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Big Swede - Valkyrie Brewing

Not Rated.
Big SwedeBig Swede

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

97 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 97
Reviews: 88
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 10.54%
Wants: 14
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Valkyrie Brewing visit their website
Wisconsin, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: xlperro on 05-13-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 97 | Reviews: 88 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of marcobrau


3.75/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter this beer is a very dark brown. What little foam that is created with the pour diminishes quickly to nothing but a few bubbles. The liquid left in my snifter has just a hint of carbonation. The nose is rather interesting with burnt sugar, cocoa and anise. Very assertive flavors of burnt grains, anise, cocoa have me thinking of a stout infused with akvavit (as Scandinavian distilled beverage.) It gets rather complex with bits of dark fruits (I'm thinking figs, raisins), cocoa and molasses followed by the return burnt grain which contributes a harsh bitterness which is in turn downplayed by a smooth anise liqueur finish. Not sure of the alcohol content, but this seems quite potent. Perhaps a little too light-bodied though, as I think some others have said? I like some of the flavors in this beer, but the perceived alcohol content, harsh bitterness and astringency drops the drinkability score -- it's quite a bit of work to get through this beer due to its strength and extremely robust flavors -- different than any other RIS I've sampled.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2009 03:23:21 | More by marcobrau
Photo of BeerBelcher


3.75/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A big and reach beer with some mixed blessings; thin in body and very light on carbonation (even for an Imperial Stout), but with some nice flavor and drinkability. Pretty good.

Color is (of course) black. Body is a bit thin. Carbonation is virtually non-existent; it looked like a glass of wine when I poured it into a tulip. Aroma was surprisingly robust to me given the thinness of body; it smelled to me a lot like bourbon. Flavor was definitely not bourbon-y; roasty with a lot of fruit notes that reminded me of raisins. Pretty good.

I would recommend this. Very liquor/spirit like.

Serving type: bottle

10-30-2008 01:12:56 | More by BeerBelcher
Photo of rhoadsrage


4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in a dimple mug)

A- This beer has a jet black body with a transparent thin film of yellowish-beige head that moves to a thicker ring around the edges. There are tiny bubbles stuck to the side of the glass but that is the only sign of carbonation.

S- The smell of roasted black malt has a slight fruity raspberry hint and a soft vinous note to it.

T- The big black roasted malt flavor has an inky quality about it with a tad bit of tartness to it a vinous note as it warms. The finish is a soft chalky taste with a inky bitterness and a faint mint quality about it.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a slippery texture and no alcohol heat noticed. There is a slight astringency from black roasted grain that lingers a bit after the finish.

D- This is my first Swedish style Imperial Stout and it was nice. The big inky black beer was smooth but didn't have much depth of flavor.

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2008 00:58:32 | More by rhoadsrage
Photo of morimech


3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A very short lived small head forms on the dark black body. No lacing is left on the glass. Most unimpressive looking RIS I have seen.

I smell chocolate, licorice, and a lot of perfumey alcohol. The flavor is big on solvent alcohol character that wipes the malt flavors quickly away. The chocolate malt is delicious while it lasts. Finishes clean and warm. The body is a bit thin for the style but still relatively full bodied. Carbonation is low and lends a creamy texture. A good sipper but there are far better RIS out there. It should cellar nicely and would improve with some age.

Serving type: bottle

10-25-2008 14:48:02 | More by morimech
Photo of Atron67


4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle that looks nothing like the pic. also describes itself as a swedish style imperial stout, but who knows what that means.

A- tan brown head on top that quickly fell to a thin head and a dark black body. after a few minutes was really just a dark black body with no head.

S- big malty body, black and chocolaty flavor all over. actually smells really delicious.

T- smooth malty flavor, big roasted character, pretty damn delicious, slight cherry flavor, smooth malty. this will age like a charm. delicious

M- thick body, light carbonation, heavy handed all over

D- pretty damn delciious and a good sipper

Serving type: bottle

10-18-2008 02:51:33 | More by Atron67
Photo of SaCkErZ9


3.73/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to unclejedi for this one.

Served from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Pitch black with absolutely no highlights or light penetration of any kind. A very small and faint, beige colored head forms. It is wispy and rades rapidly. No lacing.

Aroma is very sweet. Chocolate malts, molasses, plums, figs, any other dark fruit out there, a touch of vanilla, licorice.

