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Northwind Imperial Stout - Two Brothers Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Northwind Imperial StoutNorthwind Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

403 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 403
Hads: 868
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: 12%
Wants: 26
Gots: 66 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Two Brothers Brewing Company visit their website
Illinois, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  9.10% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-14-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 403 | Hads: 868
Photo of mikesgroove
4.33/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Grabbed this one as an extra twice in the last month, go figure. I saw that as a sign I should probably try one. Served chilled and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 05/19/2009.
 
The pour was fantastic. Rich dark brown, and completely opaque. Huge head of tan rises up and over the top, only gradually settling down as the session gets going. Rich looking is an understatement here as this one presented exactly as it should have. Lots of chocolate in the aroma right away, hints of vanilla and molasses start to pop up as it comes up near room temperature along with a notable cookie dough like presence, very sweet. Smooth, creamy body here really let the flavor sit in well, and the sweet, dessert like profile just continued right along as it progressed. Light coffee notes, lots of cocoa and a hint of molasses. Definite night cap here. Not much in the way of ABV issues for the style made it somewhat session able if dare I mention it.
 
Overall not bad at all. Nothing going to blow your mind here, but I have to say this was a more then solid effort on their part. I would have no issue at all with having this one again, in fact I might look for it as it really seemed to go over quite well. (1,224 characters)

Photo of DrDemento456
4.33/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - A harsh pour produced two inches of mocha head. Lacing is medium on this one with a very dark black liquid.

S - Smells mostly of roast coffee which is awesome. Slight cocoa and chocolates along with a mild bit of hops as well. Then I wait for the foam to settle...

T - Sweet chocolate and bitter roasted coffee hit the tongue at the same time. Little hop presence which is good since the beer is over 5 months old. The finish almost has a sweet malted toffee tone that is tasty.

M - Perplexing since it drinks very medium bodied but it's a 9 percent full bodied imperial.

Overall it hard to say it but this beer is right on par with southern tier Oat. Great sweetness with a balanced roast and very drinkable. At 2.19 a bottle I now kick myself for not getting a sixer since it's so damn tasty. Not sure why this has a B rating since it screams A quality. (863 characters)

Photo of FishHeadLover
4.33/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Love this brewery so I was really looking forward to this one.
A- Poured black with a little thickness, brown head that laced around the edge of the glass.
S- Smelled of slight coffee and chocolate.
T- Taste was smooth with hints of chocolate and coffee. The ABV was lighter than I am use to in an imperial but it went well with the taste.
M- Not as chewy as some imperials but it had a coating on the tougue that was nice.
D- Very drinkable very smooth and finished without any hint of burnt coffee. (501 characters)

Photo of mynie
4.32/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Nice pour, not rough at all. Big brown head, nearly completely opaque, mild degree of carbonation belaying the comparatively low ABV.

Smells of intense raosted malt, bitter, dry and burnt. This is a complemented nicely, if strangely, by a harsh semisour Belgiany yeast. Not what I'm used to in an RIS, but very good.

Tastes--tastes not very much like an RIS at all. The yeast is what starts things out, and it starts out strongly, almost like a Belgian dark, chocoately and burny sour. This drops off quickly into a middle of very dark chocolate and then, clear as day, a pleasant node of burning leaves, ending again on a very smooth and sweet Belgiany yeast. Nice.

This tastes more like a Belgian export stout than a Russian Imperial. It'd probably have a higher rating if it was labeled as the former, actually. Still, at 3.99 a bomber this was quite the deal, and it's nice to come across a strong stout that's still highly drinkable and doesn't kick you so hard in the ass. (987 characters)

Photo of woodychandler
4.31/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

I had purchased this, along with several other Two Brothers bottles, at The Fridge, meaning to try them as a vertical, but this one kept getting shunted to the side until now.

