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Lava - Ölvisholt Brugghús

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181 Reviews
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Reviews: 181
Hads: 531
Avg: 4.09
pDev: 17.36%
Wants: 57
Gots: 59 | 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: 531
Photo of Bouleboubier
4.14/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This is a very nice, elegant, delicately-smoky, lightly roasty, decidedly Scandinavian-tasting double stout.

Something about the overall yeast profile, full, satiny malt body and flavor, with a healthy hint of black licorice and floral-medicinal phenolics that immediately brings to mind other regional stouts and porters like the ones from Haand and Nøgne Ø.

The beer was poured into a Teku glass from Rastal (one of my new favorite beer glasses). Jet black liquid, with a tall, open-structured dark cocoa brown foam. The aroma didn't pop quite as much as I'd hoped, even after taking about 30 minutes to finish it off. The smoked malt was somewhat overtaken by the alcohol and cake-ish malt at first, later emerging from below to establish a fine balance. Not much bitterness, from either hop or roast. Medium-bodied with a pillowy flow. Very nicely constructed, yet ripe for enhancement (herbs, juniper maybe?)

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Photo of spinrsx
3.92/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

500ml Bottle from the Ottawa LCBO for $5

Appearance - Dark brown/black colour with a large size frothy light beige coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some decent lacing. The head lasted for over 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, hops, chocolate, coffee, smoke

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, chocolate, and a far amount of smoke. There is also some coffee and a bit of a nuttiness.

Overall - Solid RIS and the smoke doesn't overwhelm the beer. Bottle says best before mid 2013, and it's holding up very well.

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Photo of rdickey
4.07/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours an almost jet black into my tulip. A very thin, brownish head disappears almost immediately, although some spotty lacing remains.

Smell: A big snootful of liquorice and smoke – like I dumped a bushel of liquorice on my grill, waited ten minutes and stuck my head under the cover. Pretty intense.

Taste: In many ways this is a simple beer, but it’s very well done. The liquorice is joined by chocolate and, particularly as it warms, some coffee notes. The smoke surrounds everything, but doesn’t overwhelm anything. Well done, Iceland!

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, and almost creamy. Despite the massive flavors and significant ABV, though, it doesn’t feel heavy at all. In fact, the alcohol warmth doesn’t really hit until its in your chest.

Drinkability: It’s a sipper, but a highly drinkable one.

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Photo of rudzud
4.06/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle of this at Yankee Spirits in Sturbridge, MA. Had no idea Iceland exported beer, neat. As someone with a degree in geology, yah, this bottle is going right up on the shelf.

A - Poured a nice very, very dark brown with thin mocha head that even with a vigorous pour never really got more than a quarter inch. Very light side lacing.

S - Aromas of tons of smoke. Holy shit. A LOT of smoke. Faint chocolate and as someone else said salted nuts, big big smoky roasted malts. Light sweetness too.

T - Taste is almost kvass meets smoked meat and campfire. Weird. So yah, sweeter black bread, caramels, chocolate if overpowered by the big, smoky malts. Can't stress how smokey this is. If you can dig past the smoke you get nailed with some nice silky dark chocolate. Hard to get through all this smoke though.

M - Mouthfeel is really, really nice. Not quite silky but with a great full body feel and not a trace of alcohol.

O - Overall, this was a unique beer for sure. Easily the second smokiest beer I've ever had, second only to Rex Attitude by Yeast Boys which drinks like Lagavulin in beer form. This stout will definitely ruin your pallet with all the smoke so if you plan on having multiple beers end with this one.

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Photo of tigg924
4.3/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: low carbonation, 1/4 inch head, opaque, black in color

Smell: earth, dark and milk chocolate

Taste: dark and milk chocolate--smoke is present throughout

Mouthfeel: sweet and smoky with light bitterness, medium body, moderate carbonation

Overall: Wow. What a pleasant surprise. As a rauchbier fan, this rivals German versions of the style. This one is highly complex and takes the best parts of a RIS as well. I will certainly be looking for this again.

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Photo of sveinnbirkir
4.75/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Stout done right - or at least to my liking.

