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Northwind Imperial Stout - Two Brothers Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Northwind Imperial StoutNorthwind Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

405 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 405
Hads: 877
Avg: 3.77
pDev: 17.77%
Wants: 27
Gots: 67 | 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: 405 | Hads: 877
Photo of mrright1967
1.96/5  rDev -48%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

After spending several minutes perusing the aisles and bypassing many of the staple imperial stouts at my neighborhood liquor store, I decided to give this new arrival a chance. It was my first time trying any beer from Two Brothers.

It looks and pours like an imperial stout and has the alcohol content that one would expect. Unfortunately that is were the similarities to the characteristics one would expect in a quality imperial stout end. There's no need to discuss hints of coffee or chocolate or any subtle blending of flavors associated with stouts. There is one pervasive and overwhelming taste of sour milk that masks any other taste that might be present.

At first, I assumed the 6 pack of bottles I had purchased had spoiled in some way. However in reading other reviews I see that my experience is not unusual. The sour taste has been discussed by other reviewers. One reviewer described it as an overwhelming metallic taste. Whatever it is - it's nasty.

I've always described the experience of drinking beer as being like oral sex - even when its bad, its good. But this beer defies such a contention. Its just bad. Not bad in an interesting or novel way, but bad like ... "Man, is it safe for me to even be drinking this?"

As I said, this was my first experience with Two Brothers. Maybe their other offerings are better, but I'll never know. This will be the only money these 2 brothers will ever see from me.

Avoid at all cost.

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Photo of warmstorage
2.04/5  rDev -45.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

22 ounce bomber.

Appearance: deep black, minimal beige head, moderate lacing.

Aroma and taste: super fruity esters, distinct alcohol, and intense, almost overpowering metallic taste. Sour notes, backgrounded roast, all overwhelmed by the metallic taste.

Thick mouthfeel, but not particularly distinct in other ways.

This was so intensely metallic and sour that we drainpoured it. I feel bad saying so, but this is just not a good offering.

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Photo of MbpBugeye
2.09/5  rDev -44.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This single was included in a huge birthday haul sent by JamnesCameron.

A- Poured into my new DFH signature glass. (I sure hope acronyms are allowed in reviews). Head is very hard to coax out but this is a high performance glass. Its still makes the beer lace a little bit.

S- My first whiff left me reeling. Pure molasses. Very intensely unusual. Anise is also very strong. This blend of old man candy is off putting. There is also plenty of cough syrup.

T- Acidic coffee with a cough syrup and tart cherry strangeness. There is a distinct dip spit flavor. Why is there a sourness? Beats me, but it seems to check out in many other reviews, including BuckeyeNation's from 05 so I hardly think this is another one to add to 2010: the year of infection.

M- Too much carbonation. It hurts the teeth and numbs the tongue.

I cant say this beer is good, but there is worse. I mean the fact that its a B rated RIS says it all.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
2.28/5  rDev -39.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured black with good carbonation and a brown head. Nose is roasted malt, cocoa, coffee and a lingering sour funk...uh oh. Taste is immediate funkyness, sourness, roasted malt, cocoa, coffee but that damn sourness was terrible. Mouthfeel is warming, sour like it was either infected or had a buttload of rotten green apples dumped into the mash. Drinkability, no way. Avoid and this was among the worst RIS I have ever had and I have had my share.

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Photo of jjayjaye
2.47/5  rDev -34.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Pours dark opaque black with a full finger dark tan head that fades fairly quickly.

The smell of roasted malt is overwhelming in that the "roasted" smell is borderline burnt. It's sharp and biting to me.

The intense roasted malt flavor adds to a somewhat heavier mouthfeel and gives it a chewy sensation. Hops are present and complemented with a balanced carbonation.

This is a very difficult one to swallow for me. The most difficult characteristic is the nose; i can hardly stand to get my face near enough to take a mouthful. There is a significant harsh acidic after taste that puts it to bed for me.

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Photo of maximum12
2.48/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Picked up a single recently. I'd have picked up more, the price is definitely right for an RIS, but I've had a pair of Two Brothers beers & not enjoyed either one. Hold my breath & dive.