A little on the sweet side. Alcoholic as well. Sticky, fruity. This one is quite boozy. Mostly chocolate malts, minimal coffee, more dark fruit. Dried plums really seem to be he overwhleming flavor here. And did I mention the alcohol?

A bit thin. Finishes rather dry, almost bone dry. Fruity aftertaste and a burning heat from the alcohol.

I wouldnt go so far as to say this one is a solvent-like beer, but the abv really shows. I dont mind it too much. 12oz is certainly enough of this one. The heat and alcohol feel make this low on th drinkability scale. Certainly a sipper.

Serving type: bottle

10-07-2008 21:17:25 | More by SaCkErZ9
Photo of tedpeer


3.93/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle poured into a chalice.

A - Vigorous pour left a very thin film that quickly disappeared, leaving a ring around. Brown, not quite black.

S - Coffee and chocolate notes.

T - A mild coffee taste, as well as some dark chocolate. Slight warmth from alcohol.

M - Medium to thin mouthfeel, definately not up to an Imperial Stout.

D - Goes down easy.

Serving type: bottle

07-08-2008 01:33:49 | More by tedpeer
Photo of Deuane


4.18/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to nflmvp for offering up this one and to unclejedi for given me the heads up on it during a recent visit to WI.

A-Dark brown, almost black, almost like cola. Not sure if it was my glass or maybe the age of the beer but this one had no head and left me disappointed.

S-Oak and vanilla notes blend nicely with rich coffee and chocolate. A most pleasant brew for inhaling.

T-Dark roasted coffee notes and biter dark chocolate flavor. Bourbonesque notes in the background too. All in all a bit muted compared to the aroma.

M-Medium bodied and maybe not quite as robust as I would have liked. Overall though good with a very nice smoothness.

D-A very nice brew from an unknown brewery to me. I was pleasntly surprised by the quality of this one. Totally solid...another please?

Serving type: bottle

05-25-2008 10:50:37 | More by Deuane
Photo of mully


3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours dark/black very thin head that hangs around
smells sweet, molasses coffee and roast malts nutty a little boozy
Patent malts, coffee dark chocolate a little bit of residual sweetness
a little syrupy but not overwhelming
slides down easy for what seems to be a big beer

Serving type: bottle

04-20-2008 02:48:16 | More by mully
Photo of happygnome


4.18/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a: pours a very dark black color with about a quarter inch of head that dissapears fast leaving a little ring around the edge of the glass
s: coffee cocoa with hints of bananna very inviting, no hints of alcohol
t: roasted malts cocoa and coffee no hints of the bannana that there was the slight hint of in the aroma
m: medium to to full bodied beer with average carbonation

overall, i really enjoyed this, very good will deffinatly pick up more

Serving type: bottle

03-06-2008 03:45:39 | More by happygnome
Photo of mikesgroove

South Carolina

4.13/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle served at 50 degrees and poured into a pint glass

A - Poured a very nice and very thick dark chocolate brown, almost black, however there was just enough light getting through to give it a rich chocolate note. A rather large tan head about two inches high then rose up over this dark liquid and crowned the top of the glass for a good few minutes. Eventually it decided to settle down and left behind a nice pillow of brown foam, which stayed until the very end of the session. Very thick lace surrounded the glass throughout this entire time and really obscured the insides for a good long while. Really quite nice actually and a very good-looking stout.

S - The aroma was very pleasing and welcomed on this rainy night. Very nice blend of rich coffee and chocolate notes that were swirled around in a good amount of sugar. Lots of interesting notes in here as well. This was one of those that needed to sit down and warm up a while for the really interesting things to start happening. Some nice notes of a bourbon like alcohol and perhaps a hint of some vanilla starting to come out now. Still real strong with the chocolate notes and nice sweetness, perhaps a touch of oak or maybe it is just a deep roasted earthy malt, but either way very nice and definitely was smelling the part so to speak.

T - The flavor followed suit almost perfectly with the rest of the presentation. The first notes to come across to me were a deep roasted coffee taste, not the kind as if you normally find in a coffee stout, but rather, more of a hint of it, laced within an imbedded biter dark chocolate flavor. Lots of earthy tastes in here too, vanilla, caramel sugar, all playing a role. Some dark and fruit, perhaps even a raisin was cloying around trying to break through. The finish definitely had a bit of a hoppy note as well, really coming through the longer you let it linger. Some nice fresh grass flavors mixed in with the sweetness really giving it some nice depth in the profile. Overall, it was defiantly very full flavored and the evolution over the course of the session was not only nice, but also very well balanced.