Black as sin, thick and slightly caramelly. Smells of licorice, chocolate and sin. Feels a bit syrupy on the tongue. A very healthy 9.2% alc. level. The head dissipates a little too quick, but otherwise as close to a dream stout as anything I've tried. I am slightly hesitant to put down a perfect score, in case there is something better out there that I haven't tasted. This is excellent, however.

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Photo of secondtooth
4.31/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep black, with only a slight amount of tan carbonation. Virtually no lace.

Nose is nice smoky malts -- lots of dark chocolate and mocha notes. An appealing amount of smoke, though, is foremost.

Taste is charry and smoky, with some coffee notes popping through. The high ABV (9%) is well submerged, and this is a deliciously complex and enjoyable stout that I'd return to anytime. Loved it!

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Photo of jmgidicsin
4.61/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Asphalt black with thick, bubbly head of dark brown. My only gripe was that the head didn't last long and didn't lace as I expected it to.

Smell - Dark chocolate, espresso and licorice with some warm malt in the background

Taste - Sweet, dark chocolate -- but not cloyingly so -- on the entry, rounding out to warmer flavors of smoky coffee in the middle with a malty finish

Mouthfeel - Thick, full-bodied and syrupy, almost like what I would expect Texas crude to feel like. A beautifully lush and rich feel.

Overall -- An exceptional beer. I enjoyed it on my birthday and hope to enjoy it again on less-than-special occasions!

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Photo of mwilbur
4.39/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 750 mL bottle into snifter.
A: Pours black as...well...an Icelandic night. Absolutely pitch black with no light emerging with backlighting. 1/4 inch dark mocha head quickly dissipates. Heavy and viscous appearing. Faint lacing. This is one serious looking brew.
S: Beech wood smoke, roasted caramel malt, dark chocolate, peat, vanilla, mild coffee, and a hint of anise and hop bitterness. Wow...wonderful aroma!
T: Milder than the powerful aroma. Beech wood smoke, char, bitter chocolate, medium roast coffee, sweet caramel malt (slightly burnt), anise, and a hint of nuts (hazelnut?). Nice complexity.
M: Medium-heavy feel. Sweet and smooth up front, then bitter and burnt which continues into the finish and after. Smoke especially in the finish and lingers on the palate.
D: Excellent complexity in an all-around solid brew. Lighter and more drinkable than you would think coming into this one. Seek it out! Drinking this makes one think of sitting in a low-roofed wood and earthen Icelandic house in the dark of winter with a warm fire keeping the chill at bay. Time to pull out the Icelandic Sagas again...

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.86/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottle from Colonial Spirits.
Solid dark brown with faint garnet at the edges with a long lasting somewhat small khaki head. Aroma is smokey with roast, chocolate, caramel, and brown sugar underneath. The flavor gives a solid hit of smoke up front with plenty of dark sugary sweetness to go around. Light chocolate and roast with just a hint of earthy hop flavor. Thick body with a light level of carbonation and a creamy silky smooth mouthfeel. Wow this is a really nice smoked imperial stout that I picked up on a whim. Thanks Todd.

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Photo of woemad
4.14/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From notes.

16.9oz bottle purchased at Total Wine in Spokane, Washington, for $9.99. No obvious freshness date. My first Icelandic beer.

Poured a viscousy dark brown color, looking virtually black in the glass. No light could penetrate this beer. There was a thick finger's worth of mocha colored head. Said head dropped to a foam collar after a few minutes.

The aroma of this beer featured smoke, coffee, and chocolate - pretty much in that order. Happily, the smoke aroma was not overpowering, but rather nicely balanced with the other above-listed attributes.

Although the smokiness was stronger in the taste than in the aroma, there were still some chocolaty, dark malt flavors cutting through. There was also a more bitter, coffeeish flavor, but it still balanced well. There was a hoppy zap to the palate at the swallow.

Full-bodied, with a mouthfeel that was oilier than I expected, but not to a disturbing degree.