It's black. Shocking. Smell isn't great, more like a milk stout. Taste isn't great either. It's very thin even for a regular stout, & there's not much taste to it at all. A bit of malt, maybe a hop sprig, eye of newt, balls of bull.

This isn't very good. Two Brothers has disappointed me three time in a row. I hate to give up on a brewery, but I'm close.

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Photo of TastyTaste
2.53/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Dark brown, but still allows light to penetrate the beer. Head dafers quickly to nothing.

Smell: None too strong smelling, light cocoa and old coffee, kind of sour.

Taste: Fairly weak and unimpressive for an Imp. Stout. Coffee is obvious, but none too dominant, alcohol does not help to enhance it much, either. Bitterness is none to strong.

Mouthfeel: Watery and lightly carbonated, unimpressive.

Drinkability: Skip it, this may be one of the weakest and the lowest ABV Imperial Stouts I have run across.

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Photo of blitz134
2.57/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Basically pitch black, miniscule amounts of light comes through in the crevases of the glass. Half inch of tan head floats along on top. Isn't sticky though so teh class is left clean as it is drank down.

Really has a simple malt flavor that is amazingly nondescript. Not really much else to it, no toasted notes.

This has a bit more flavor though but honestly no where close to what an RIS should be. Slight toasted flavor gives way to a touch of coffee. Still, not much to this one. I hate to give a below average rating...it isn't bad necessarily, but nothing draws me to this.

Medium mouthfeel which isn't that bad. A little lingering flavor. This one isn't that hard to drink, nothing to be offended by. But no flavor in this really. Nothing I want to revisit.

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Photo of dgugliuzza
2.65/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter

Black pour with a dark tan head. Two fingers thick head quickly fades into a thin film. Appears thin and watery for the style.

Smells of light roasted malt with a hint of semi-sweet chocolate. It's tough to really get deep into the aroma. You really have to dig your nose into the glass to pick up whatever roastiness and bitterness there is.

Taste is much like the smell. Lightly roasted malts and semi-sweet bakers chocolate. The flavors are subdued and uninspiring, especially for a RIS. There's just not enough boldness in here.

Thin and borderline watery mouthfeel. Much too thin for the style. Low carbonation and absolutely no viscosity. I suppose that one positive it that it's easy to drink for a 9.1 abv.

Meh, an average at best RIS. It lacks oomph and boldness. The roasty and chocolaty flavors needed to be ratcheted up many notches. The mouthfeel was also a major letdown. Too thin and watery for the style. Overall, not wholly terrible, but not an RIS worth seeking out.

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Photo of jcalabre
2.7/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

I originally sampled this beer on 19 April 2003. I am writing this review from my notes:
Appearance: It has the usual Imperial Stout characteristics: black with a tan head,
Aroma: It's chocolately on the nose,
Mouthfeel: Unfortunately it has a very light mouthfeel & is a bit thin by this style's standards. Somewhat roasty, but not what I'd expect fm an imperial

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Photo of dlello2
2.7/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A - Cloudy black. Lots of brown head with big bubbles.

S - Chocolate is first. Definitely roasty. Surprised to not really get any hops here. Some wood and smoke.

T - Follows the nose quite closely. Less chocolate and more burnt toast. Roasty qualities fail to wow. Actually find it lacking in flavor which is interesting considering the 9% abv. Not the best.

M - Thinner body than I'd have liked. Lacking in carbonation and slick.

O - Not impressed by this one. Following it with a hop juice black... hopefully that will treat me right!

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
2.71/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Sampled this at an epic tasting hosted by EinWeizenbitte. Thanks a ton Todd!

Appearance: Brown, foamy head dissipates fairly quickly to a creamy crown. Decent retention after that. Body is dark brown with amber shades around the edges. A bit too much visibility? Head leaves notch-like rings of lacing along the walls of the glass.

Smell: Roasted malt, fruity esters, and a strong dosage of sour fruitiness resembling citrus and berries. Not particularly bad, but not what I would normally look for nor want in this style.

