1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Lava - Ölvisholt Brugghús

Not Rated.
LavaLava

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

444 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 444
Reviews: 169
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 9.71%
Wants: 36
Gots: 36 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Ölvisholt Brugghús visit their website
Iceland

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  9.40% ABV

Availability: Year-round

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

(Beer added by: stulowitz on 12-01-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Lava Alström Bros
Ratings: 444 | Reviews: 169 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MaryCeleste
5/5  rDev +21.4%

MaryCeleste, Dec 16, 2011
Photo of bigox420
3/5  rDev -27.2%

bigox420, Nov 29, 2011
Photo of RedAleMan
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

RedAleMan, Nov 21, 2011
Photo of sfprint
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
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.

sfprint, Oct 29, 2011
Photo of biboergosum
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
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.

biboergosum, Sep 07, 2011
Photo of DrJay
3.95/5  rDev -4.1%
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.

DrJay, Aug 03, 2011
Photo of Beer4Baltimore
4.43/5  rDev +7.5%
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.

Beer4Baltimore, May 23, 2011
Photo of mintjellie
4.35/5  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.

mintjellie, May 08, 2011
Photo of BBP
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

BBP, Mar 24, 2011
Photo of mrmanning
3.83/5  rDev -7%
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!

mrmanning, Mar 04, 2011
Photo of ludachris
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
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.

ludachris, Feb 17, 2011
Photo of marty21
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

marty21, Feb 11, 2011
Photo of Derek
4.53/5  rDev +10%
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.

Derek, Jan 24, 2011
Photo of hopsolutely
3.2/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A Smoked Imperial Stout that delivers all elements of its name.

Almost black with a silky mouthfeel and lots of carbonation, pouring a decent head. Smoky aroma and taste definitely present at the back of the throat in the finish. Although the 9.4% is not hidden by any stretch, a respectable Imperial Porter - and much nicer than any beer we enjoyed while physically in Iceland last year.

Not a beer style I'd typically choose for myself, but definitely a representative of it that I'd recommend.

hopsolutely, Jan 22, 2011
Photo of Testytaster
2.33/5  rDev -43.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Poured very nicely into a frosted 300ml glass (split for two people), deep color, and thick head. Taste on the other hand...strong to very strong licorice flavor with slight coffee and smokey accents.

I feel that if the licorice flavor was muted a little bit it would have made the beer that much better. All in all I can appreciate the flavor, but will not likely purchase again.

Testytaster, Jan 22, 2011
Photo of WeedKing4
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
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.

WeedKing4, Jan 15, 2011
Photo of OldGrowler
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A pretty little beer, auburn-black with a transient caramel head. Malty and pleasant, despite moderate bitterness. Although the flavors aren't especially complex, it's very drinkable and skilfully hides the 9.4%. Slight metallic aftertaste. Starts on a fruity note, ends on a smokey almost-meaty one, mmm.

OldGrowler, Jan 06, 2011
Photo of mrnobody
3.93/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle poured into a tulip.

A: Pours dead black with one finger of coffee coloured head which dissipates to a film of bubbles.

S: Smells of smoke, coffee, alcohol, a trace of vanilla.

T: Tastes smoky and sweet, again some coffee flavour, a bit of chocolate, a bit of alcohol but fairly well hidden.

M: Mouthfeel is fairly full and creamy with low carbonation.

D: The drinkability is pretty good although the smokiness may prove tiresome.

mrnobody, Jan 03, 2011
Photo of Sammy
3.83/5  rDev -7%
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.

Sammy, Dec 31, 2010
Photo of Long813
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
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.

Long813, Dec 30, 2010
Photo of biegaman
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Lava looks less like lava and more like the ash that it's sure to leave behind; it is completely charred and blackened and no longer displays even a single twinkle of colour or sign of life. The liquid looks so dense I'm surprised it can slide down the glass. Despite promising signs earlier, there is not a bubble nor thread of foam anywhere on the surface or glass.

As if the near double-digit alcohol and the words "imperial stout" written on its label weren't enough to convey that this is a beer to be slowly savored on a cold winter's night by the fireplace, the fact that it actually smells a little like a fireplace should be enough for even the dimmest person to get the idea. (By the same logic, it also kind of smells like smoked meat so I suppose you could feel free to drink it at your local deli too.)

But I digress. Emphasizing the smoke is the wrong way of going about this review - unless I emphasize the *integration* of the smoke within the balance of the beer's other attributes. Yes, that antibacterial layer of absorbed smoke is present and highly perceptible, but so too are the dark malts and the hints of chocolate and coffee that they pass on. Truthfully, however, this isn't the most complex nor flavourful imperial stout I've tried...

But, because it has the smoke, that fact is considerably disguised and easily forgotten. This is the second such 'smoked imperial stout' I've had lately and I must confess: I think it's a brilliant idea and an innate match - better even than peanut butter and jelly! The smokiness of the roasted malts dissolves seamlessly into the actual smoke, the woody dryness of which is nothing but harmonious with the dry, bitter chocolate notes and fruity alcohol esters.

I'd be lying if I said I knew much about Iceland, or that I could pronounce even a word in that crazy language of theirs, but I do know this: Ölvisholt Brugghús is one of the most promising and impressive new breweries I've come across this year and must be - I'd wager anything - the best brewery on the island. If you have the chance, do support them.

biegaman, Dec 29, 2010
Photo of fostachild
3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
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.

fostachild, Dec 24, 2010
Photo of peensteen
3.43/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours jet black with glimpses of brown when it catches the light almost no head to speak of here. Smoked coffee and dark chocolate are the first things I could smell followed by a slight alcohol/medicinal scent. Tastes of smoked chocolate, roasted coffee beans and finishes on a semi dry smokey note. Mouthfeel is good not great, a little too much carbonation that I found hard to get past. I would have this again but wouldn't go out of my way ABV is barely noticeable and its pretty unique. Overall I will say that this is above average.

peensteen, Dec 21, 2010
Photo of ThatWineGuy
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
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.

ThatWineGuy, Dec 18, 2010
Photo of paxkey
3.85/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

purchased at LCBO poured into a chimay glass.

pours like black coffee. very dark with no head.

mmm. a whiff of alcohol followed by cinnamon.tangerine. more alcohol. black licorice

appears cola like and syruppy in glass. really alot of alcohol on the nose. very strong.

tasting some red wine oak.alcohol. bitter hops. sweet malt. not a bad balance. great paired with aged cheeses something tart to balance the sweetness of the beer.

there was a best before date on bottle for sept 14, 2013. i wonder if aging would tone down alcohol.

overall i like this.

paxkey, Dec 18, 2010
Lava from Ölvisholt Brugghús
92 out of 100 based on 444 ratings.