Not destined to be my favorite Impy Stout, but not bad at all. Apparently they brew good beer in the land of Bjork and perpetually active volcanoes.

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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.

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Photo of aquazr1
4.6/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a small tulip, on-tap at Papago.

A - Pours an oil black with a short, tan colored head.

S - Roasted malts with chocolate, very inviting.

T - Picking up more of the chocolate with some hints of coffee and smoke.

M - Medium bodied with light carbonation.

A really good beer. The flavors are complex and I kept picking up different nuances along the way.

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Photo of JayQue
3.99/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first beer from Iceland...very nice. Pours a totally dense brown color with no light getting through...takes a hard pour, but you get a medium size brown (ten fidy colored) brown head. Some lacing and average head retention for such a strong beer.

Smell is excellent, smoky roasted malts and some chocolate. very pleasant. Taste is similar. The smokiness is prominent but not overpowering. Flavor is more of the same. Big smoky malty flavor, some chocolate and a little bit of bitterness in the finish. The smokiness is not overpowering. Just blends in with the other flavors.

Mouthfeel is rich and fairly smooth. There is a very slight bit of alcohol harshness, but not much. Goes down real easy.

An outstanding strong stout.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.58/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Blue Monk, in Buffalo, NY.

Pours black. Not the darkest beer I've ever had, some light might penetrate the liquid, but not much. 3 inch head, mocha-colored, forms on top of the beer.

Smells like roasted malt and chocolate- not much smoke in the aroma.

Much more smoke in the tastes. Sort of a campfire marshmallow taste, with some ash, chocolate. The smoke is restrained, and doesn't take over from the other flavors of chocolate, oak, and a bit of coffee.

Medium to full bodied, medium carbonation as well.

A great find, this wasn't on my radar at all, and I quite enjoyed it. Not the hugest fan of smoked beers usually- this struck a really nice balance for me. The bottle I bought later on was definitely smokier than the on-tap version.

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Photo of soju6
4.18/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: 500 ml bottle. Pours an almost black color with a small tan head and bits of lacing.

S: Aroma of roasted malt, dark chocolate, some coffee and just a bit of smoke.

T: Taste of roasted malt, almost burnt, dark chocolate some coffee, bit of caramel sweetness and a trace of smoke. Has a distinct bitterness and a dry finish.

F: Fully body, smooth with a rich texture. A well crafted beer, with the 9.4% ABV very well hidden.

Excellent beer. I did not associate world class beer with Iceland until now.

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

Pitch black color once poured with a dark tan, 1/2 inch head that went to a thin one as drinking continued. Smells of anise, bitter chocolate, coffee, dark cherries, some smoke, toasted marshmallows. The sweet taste is up-front and a bit too pronounced. That said, there's a nice wood-grilled taste, malt, more of a milk chocolate taste. The alcohol is there, and flavors of Kahlua come through, coffee, too. The carbonation is minimal, and it is not overly syrupy in consistency. Not too shabby.

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Photo of brewskifan55
4.13/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass

A: Blackish brown with a tan half-finger head that whittled down to big bubbles. Curtain-y lacing.

S: Chocolate and malts pour down the mountainside in a torrent of toffee and caramel. Mmmm.

T: Follows nose with a smooth, sweet and smokey essence. A definate sipper. Warming. Smoke is not overwhelming. Alchohol seeps in for a pleasant mellowness.

M: Medium to heavy with a frothy carbonation. Let this one play on your tongue a while.

O: A bit pricy, but I was using a gift certificate, so well worth the indulgence. Great with a chocolate chip cookie. And being a stout, it only gets better as it warms. Recommended.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.79/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500 mL bottle poured into a mini snifter.

Appearance - Pours without a head. Black with slight transparency at the edges.

Smell - Quite smokey. Chocolate. Caramel.

Taste - Markedly less smoke. More dark chocolate and a rich caramel base. Some smoke definitely present, but nothing like the nose.

Mouthfeel - Medium body, maybe pushing the light side. No booze. Medium low carbonation.

Overall - I like the smoke balance. A lot in the nose, but more of the base stout in the taste.