From the bottle: "Dark delights like this were once shipped to the Imperial Court of Russia. With a firm roasty maltiness balanced against a generous helping of hops, Northwind can stand up to the worst its namesake can dish out! Enjoy it by a roaring fire!; "Two Brothers is a craft brewery on the outskirts of Chicago that specializes in rare and seldom-brewed beer styles. The two of us - Jason and Jim Ebel - strive to produce the very best beers available anywhere."; "We hope that you enjoy them as much as we do!"

I always enjoy a heavy-handed pour from a bottle. I have gotten quite good at knowing when to stop and the resulting pseudo-cascade is a sight to behold. I netted a sturdy two fingers of dense, deep-tan head as the result of my pour and it sat there stubbornly, like Pussy Riot after being released by Putin. Color was an inky, deep, dark-brown allowing less than ZERO light penetration (SRM = 44). Nose smelled of fire smoke and dark chocolate. Wow. Mouthfeel was thick and viscous and tasted and felt like a dollop of dark chocolate ice cream had been scooped onto my tongue. The 9.1% ABV was well-masked, making for an alarmingly smooth, easy-drinking beer. Warming, the chocolate flavors became even more prevalent and the smokiness began to wane. The finish was semi-dry, not really sweet at all, but not totally dry, either. I really liked this, despite not being a huge fan of the style. (1,593 characters)

Photo of lightindarkness
4.3/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured oily black with an aggressive bubbly tan head settling to very little, leaving bubbly lace. Only a few deep red highlights catch on the bottom of the glass. Roasted grain and fruit scents brim from the glass, with prune, burnt wood, and smoke. An interesting mix of sweet, tart, and sour aromas. Taste is unique and inviting, with a good deal of cocoa, dark toasted bread, and juicy dark fruits. A light smoke flavor seems to tie it all together very nicely, giving it a mature taste. Finishes with some clean hop bitterness. Sticky, smooth, and slightly dry on the back end. Though differing from many RISs in feel and taste, a very unique and great beer on its own. Excellent drinkability, very palatable and easy to consume with a reasonable abv. Not what I expected in a RIS, but an excellent brew. (809 characters)

Photo of Wasatch
4.3/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks goes out to Buebie for this brew.

Lot 3178

Poured into a tulip a black color, nice carbonation, nice one-finger creamy tan head, with lots of sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, with some vanilla, chocolate/toffee. The taste is very nice, sweet, malty, with nice touch of chocolate/toffee notes. Medium body, this is not a high ABV IS, but very tasty. Very drinkable. (386 characters)

Photo of blakesell
4.29/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer has been aged in my cellar for roughly 2 years under the best cellaring conditions that I can muster.

Poured from the 22oz bottle into an over sized brandy snifter.

Appearance- Beer pours a solid midnight with no head at all really, lacing does cling to the sides pretty thickly. There is a somewhat gluey consistency to the beer itself.

Smell- Lactose and milk chocolate upfront with many many dark malts bringing up the rear. I really love the two brothers yeast strain, especially after aging the smell really jumps out of their beers.

Taste- Dark malts upfront with a nice creamy chocolate coating coming through. Lightly bitter but seems quite balanced. Very thick on the mouth. Some light licorice notes and some prunes as well on the tongue.

Mouthfeel- Creamy and thick with very low warming, which isn't that surprising as the beer isn't that high on the ABV levels. Full bodied, medium in carbonation levels.

Drinkability- Very smooth on the drinkability scale and I would love to try it on tap. (1,015 characters)

Photo of scruffwhor
4.29/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bomber. Poured into my Carlsberg impy pint glass.

Appearance- Pours a 90% solid black with the other 10% being a UPS brown. Head was a nice beige color with retention nicely mainatined at the filmy foam level.

Smell- I've had some very good RIS's, and a lot had very strong, easily defined aromas. This one had creamy hazelnuts with splashes of cascade hops miced with bakers chocolate. But keepin mind all these smells were muted. Or they weren't almost overpowering. Really let your nose dive into the smell than be overwhelmed.

Taste- Strat out with slightly hoppy, creamy hazelnuts. Actually, a good taste comparison with this beer is chocoate, hazelnut coffee. But once again, the flavors weren't cloying.

