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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
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 403
Hads: 867
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: 12%
Wants: 25
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: 867
Photo of jzeilinger
3.59/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours pitch black in my tulip glass with a sporadic toffee colored layer of creamy textured head.

S - Dark chocolate, char, light smokiness, and cocoa cream.

T - Smoky, dark roasted chocolate, char, very light alcohol effervescence, woody, lightly smoky.

M - Thin medium body to heavy light body (somewhere in the middle).

O - ABV is well hidden, nice char, but too thin. (379 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 MaximalC
3.83/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours seal brown with a healthy khaki head of heterogeneous bubbles that slowly settles into a veil of frogspawn. The aroma smells of roasted dark chocolate and little else.

The flavor features warming alcohol and herbal hops up front atop a mild roasted malt and molasses base. I'm thinking some serious warming is in order to tease out the full glory here. Indeed, some dark fruit and chocolate begin to emerge with the aforementioned warming, though the bite of the hops is still quite present. The body is heavy and the mouthfeel is thick and luscious, like an imperial stout ought to be.

Overall, this is a no-frills imperial stout with solid flavor and a great consistency. One of my preferred brews from Two Brothers. (726 characters)

Photo of FLima
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

As deep black as it can be with a thick caramel head with medium retention and leaving lots of laces.
Light and predominant aroma of dark and creamy chocolate.
Flavor of sweet mocha, pine, caramels, roasted, nutty and smoky malts, licorice, earthy and citrus hops, and a bit of dark fruits. Dry aftertaste with a log lasting roasty bitterness.
A super creamy feeling. Full body with low carbonation. Alcohol of 9.1% abv is very well hidden.
Very good Imperial Stout, no defects, though not overly complex but still pleasant. Good bridge for the style. (551 characters)

Photo of Cylinsier
3.98/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz.

Pours pitch black, rim of a light tan lacing for a head.

Smells of brown sugar and roasted coffee, maybe a hint of milk chocolate.

Flavor is of light cocoa with a roasted coffee and buttered toast undertone.

Full body with a viscous feel, light sting of carbonation throughout.

Tasty and drinkable stout, goes down really smooth and hides its strength well. Pretty enjoyable and looking forward to more. (419 characters)

Photo of ravot
3.9/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

First review, bear with me.

Thanks to my buddy who left me in charge of drinking his beer since he had to move to the west coast.

Serving type:
Northwind Imperial Stout poured into a Surly Darkness Tulip from a bomber.
Bottle vintage is 2006.

Appearance:
The pour is a very dark brown yet you can still see through it with minimal light. Little lace that quickly disappears except for a tiny ring around the perimeter. Carbonation was fine considering the vintage. Once poured, this thing looks like motor oil. Jet black.

Smell:
At first pour, I smelled smoke, I was a bit disappointed this would be a smoky beer. Maybe it needed to breathe but the smokiness disappeared. Some coconut in the air, a little bit of chocolate fudge, hints of vanilla.

Taste:
You can definitely taste the hops in this imperial stout. Considering it's over 7 years old. Bitterness isn't quite there of course but boy I was surprised. I can still taste the coconut and more of the chocolate. Vanilla flavors are non existent. A little bit of that burnt/smokiness but not heavy at all. I'm 'sensitive' to the burnt/smokiness and i'm not a fan of it overall but this is dandy.

Mouthfeel:
This is a thin beer. Probably as designed and not a bad thing. I mentioned carbonation early and it's definitely there. In typing this quick review, I burped out a few times already. Carbonation/fizzyness tickles the tongue. A little dryness after a drink and can taste the hops' slight bitterness.

Overall:
I must say, this is a fun beer. Definitely one you can age. As a disclaimer, I never had Northwind fresh but this overall feels like a fresh beer I just opened. I'm curious on buying one fresh to compare. This beer had no signs of oxidation and could probably hang out in the cellar a few more years. I have one more bottle of 06 vintage so I might just do that.
edit: currently the ABV for this is 9.10% but the bottle label is 8.5% (1,914 characters)

Photo of BradC
3.54/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On draft, pours a jet black with a finger of head that thins but lasts.

Not much aroma here at all, maybe a little bit of roasted grain but not much else.

Tastes of roasted grain, chocolate and toffee followed by a hop bitterness that lingers

Moderately carbonated, not as chewy as I usually like my RIS,but only 9%abv.

Overall, not as flavorful as I usually like these beers but easy drinking and not too strong. (417 characters)

Photo of craftbeerbyob
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Jet black with a frothy white head. Slightest head maintained throughout my pour.

Smell: Roasted, smoke, chocolate, coffee nose. But subtle!

Taste: Smoke, roasted forward taste with a creamy chocolate/coffee finish. Fantastic!

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy. Not a meal but not a an easy drink. It is meant to be enjoyed over time. (345 characters)

Photo of foglemgs
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured quite darkly from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. The stout has a nice opacity to it and a brown head was briefly present. What remains of the head does leave a nice lacing on the glass.