M - Not as full bodied as I would have liked, it came off as a very full porter, or a lighter stout, whichever you prefer, but in these days of the Imperial Stout, this did not really come through in that class. There was however still very nice qualities to this one that cannot be ignored. Rich smooth and creamy it was very full on the tongue and the carbonation was definitely not a letdown here as you could tell it was still alive all the way until the end. Nice and strong all the way through the finishes, this was definitely a very nice beer.

D - Outstanding for something called an Imperial Stout. I am not really sure what the alcohol content on this one was, but I really could not pick up any of it throughout the session. It really had a very shippable, but as the same time sessionable quality to it. Being very sweet and not soo much as filling as others, it was definitely a winner. I would have loved to have had some more of this one any day.

Overall I did not know what to expect when I was getting myself into a Swedish Imperial Stout, but I was more then pleasantly surprised to say the least. The flavors were extraordinary and the rich creamy feel was just what I needed at the time. I of course have has much bigger in the way of stouts, but this was still excellent and a real treat. I would be glad to try this one again anytime.

Serving type: bottle

03-05-2008 18:31:57 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of Lordsloth


3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle with foil wrapping.

I served it a bit cold for a SIS(Swedish Imperial Stout as they called it), and there was practically no head at all- just a thin, tan, bubbly layer on top. A nice dark brown/black beer.

Smells good- a choclatey/coffee flavor floats up from the glass. Taste was more like a sweet Milk Stout at first, with a deeper coffee/Imperial stout flavor afterwards. A bit light in the mouth for an RIS though. Drinkability was ok. Alcohol content was hidden well. A pretty good offering. Next time I will let it warm up a bit longer.

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2008 15:42:00 | More by Lordsloth
Photo of elricorico

Alberta (Canada)

4.05/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Black in the glass, opaque. One finger of tan head that leaves a bit of lacing as it goes.

The smell had me very excited. Sweet chocolate cake with a rum tinged chocolate icing. The notable alcohol in the aroma was pleasing to the nose.

The taste was good, but didn't quite live up to the smell. Milky coffee, caramel sweetness, bitter chocolate and an alcohol heat.

The body wasn't quite as full as I expected, but the carbonation was adequate and the overall effect was pleasant. An all around good example of the style, thanks to orrshow for sharing the bottle.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2008 17:45:12 | More by elricorico
Photo of Beertracker


3.73/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Viking's Big Swede is best served at warm cellar (50-55°F) temperatures from a brandy snifter or pear shaped stemmed glass. The Big Swede pours up with a small, tightly bubbled khaki head that's barely sustanable over a rather opaque dark brown body. The initial aroma is seemingly marred by a vegetal (DMS) presence with some oxidation (papery/sherry notes), but as it warms in hand this dissipates and becomes more complex with rich, fruity esters (black currant, elderberry), but has an herbal (licorice root, vanilla bean) overtone with a dominate sweet, dark malt roastiness (coffee/mocha). Alcohol warmth is well masked. The initial characater is a bit odd, but definitely malt oriented with lots of sweet mochachino & some sugary (muscavado/treacle) notes with some of dark fruitiness and complexity from the yeast. The finish is a bit sharp and abbreviated, but remains malty nontheless. This medium-full bodied ale is lightly carbonated, creamy, and warming. The Big Swede is quintessentially more of a Baltic Porter than a Russian Imperial Stout. Viking's Big Swede is a welcomed friend on a cold winter's night.

CHEERS! Beertracker

Taster's Note: *Special thanks to hoppymeal for the bottle!

Serving type: bottle

01-22-2008 07:58:37 | More by Beertracker
Photo of tempest


2.68/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I seemed to have a pleasant memory of the last time I tried the Big Swede. My current bottle doesn't match those expectations, however. The aroma is a mix of vegetables and Jell-o chocolate pudding. The flavor follows with a hint of roasted grains and smooth milk chocolate, but mostly ugly veggies flavors. I don't think this bottle has an excuse or anything. I picked it up as a single from a fridge at the Blue Max - same place I got the last bottle. I can at least say the alcohol is well-hidden, bravo. I can't drink the whole bottle of this, though.