Mouthfeel- Rich, but not too rich for an RIS. Not too mention nutty and creamy. (825 characters)

Photo of Erish
4.28/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I poured this 12 oz. bottle into a Nonic pint glass.

A: opaque blackish-brown color, an aggressive pour unleashed a thick, cascading, dark tan head that fell into a wonderful cap with tenacious lacing.

S: coffee, molasses, roasted malt, smoky oak, soy sauce, dark chocolate, hint of farmer's cheese. Classic RIS profile.

T: loads of roasted malt flavor up front, as well as a hint of farmer's cheese, the coffee is strong in the middle, followed by an anise and chocolate note, as well as a generous grassy/herbal hop note, the finish is grassy hop/toasted malt bitter, somewhat chalky, and smoky. Nicely balanced with good structure and fidelity to the profile. Well done.

M: medium to full-bodied, lightly creamy, finish is slightly oily, the carbonation is low to moderate, the lingering finish is chalky.

D: This is a wholly enjoyable RIS, with plenty going for it. I would put this among the top of the second tier of RISs. If the mouthfeel were more satisfying, it would rub shoulders with FBS and Old Rasputin. (1,022 characters)

Photo of JohnnyChicago
4.28/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a goblet.

A: Pours a dark chocolate with a mocha head, pretty!

S: Chocolate and black patent malt in the nose, with some bittering hops in the back.

T: Lots of chocolate and creamy malts. A hint of lactose even? Really, just lots and lots of milk chocolate.

D: No joke, one of the top three most drinkable RIS. This brew is so well balanced I felt like I was drinking a Great Lakes beer.

Overall: Its been said before and its true: this is a one-note beer. Its just a huge load of chocolate. That being said, they really milk that one note for all its worth; this beer is never boring and is remarkably smooth and drinkable. A good and unpretentious RIS. (690 characters)

Photo of schoolboy
4.27/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I went to a stout tasting event yesterday and this was not one of the featured beverages, but I bought one of these to try yesterday, and I like it a lot.

It opens beautifully to a foamy dark dark brown. The head keeps going and lace continues too. The aroma is first rate. It's a mild combination of hops and roasty aroma. Nice.

The taste is well balanced and extremely drinkable. You could have several of these and not notice the booze taste or aroma, but it is there. It has a bitter and sweet aftertaste.

Overall, this is a very satisfying Russian Imperial Stout. It may be a little lighter on flavors than some, but it is more drinkable than most.

On a later re-tasting I did not like this nearly as much and it had a slightly sour taste. (748 characters)

Photo of dhannes
4.26/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a standard pint glass.

A=Very dark brown...poured a large (3 finger) golden head that lasted over a minute.

S=Almost non-existant. Faint smell of semi-sweet chocolate and cocoa powder.

T=Coffee with tangy aftertaste; hints of irish whiskey flavoring, as well as slight chocolate flavors; slightly sweet as well.

M=Very drinkable...perhaps a bit less body for the style; almost no carbonation left; cannot taste the alcohol.

O=My bottle had been in the cellar for 3+ months, and probably was on the shelf for a month or two before that. Very nice beer that is good by itself or may go well with red meat or barbecued chicken, perhaps. Would buy again. (667 characters)

Photo of innersanctum
4.26/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A big shout out to my main boilermaker, Jim E for this awseome gift!

Poured this 12 ounce gem into a British pint glass and really enjoyed this smooth stout

Jet black appearance with 2 fingers of foamy tan colored head and retention; this brew looks perfect, and staring at that glass rekindles an image of a British pub

Aroma of a sweet, biscuitty, and dark chocolate notes

Rich, full bodied, toasty malt, balanced with some hops which accentuate the side of my tongue, and a finish with a bit of zing that lingers on the palate. The 9% ABV is not present in the taste, where many stouts this potent are sipper type beers, the alcohol is unobtrusive.