Taste: Roasted malt and dark chocolate make a brief initial appearance, then step aside as an avalanche of raspberry and lemon rolls through onto the palate. Tons of sourness in the finish. This just seems wrong.

Mouthfeel: Sugary, syrupy, and lambic-like. Medium carbonation and body. Finishes dry and sour.

Drinkability: As a big RIS fan, I was not a fan of this big RIS. Fruit accents are nice, but this went over the top. Finish didn't resemble an imperial stout in the least bit. This wasn't terrible, but it definitely wasn't for me.

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Photo of beachbum1975
2.74/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Batch 3178

Poured into my over-sized Duvel tulip a dark, opaque rootbeer color with a medium to dark tan head. Minimal, spotty lacing...

This nose is light on this one. Hints of sweet malts, vanilla and an unusual banana-like essence. Not too impressed by the nose...

Ok, the strange banana smell that had me worried faded as I drank. This is a medium to full bodied beer with medium to full flavor. Medium to high carbonation on the mouthfeel, as well. Flavors include heavily roasted coffee, a touch of dark chocolate and sweet malts all bundled up in a sweet, vanilla bean package. Mouthfeel is wet (almost watery) in the beginning, then the hops kick in just a bit go lend to a semi-dry finish. Aftertaste carries the same slightly bitter hops...

Overall, this is a decent example of a Russian Imperial Stout, but not big enough for me. It's reminiscent of an English version RIS and I prefer the extreme American RIS'es...

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Photo of colts9016
2.75/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Got this beer from mday, thank you.

Poured into a pint glass at 51 degrees.

Appearance: A very dark dark brown color. There is a quarter inch tan head that is creamy. The clarity of the beer is opaque.

Nose: A roasted malt complex with coffee, vanilla, chocolate, and molasses. There is a hint of hops hard to discern what is dominate in my nose.

Taste: A roasted malt complex with coffee, vanilla, and chocolate. There is a slight burnt complex,hops is not really valid in this beer.

Overall: The mouth feel is creamy and flat. The body of the beer is medium full and the finish is flimsy. This is a rather poor RIS, There is no hops a little flavor and not much else. Rather disappointed, I was hoping for more.

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Photo of zebulon
2.78/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I poured this in two pours from a 22 oz bomber. Temperature was from my basement at about 55 to 60 deg.

Dark brown/black color formed light brown head on first pour to about 1/2" second pour I was carefull and got 1" head. Head went down fact to thin film. Head looked creamy but I tasted light.

Chocolate aroma with a slight metallic edge.

Taste was chocolate with slight coffee, but had that metallic taste that I objected to. There was also a light fizzy taste at first. Later the fizziness was gone slight sour come out and a taste of dried fig and toffee.

Mouth feel started creamy and declined to light.

OK drink but somewhat disappointing. Kind of a stout light.
We could debate whether this is an a imperial or a chocolate, but really who cares if it is good. This just didn't make the grade. It is almost as if it was brewed for complexity and ended up with slight off flavor and not enough body. At $5.95 a bottle not worth it

Would have given this a 2.6 or 2.7 in some catagories but that is not allowed.

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Photo of Florida9
2.81/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Drank this at 2Brothers TapHouse

A: Served in a small snifter. Black in color. Fully opaque. About a 1/8th inch of creamy tan head that quickly receded to the rim of the glass.

S: Stale coffee, cocoa, and an odd sort of creamy lactic scent. Heavily roasted, almost burnt, malts.

T: Again coffee, but more like cheap ass chicory coffee and not the good stuff. Cocoa and chocolate. Roasted malts and a raw, biting woodsiness, blending, unpleasantly, with a noticeable fruity sourness. Typically I enjoy coffee and chocolate flavors, but this beer seems to be highlighting coffee and chocolate's negative aspects.

M: Medium in body. Low carbonation. Thin for a RIS.

D: I don't know what is going on with this beer. It really misses the mark and is quite disappointing. Thin, burnt, and sour, but (thankfully) with not much of a residual aftertaste, I simply couldn't enjoy this beer. Eventually I bellied up and ordered a Cane & Ebel to help me get this one down.