Serving type: bottle

01-04-2008 07:08:47 | More by tempest
Photo of OWSLEY069


3.53/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours jet black with a small light tan head. In the aroma, smokey and sweet coffee, In the taste, a sweet oatmeal maltiness. A smooth big bodied mouthfeel and a dry malty and coffee aftertaste. Smooth and nice coffee presence. ABV is not known but was not really tasted, has to be lighter for a imperial stout.

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2008 16:27:11 | More by OWSLEY069
Photo of joe1510


4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz Bottle
$5.49 4-Pack
Coffee Grounds, Eau Claire

Viking's Big Swede Swedish Style Imperial Stout poured (after a very hard pour) the darkest of browns bordering on black. No light shines through the body except an occasional mahogany highlight, and this is only when held to the light. A super creamy brown tan head formed on the pour and fell to a cap rather quickly. The head only formed after a very aggressive pour. Leaves some patchy lacing.

The aroma on this beer is unique and I'm digging it. It's hard for me to even describe. Mild black coffee and super concentrated sour inedible berries (like what? I'm not sure). Roasty malts glide around in the background and as it warms a toffee/butterscoth like character comes forward. It all comes to a halt with a nice pine sap finish.

Starts off with a decent but not overpowering roasted maltiness and leads quickly into those slightly sour and tart berries I mentioned in the aroma. Fresh coffe beans show up on the swallow along with a nice dose of pine needle hop bitterness (more than your average stout). Unique and tasty brew.

Medium bodied with a slightly oily mouthfeel. Mild carbonation lets this beer mosey on through coating every tastebud on it's way through.

This is a good stout that goes down easy. It doesn't taste to me like the alcohol is too big to get in the way of having a few bottles in a sitting.

My first beer from the brewers at Viking. A unique stout that I could keep on drinking. I wish now I would have gotten more than just one 4-pack my last trip up to Wisconsin. Good stuff.

Serving type: bottle

09-22-2007 02:42:16 | More by joe1510
Photo of Flyer


3.4/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Doesn’t come across as very “imperial,” but it’s fairly enjoyable. Pours inky black with a small head. Very little aroma. The up front is roasty and smokey, satisfying in the way of a good stout but not very intriguing. It finishes a little bitter-sweet. Before this, I’d never had a beer as high as 8% ABV with so little detectable alcohol – for me, that’s not a plus. This is an okay-to-good imperial stout, but its problem is that it lives in a world with more than a few great imperial stouts.

Serving type: bottle

08-06-2007 03:09:17 | More by Flyer
Photo of Chaz


3.65/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours an inky-black to the eye. When held to direct light it's more like a deep crimson-brown, but it's pretty darn dark at any rate. A medium-firm pour produces a darker tan head, with good retention and lacing. The nose is fairly non-descript by comparison to many other renditions in the style, with dark and caramelized/burnt malts, and light notes of toffee, bitter chocolate, and licorice. Lightly fusel and boozy - hooray booze! A bit more expressive on the first sip, with the roasted malts and semi-sweet / bittersweet chocolate notes making an immediate impression. Some of those dark malts seem bitter (burnt) and acrid, and in this case help to balance out the rather cloying sweetness of this brew. Fairly warming and certainly quite warming as it warms, the alcohol is nonetheless "cooler" on the palate and in the aromatics than I recall it being back in the bomber bottle days. Notes of sweet red apple, plum, date, and lighter licorice. Body seems a bit thin for the style but this doesn't harm the drinkability, and might actually improve it. Mouthfeel is just about average (I'm erring on the side of familiarity . . . ) This is perhaps a bit more "average" than I recall (especially with the scores of great RIS and American Stout renditions available these days), and is sweeter than I like in the style. Still, Big Swede is a solid brew worth revisiting. A sipper, well-suited toward cooler months, as well as a dessert beer ready and waiting for a cigar or two to mellow out with.
Served chilled, in a bulb.

Serving type: bottle

06-15-2007 21:05:44 | More by Chaz
Photo of IntriqKen


3/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours pitch black with a tan head that melt to a tan covering of tiny bubbles.

Aromas are slightly smokey and surprisingly fruity.

Flavors are dark toasted malt, some smokiness, and sweet fruitiness that ends up leaving a bit of citrus in the mouth.