Very balanced, yet medium heavy mouthfeel, which is perfect for tonight's 32F temperature outside

This is a nice easy drinker (784 characters)

Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: Pours an opaque black under a 1” tan head S: dark malt and dried fruit aromas T: Dark malt flavors, chocolate, dark dried fruit, moderate hop bitterness. This beer has a good balance of dry and sweet and bitter. F: The carbonation is exceptionally fine – almost like a nitro beer. O: A satiating very easy to drink Russian Imperial Stout. (347 characters)

Photo of pagriley
4.25/5  rDev +13.3%

2013 vintage, so a year of bottle age

A - pours pitch black, head dissipates quickly with a little lacing
S - Caramel, a hint of coffee and a bit of dried dark fruits coming through
T - toasty and roasty
M - smooth as you could want. A touch lighter in the body (no surprise given it is a year old)

Overall a super solid Imperial stout. Not sure why a fair few people aren't that excited - it is a $12 6-pack classic imperial stout that checks all the boxes! 2 bucks a bottle people! (489 characters)

Photo of McNealc31
4.24/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours like it should. Black with a dark brown head. In love with the aroma, charred wood, vanilla, and dark fruits. Surprisingly smooth and creamy. The flavor isn't bludgeoning, but what is there is tasty and well balanced. Deep roasted malt, burnt marshmallows, and eventually toffee.

Not the biggest Imperial Stout out there, but quite tasty. Quaffable, to say the least. (374 characters)

Photo of oreo
4.24/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on tap at the Two Brothers Tap House.

Deep black with a 1 finger tan head.

Smells awesome. Tons of coffee and chocolate and roasty malts! This is my type of beer.

Smell is better than the taste. The coffee seemed faded in comparison to the smell, but still noticeable. Chocolate and roasty malts make their presence known throughout this beer. When fresh, this beer has a nice bitter hop finish.

Thick stout mouthfeel.

Very drinkable at 9%. Be careful! (464 characters)

Photo of tjsdomer2
4.23/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: Nice solid black appearance. Good thickness for a stout. Decent head and good lacing. Definitely solid.

Smell: Roast coffee with hints of chocolate. This is the only stout I can think of that smells more of coffee than chocolate, or at least notably so. Refreshing smell.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Mainly chocolate and coffee. Some dark fruit as well. Nothing that really stands out and it's not that strong, besides a nice smokiness. This smokiness really adds a lot though. Mouthfeel is nice and creamy and this goes well with the smokiness.

Drinkability: The nice mouthfeel makes this enjoyable.

Overall: A respectable example of a stout. (648 characters)

Photo of WesWes
4.23/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep, dark black color with a thick frothy brown head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a rich, malty scent that boasts of black and chocolate malts. It seems sweet; not overly bitter. The taste is good. It has a sweet, chocolatey flavor that goes down smooth and finishes with just a bit of black malt and hop bitterness. This tastes like more like a chocolate stout than a RIS. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is damn fine beer. I'm not sure why it wasn't reviewed better, but I really enjoyed it. (585 characters)

Photo of SerialHiker
4.22/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours the darkest brown to black…a pinky finger of dark mocha head formed and remained…looks a bit watery, the head swirls around faster than normal and thins a little quicker than I woulda liked…(3.5/5)

Smell: Roasted malts, oatmeal, chocolate, coffee, lactose…a very nice aroma, fairly straight forward…with deeper inspection, I get a hint of citrus…not overly pungent or diverse, but nice…(4/5)

Taste: Deep roasted malts, chocolate, oatmeal, very much like the nose…I don’t get as strong of a milk flavor as the nose had, but it does have a creaminess to it…roasted coffee and coffee bitterness stand out and really become the dominant flavors as the beer warms…there’s some sweet candy toffee taste that is very mild, but apparent…I do get a light citrus freshness with each sip after I swallow that rounds everything off…this is a somewhat robust imperial stout and is definitely the best quality of this brew…(4.5/5)