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Photo of nickd717
2.83/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Bottle shared at the after-Bruery tasting. Meh, this one didn't really do it for me. Not bad, but one of the poorer examples of what is probably my favorite style (note that I consider "Russian Imperial Stout" and "American Double/Imperial Stout" to be the same style until I hear a convincing reason not to). One of the guys from the local group who is known for his contrarian ratings asked, "Have you ever given an imperial stout a below average rating?" and I said, "Probably not, because I usually only drink above average imperial stouts." Well, here is a below average one, and it's getting a below average rating from me.

Pours black with a one-finger tan head and some good lacing.

Aroma is roast, coffee, dark fruit, and some earthy tartness. Flavor is earthy, dirty, and oddly tart, yet not to the point where I'd think it was infected. Roast and coffee along with some DMS-like notes, cooked corn, that I don't typically find too appealing in this style.

A tad thin for the style with some astringency on the palate.

Drinkability is average at best. I am not a big fan at all. This is my second beer from these guys, and I'm not sure I want to try many more. I'd still like to note though that this wasn't a total disaster, and there is definitely the potential for this style to get much worse, which is why I didn't give it a D or F. I just tend to avoid those bad examples.

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Photo of Auracom
2.85/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2-3 oz. from the 12 oz. bottle on March 24th, 2011 in my mini snifter - one of 10 beers in my stout tasting; from notes.

A - Decent head on this one, very opaque black coloring. Barely any retention, quick dissipation down to a few bubbles on the sides. Some visible alcohol feet.

S - Citrusy and funky at the same time with sweet malts. A pine quality underneath... in support of the citrus I guess. Maybe some roasted notes.

T - Ugh. Bland. Severely-mellowed chocolate and caramel. Despite the citrus character in the aroma, there's virtually no citrus, floral, or pine to be found on the tongue with the exception of orange peel (but it's barely there). Slightly bitter on backend.

M - Similar to Bell's Expedition, more carbonation than expected.

D - Bleh. The taste is so incredibly subdued... it's really the opposite of what I hope for in an imperial stout. I expect huge notes in both the aroma and taste and Northwind barely fulfills the former and fails miserably at the latter. What's the purpose or point of this beer? Two Brothers advertises the unique hop addition to it but it doesn't work.

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Photo of Jekster
2.85/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Appearance: Pours a deep dark rich brown color with a dark mocha head that dissipates to little or no lacing.

Smell: This beer smells of toasted caramel, dark robust coffee and cream. There is a slight woody character as well like fresh cut oak or a sawed fire wood. There is a slight bready sweetness in the background as well as a dark roasted grain.

Taste: Roasted sweetness carries the foremost flavor in this beer. There is some lite caramel and malt sweetness, but it does not hold a candle light to the almost overpowering roast character. There is a slight acid bitterness in the end as well as minor alcohol notes.

Mouthfeel: This beer is surprisingly thin for an imperial stout. There is a slight slickness and creamy component, but not as thick as you would expect for the style.

Drinkability: This beer is a sipper but not in the traditional sense of an imperial stout. It's more of a sipper because of the strong roast character and slight alcohol hit towards the swallow. I would not drink more than two of these in any sitting.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: This beer did not live up to my expectations. It had a nice aroma, but the flavor is amazingly one dimensional. The roast character dominates and leaves little else to be detected. Moreover, there is a complete lack of the thick chewy coating body that I expect from a high gravity sippable beer. Instead, this beer is quite thin and even dry after the swallow. I think this is very uncharacteristic of the style and not what I really want to sip on a cold winter night. For the price, it's not bad yet I would suggest spending a couple more dollars and picking up one of the better RIS's out there.

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Photo of Baron_of_Suds
2.86/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Surprising amount of carbonation for RIS. Head dissipates to small, almond ring which lingers throughout consumption.

S: Dull and oddly reminiscent of a Belgian Strong Dark, but with burnt hops

T: Nutty roasted malt, dark chocolate as it warms, alcohol

M: Thin body. Carbonation.