Not at all like an RIS to my humble tongue. Too much fruit sweetness and no toasted brown sugar sweetness. I imagine this is due to the selection of hops but I found it unusual and slightly distracting.

Serving type: bottle

05-11-2007 03:12:22 | More by IntriqKen
Photo of CFbeermaker


4.38/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured "black, like midnight on a moonless night", with a small light brown head. Smells of roasted barley and chocolate with a sweet smell like a scotch and water. Tastes how it smells with a little smokiness and some faint floral hops at the end. Has a nice mouthfeel. Not as heavy of a beer as it looks and is actually quite smooth and pleasant to drink. It also seems to be getting better as I drink it which almost reminds me of a scotch on the rocks type feel.

Serving type: bottle

04-24-2007 03:53:03 | More by CFbeermaker
Photo of Crosling


3.65/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown color with a light brown head. Mild and a bit disappointing aroma. Fairly good, but not great in the flavor profile. A bit sparse and poorly extracted, not much complexity or character. Finishes fairly well though, with lingering chocolate character.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2007 06:23:06 | More by Crosling
Photo of ArrogantB


3.43/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer was a very dark black pour into a pint glass since I didn;t feel like using a snifter. The head is short and white but hangs around a little. Not a bad RIS but then again, nothing special here. I probably would not buy this beer if it were available. I am not quite sure what made it Swedish style?

Serving type: bottle

03-05-2007 16:57:40 | More by ArrogantB
Photo of umustdrink


4.33/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Completely opaque black color. Head is a nice brown color that settles at an eighth inch. Lacing is in small patches.

S - Chocolate pudding, bananas, milk chocolate and a very light roast coffee.

T - Nice roasted malt flavor, I taste more chocolate where others might say its more like coffee. Some sweet vanilla, banana, and lighter chocolate tones. Finish is a nice light coffee.

M - Consistency is on the thin side but with a nice chalkiness. Taste sticks with you for a long time.

D - Very nice and pleasant all around. Will have again and will recommend.

Serving type: bottle

02-20-2007 05:52:08 | More by umustdrink
Photo of BuckeyeNation


4.47/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Impenetrable mahogany with a glimmer of reddish gold along the bottom edge of the glass. In spite of an increasingly elevated pour, the mocha colored cap only reached a height of a slim one finger. It's hanging in there reasonably well, but doesn't look the type to leave any lace. At only 8%, the beer shouldn't be this head and lace deficient. It's still a good looking stout.

The nose is great because it's powerful and because it's multi-faceted. The primary aromas are roasted barley, bittersweet chocolate and coffee. The thing that makes it different is a bourbon-like, charred oak, vanilla esteriness. I'm pretty sure Big Swede isn't aged in bourbon barrels, but it might as well be.

I'm not sure that Russian Imperial Stout is the correct style. And I have no idea what Swedish Style Imperial Stout even means. When compared to the heavy hitters, this one comes up a bit short on brute strength and mouthfeel. Not to worry because it more than makes up for it by being stupendously delicious.

I've had a lot of big stouts, but I don't know that I've ever had one that tastes quite like Big Swede. There's more than usual happening on the taste buds, all of it good. For starters, sweet, sour and bitter are exceptionally well-balanced. All are present and all contribute something of value at differents points along the flavor arc. As is often the case, sweet dominates early, sour occupies the middle and bitter cleans up at the end.

I would have bet that Viking ages this sucker in bourbon barrels. Every one of the usual suspects are present: brown sugar, vanilla (especially), a light oaky char, even a little smoke. I'm alternating between trying to break it down during one mouthful and simply enjoying it the next. I know one thing, I wish I had the big bottle rather than this woefully inadequate twelve ouncer.

I've changed my mind about the mouthfeel. Even though it isn't as massive and as thickly chewy as I might like, it's as silky smooth as any beer in recent memory. I have no problem with the carbonation being on the low end if it results in a mouthfeel this luxurious.

Nothing that I've had from Viking prepared me for the incredible beer... that is now gone from my glass. It's easily the finest thing these guys have ever created. I'm compiling a list of what to look for the next time I venture up to Madison. Big Swede has just been added, given a few exclamation points and circled. Outstanding!

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2007 16:44:18 | More by BuckeyeNation
Big Swede from Valkyrie Brewing
87 out of 100 based on 97 ratings.