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body, light to medium carbonation…it does fluff up a bit, bringing some chocolate milkshake to the palate, but it’s super thin and wears out quickly…it’s a little watery for what I would expect and that is this brew’s flaw…roasted malt, oatmeal and coffee bitterness in the after taste…(3.5/5)

Overall: This is maybe my favorite Two Brothers beer, I seek it out when I come to Chicago during the winter months and take some home with me to share…the flavor is robust and very tasty, but unfortunately it’s a bit watery and that rushes the mouthfeel away…I do find that after 15 minutes out of the fridge, the coffee aroma and flavor awake, taking the flavor to another level…in the future, I’ll set the bottle aside a few minutes before opening…while all it’s components may not be “world class”, the flavor is outstanding, making this one of my favorite stouts...overall, I couldn’t recommend this brew more, if you see it at the store (or me with one), give it a try…(4.5/5) (2,009 characters)

Photo of Fcolle2
4.22/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours slick black and solid in color with a one finger tan head that has good retention.

Smell is good. rich roasted coffee and cocoa forward. The midsection has a great rich toffee like malt aroma before a moderate alcohol presence finishs.

Taste is great. Rich chocolate flavors forward before a sweet warm toffee flavor dominates the middle of the beer. Finishes with a mild roasted bitterness that is very well balanced. Fair amounts of alcohol also detectable.

Mouthfeel is great. Nice thick body and moderate amount of carbonation keep this a highly drinkable velvety smooth brew (588 characters)

Photo of Lawl3ss
4.21/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Lightly chilled 12 oz. bottle into a 33 cl snifter. Bottle states "Lot 0033", no printed bottling or best-by date, although the label isn't older than 2010.

Look- Pours a deep brown-black with two fingers of dense mocha head that falls quickly to a fingernail ring that persists until the glass is empty. Excellent webbed lacing. From what I can tell, the beer is crystal clear, but it's still opaque in the glass.

Smell- Plain but pleasant, mild nutty-coffee-mocha aroma. Light roast, warm feel. Not particularly complex, but welcoming.

Taste- Similar to the aroma; mild, inoffensive, nicely developed cocoa-nutty-soft roast flavors. Astringency is mild, makes me think of Carafa-III or similar rather than roasted barley or black patent, comes across as cold-press mocha coffee. Light toasted caramel, vanilla-laced maple butter. Finishes with a bit of oatmeal. Not aggressive, but that in itself is refreshing. Soft, full flavored without thrashing my palette, excellent balance.

Mouthfeel- Soft carbonation, medium-full body with a bit of stick. Silky. Very easy drinking for the style.

Overall- Not flashy, but very, very solid. This would easily make my go-to everyday list if it were available in my area. Recommended. (1,231 characters)

Photo of hawks10
4.21/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark and oily as expected, tremendous fluffy dark tan head, looks like dark panacake batter.

Coffee and a slight chocolate smell, found the smell to be the "weakest" part of the beer.

Malty and slightly chocolate taste, really not much hop presence but a slightly bitter, coffee aftertaste.

Overall I really enjoy this beer, I think it is underrated and a great value for a RIS. (387 characters)

Photo of dnjmed
4.21/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured out into a pint glass. maybe should've broken out a tulip for this. served at about 55 F and rising

Looks awesome. Pitch black even held up to the light. 3/4 inch head that is the color of caramel or maybe even cafe au lait

Smells sweet with note of vanilla possibly. Some good roasted character coming through as well.

Taste is a strong malt profile. I pick out chocolate, vanilla, coffee, sweet cherry but not necessarily in that order. First sip I was pleasantly struck by some good piney hops at the end, but I've settled into the stout now and they're less noticeable but there.

Mouthfeel is very creamy and very enjoyable.

A good beer and a good stout but in this style it's got some tough competition. That being said it's a lot easier to get my hands on than other R.I.S.s. It's definitely keeping me warm on this cold December night (866 characters)

Northwind Imperial Stout from Two Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 403 ratings.