S: I'm left a tiny bit wanting here, though it is nice that the high (9.1% ABV) doesn't overpower. There are roasted malt and coffee overtones, but I get nothing underneath. Not much subtlety to this brew.

T: Pretty damn decent, overall. The taste matches the smell (malt and coffee) and the alcohol lingers pleasantly on the tongue. I want to taste the alcohol in a Russian Imperial Stout, and this fits the bill.

M: Again, largely pleasant. This is not a heavy stout by my standards, but it has a nice dryness on the finish.

O: Two Brothers Brewing has done very well with North-Wind. The Imperial Stout is probably my favorite kind of beer, and this ranks right up there with the best, though the flavors aren't quite as BOOM as I would like. (948 characters)

Photo of Jimmys
3.61/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle into a tulip. lot 3293.

A: pours a very dark brown. head is slightly off white and tightly bubbled. good retention and a decent lace.

S: chocolate and roast. coffee is there but minimal. mostly chocolate. soft and full of sugar.

T: even more chocolate and roast. bittersweet finish. lactose flavor in there too. the flavors of a stout are there, but the body is not, which is mostly pointed out to me by the lack of complexity in these described flavors.

M: moderate carb on a medium body.

D: good flavor on a light body for a RIS. if you are looking for a well made balanced stout, this is a great example. but really nothing to go out of your way for. (675 characters)

Photo of Slatetank
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I picked this up at brass rail deli, enjoyed chilled from a tulip out of a longneck 12 oz brown.

The color is dark almost black with 2 + fingers of medium beige with fluffy almost rocky looking head. The bead is fine and lace sticks well. The smell is very nice, lots of cocoa type aroma with moderately sweet malt and slight vanilla-like floral aspect with low alcohol odors and mild woody hop ester. The feel is decent with moderately full body with medium bitterness and slight alcohol warmth with a gentle toasted texture and medium sweet feel with slight spice in the relatively dry finish.

The taste is has a dark and milk chocolate flavor with light caramel and mild woody hops with toasted grain and subtle creamy yeast which adds to the sweet malt body w/ a mild molasses type richness. Overall this may not be the most complex stout but still not really flawed and pretty darn drinkable because you barely taste any alcohol + the malt is sweet without being cloying. I could drink a couple of these easily. (1,020 characters)

Photo of BeerandWhiskeyHQ
3.61/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Very Dark brown, almost black no light coming through it, mocha colored head and slight lacing

S: smells of cocoa, coffee beans, sugary sweet and dark roasted malt

T: thin- bodied for a stout, the dark roasted malt really comes through powerfully, strong flavored for sure. A slight citrus is hiding somewhere around in there and the finish is bitter, yet the roasted flavor stays along with it on the palate which makes for an interesting drink.

O: I like this beer, I don’t drink imperial stouts all of the time so this one is a nice change. It doesn’t sit too heavy either which I appreciate and the bitterness is nice too, if I had a suggestion though, it would be that the bitterness be dialed back a little bit so it doesn’t distract from the dark roast of the malt that is so dominating at the beginning, I think it could be better balanced and even though I didnt mind it being a little "thinner" it really ought to be a heavier beer but at the same time I like it and always recommend two brothers beers.

-BeerandWhiskeyHQ (1,056 characters)

Photo of rmp5262
2.98/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Recently I have been drinking Speedway stout, Ten-Fidy, and Bell's Expedition Stouts so I have acquired a taste for the more thick stouts.

Appearance: Black, more translucent than other russian imperial stouts. Aggressively poured with a brown head of one finger that dissipated quickly. Carbonation bubbles could be seen on the glass.

Smell: Dull smell that closely resembles a dark ale or porter.

Taste: Tastes like a porter, smooth with hints of chocolate and malt. Hides the alcohol well

Mouthfeel: Very thin, almost watery. Too much carbonation for a stout

Overall: Okay beer, I wouldn't get this again.

Serving type: Poured from bottle into a stout glass (668 characters)

Photo of Qbdoo
3.71/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - black as night.
Smell - not very distinct.
Taste - hints of chocolate, dark fruit, with a slightly smoky tinge.
Mouthfeel - somewhat light but very smooth. Although doesn't pour in a highly carbonated way, there slightly bubbly feel to it.
Overall - not superb but a really good introduction to the style. I had this after going through a succession of Russian Imperial Stouts that I wanted to love but felt were too boozy. They should probably be cellared. This you can drink and enjoy now. (505 characters)

Photo of Suds
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a very dark, perfectly black beer. The head is a deep tan color, leaving a lot of lace, but not very thick. The smell is layered and intense....smoke and alcohol...roasted grain, charcoal, wood, booze, and malt. The taste is not as complex as the smell, but is sweet, warming, and has an abrupt bitteness that comes in the mid-taste. Full and satisfying mouthfeel. Good. (378 characters)

Photo of Baron_of_Suds
2.86/5  rDev -23.7%
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. (398 characters)

Photo of sully11277
4.41/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into snifter glass.