O: Decent beer, but not a great representation of the style. Typical RIS characteristics are somewhat lacking.

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Photo of brewcrew76
2.86/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours a deep black with 2 fingers of brown head.

S - Roasted malt, coffee and dark chocolate. This smell is slightly overpowered by a lactic vegetal sourness.

T - The vegetal sourness in the aroma is the dominating flavor. Hints of roasted malt and dark chocolate but it is tough to get past the vegetal taste.

M - A little thin for an Impy Stout.

D - Not a very good beer. It is really tough to get past the vegetal taste.

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Photo of klewis
2.86/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Lot 36, listed at 8.5% ABV

A: Pours black with a tiny bubbly head. Very little lacing.

S: A nice malty aroma of mocha and cocoa.

T: Tastes like cocoa powder with a vegetal, celery-like finish. The flavor is thin for an impy stout and for a "big beer".

M: Medium-thin bodied and a bit fizzy, especially for the style. A bit chalky.

D: Thin, watery, and just plain off for the style. Pass.

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Photo of negroobserver
2.9/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

North-Wind Imperial Stout
45 IBU, 9.1% ABV
12 oz Bottle

Poured into a large Brandy snifter.

A: Pours a dark brown, almost black color. Very small cream colored head, which dissipates quickly and leaves behind a thin foamy rim on the edge of the glass.

S: Smells smoky. Has a very mild malty and chocolatey aroma at the back end. A very faint sweet licorice or vanilla like aroma. No dominant scents here, but I like that the vanilla aroma is almost hidden. This is my third bottle and this is the first time I've noticed it. Interesting, but disappointing that the last few weren't at the same level as this bottle.

T: Mostly flat and tasteless. Dark roasted malts. There is a smoky chalky taste which lingers in the mouth. Slight sour and hoppy quality.

M: The beer has some depth, but not the kind of rich texture that you would expect from an Imperial class beer. It doesn't coat the glass or the mouth in the way that an Imperial Stout should. At best, it has the depth and texture of a standard stout. At 9.1% ABV, I can't smell or taste the alcohol in the beer, which makes me question the validity of the company's claims regarding the ABV content. Or it could be that this is one of the better crafted beers on the market in that respect. Who knows?

Overall, I had great hopes for this beer and was hoping that this was a rare exception to the pricy Imperial Stouts that one finds on the market. Sadly, I feel like I was duped by the company into buying an inferior product which appears to be very misleading in its claims.


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Photo of BeerBelcher
2.93/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

The imperial stout category is something of a category of giants. Looking at the other beers of this style I've reviewed, they've been largely excellent. Dark Lord, Old Rasputin, Great Divide Yeti, Brooklyn Black Chocolate, Great Lakes Blackout, and Alesmith Speedway Stout are all fantastic beers full of lots of dry roastiness and full mouthfeels. And this one fell short, at least compared to those others. While I'm a big fan of Two Bros beers, I thought this one was disappointing and not very drinkable. Flavor was not very roasty and mouthfeel was a bit watery. And maybe it was when I had it in my evening, but this beer made me feel exceptionally full which led me not to finish it. Unfortunately, the next day I'm unable to articulate what exactly it was I objected to.

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Photo of Jettanbass9
2.94/5  rDev -22%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - nearly jet black but still is permiable by light. Light tan head barely holds on to the glass.

S - Anise, licorice, dark caramel and dark fruits. Strong pale malt aromas. Whats lacking? oh yea, roast.... I can't help but to ding a few points for not getting as much roast in a beer like this. Major flaw.

T - Tons of anise and licorice, dark fruit and some roast poking through. No hop flavor. Very clean fermentation, no yeast character.

M - Full mouthfeel and light carbonation, slick on the tounge. Good mineral balance.

D - The beer goes back easy but misses the mark on the style's coined boldness. A sipper, definitely, however needs some help in the roast area of flavor and aroma. Two Brothers, please revamp this beer.

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Northwind Imperial Stout from Two Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 405 ratings.