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Photo of Samp01
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle. A deep dark black with a slowly dissipating brown head. Aroma of dark roasted malt, caramel, some mild dark fruit with a deep smoked essence. Taste is sweet dark roasted malt, some caramel ad mild dark fruity favors with a very distinct smoked flavor and mild bitterness. Palate is medium to full body, slightly creamy and oily with moderate carbonation. Finishes with a dark roasted caramel malt, dark fruit, ending with lingering bitter sweet smoked flavor and some alcohol. Smoked flavor and aroma are stronger as it warms up. Overall a very good, flavorful brew, very nice.

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Photo of JamesMN
3.71/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Super dark brown to the point of being black in color. Basically no head despite a vigorous pour but some tan residue on top.

Aroma: Dark fruit esters, alcohol, and dark malt. Mildly complex with a richness about it.

Taste: Immidiately hit with a bit of dark smoked malt but not nearly as intense as what follows. In fact, the flavor doesn't truly develop entirely until the finish and aftertaste. Finish is smooth and almost sweet with dark malt flavor. Aftertaste lends a huge smokey kick that slowly fades away. Very light bitterness throughout and the smoke flavor does the job of balancing out the sweet malt.

Mouthfeel: Lighter in body than its 9.4% ABV would suggest. Average carbonation and good drinkability for a beer with such strong smoked flavor.

Final Thoughts: If you like Imperial Stouts and smoked malt then Lava is the beer for you. Would I drink it again? Sure.

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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!

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Photo of jondeelee
4.29/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Lava opens to a thick, smoky stout aroma that smells heavily of campfire smoke, as well as ash, tobacco, peat, and chocolate malt. The dark, ashy notes are held lightly in check by caramels and toffees, molasses and near-burnt vanilla, as well as thick brown breads and deeply toasted wholegrain bread crust. There are also some lovely fruit esters, including fig, plum, raisin, berry, and prune, lending the beer a sugary underbelly that resembles a cross between a port and a thickly-syruped fruit cocktail. There’s also an alcoholic overtone that resembles a syrupy, sugary ice wine, though with more notes of maple syrup than grape. The aromas increase greatly in this syrupy sweetness as the bottle remains open, until after a few minutes the early campfire smoke and peat notes are almost gone. Overall, the beer smells wonderful, being a battle between heavy maple syrup, concentrated dark fruit extracts, and smoke, and while the sugars are perhaps a bit too strong, they’re still very alluring.

On the tongue, the beer opens with the same heavy campfire smoke, ash, tobacco, and peat note detected on the tongue. These dark, ashy notes are joined almost immediately by vanilla, caramel, toffee, and molasses, as well as the dark fruit esters (fig, raisin, prune, plum, and berry) noted in the nose. Here, however, the ashy, smoky notes don’t fade over time, but keep pace with the sugars for the duration of the mouthful, joined by thick brown breads, rising whole wheat dough, biscuit, and toast crust. In subsequent mouthfuls the sugars to tend to increase in volume, the tawny port and sweet, maple syrup-laden ice wine notes becoming stronger early in the mouthful, but the ashy notes still catch back up as the beer is held on the tongue and the sugars die off. The aftertaste is a continuation of the heavily sweet, campfire notes of the main mouthful, but here the campfire smoke and ash notes grow and grow, until the mouth seems full of blackness, with only a few bits of syrup left for balance. Mouthfeel is medium, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, this is excellent beer, the smoky notes blending well with what is obviously a very nice Imperial Stout in the first place. Fans of the style should definitely make this a must-try.

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Photo of Axnjxn
3.78/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle into a tulip. no bottling date apparent.

Pours a pitch black color with an inch thick beige head. Pretty attractive pour. Smell is smokey chocolate malts. Taste is an intense smokey taste. A bit too smokey in my opinion. The chocolate malts are still there but are overshadowed by the smoke. Not so easy to drink. Heavier side of medium bodied with medium carbonation. An almost creamy texture. Definitely not syrupy like other imp stouts.

Overall it's different, but not my favorite. I wouldn't have another but i'm glad to have tried it.

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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.

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