A- Black with a light brown head. that fades a little but sticks around on surface of the beer.

S- it smells like cocoa, coffee, and dark roast

T- It is so smooth and the cocoa and roast flavors come through. You can hardly tell this beer is 9.1% ABV. You do not get much of an alcohol burn or anything.

M- Did I mention this beer is smooth. It is just a enjoy of all the notes that hit your tongue but nothing to overpower it.

O- This is a great beer, I poured it and before I knew it my glass was empty and I was wishing I bought a 6 pack of this beer. You could not drink it all day but it would be great for one of those snowed in nights. (691 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 Willytee3
3.94/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark chocolate black with a touch of red highlight. A thin mocca color head emerges and builds slowly after the pour. Nice thick ring forms with bubbly island film and spotty lace.
Smells of coco chocolate malts with a touch of dry oak and cheese.
Tastes of rich roasted malts with a barley a touch of stovepipe and good malted sweetness. Balanced by a nice hop bitter and hint of anise. A bit of lemon rind and espresso with a bitter chocolate finish.
Nice full body with good palate coating flavors, a bit thin on carbonation.
Overall a tad sweet and chocolaty balanced by a nice hop bitter but is still a tad sweet for me.
A very nice imperial with almost no alcohol showing. (691 characters)

Photo of smakawhat
4.15/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass.

A real nice pour out of the bottle, dark walnut brown, hitting the glass with a creamy character and a dark walnut black body. Head is creamy tan chocolate and foams up quite nicely with a solid two fingers. Very slowly settles to a simple thin puck and collar. Very nice.

Good solid Russian nose for the bouquet. Mild sense of dark bitter chocolate, light warm roast tones, good ripping grain sense and maybe a little bit of berried fruit also. Real nice, I am liking where this is going.

Palate is light but with a good creamy coating play. Wonderful sweet malts and dark roast character. Bitter dark chocolate abounds, with a real nice moderate controlled sweetness on the finish. The body is ideal and probably the best part of the beer, light but with lots of coating the flavors all around, and a tiny little bit of fizz on the tip of the tongue for playful character.

Overall a real solid Russian Imperial worth having and seeking out again, really did enjoy this one. (1,024 characters)

Photo of micromaniac129
4.04/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours deeply brown with ruby highlights. A vigorous pour produces only a minimal head, dense yes, but small. Very little lacing about the glass. The appearance is the weak link for this beer.
Aroma finds this beer with strong roasted malts, anise, coffee and cream.
The taste has a lot of roasted malt depth and just borders on being charred. I get some bright fruity hops too which wasn't suggested in the nose. I taste a hint of anise rolled in coffee beans.
Drinks smooth and sweet and coats the tongue. As sweet as it is there is some bitterness towards the end.
A very good RIS, not quite up to the big boys but good indeed. (629 characters)

Photo of mfnmbvp
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, with no apparent bottled on date present aside from Lot 3422. I'm guessing this bottle has gotten a little bit of age to it by now, though. It's been quite a while since my last bottle of this stuff, so I am excited to try it out again.

Poured into a Firestone Walker pint glass.

A - Pours two fingers of beautiful mocha colored head, which recedes fairly quick. Body is an opaque black. Nice thick lacing.

S - Smell is of beautiful roasted coffee bean, dark chocolate / cocoa, and toasted barley malts. The malted barley lends somewhat of a nutty smell to the mix also. Smells very creamy & full-bodied. Wonderful.

T - Taste follows the nose; creamy chocolate, roasted coffee bean goodness, hop bitterness, dark powdery cocoa, perhaps even a bit of vanilla.

M - Feel is bitter with the hops & coffee bean roast, but is sleek & creamy at the same time.

Overall, an excellent sipping beer. Rich, dark, creamy, & full-bodied, this would be a great beer to warm you up on a cold winter night. Definitely a beer all stout lovers should look into.

Two Brothers North-Wind Imperial Stout ---4/5. (1,111 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 mvanaskie13
4.12/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a pint glass, color is dark brown, head is brown, presenting nicely 1/2" thick, with some lacing.

Smell is subdued, but notes of biscuit malt, chocolate, roasted malt come through.

Taste is very pleasant, nice creaminess, flavors are chocolate and roast blend up front, coffee notes, hints of biscuit and toffee, other notes include fig/raisin type fruitiness.

Mouthfeel is very nicely done, hard to believe this is 9%, very drinkable pleasant creaminess and presence, nice lingering flavors.

Overall, a very solid, very drinkable RIS from two brothers - none of their variety pack has disappointed. (615 characters)

Photo of themind
3.49/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Two brothers makes a decent stout. I enjoyed this brew and would not turn it down if offered. There are so many great stouts out there that I am always looking for the next big thing...unless it's KBS or BCBS. That said I would say any stout lover needs to give this a go.

Bottom Line: Decent stout worth a look. (313 characters)

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