an imperial stout and successfully avoids some of the problematic characteristics of heavy stouts--syrupy viscosity in the mouthfeel being one. Mouthfeel is, overall, very good.

Overall (4/5): Lava is, simply put, very good beer. It is a delicious, not overly complex new spin on a familiar style. (you don't have to add all sorts of strange ingredients to make a beer unique and memorable.) I enjoyed the smokiness of the beer very much, though I was not sure at first how well it would work with a beer brewed in the RIS style. It turned out to work great; Lava is actually quite well balanced and complex, and is not simply a smoked malt delivery system. I think anyone who enjoys imperial stouts but may be looking for something a bit different to give Lava a spin. (2,915 characters)

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