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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

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Reviews: 405
Hads: 877
Avg: 3.77
pDev: 11.94%
Wants: 26
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 scott
4.45/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

When I initially had this, it hadn't reached the market yet, and I couldn't wait for it to get there. This a highly recommended offering. A smooth and well-balanced drinker, this maintains a nice coffee/chocolate backbone with nice notes of vanilla & oak. Dark and heady. I can sum this up with one word. Excellent. Pricey, though.

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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 mynie
4.32/5  rDev +14.6%
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.

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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 MuddyFeet
3.46/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an almost black but in reality dark, dark chocolate brown. Thick tan head that dissolved to a thin foamy veneer. Nose was a bit of an oddity-smells like ice water. Wierd...

Flavor is solid RIS. However, not one dominant flavor, just bunches of malts, chocolate and coffee tones. Come candy tones too such as licorice and caramel. Also getting some daker fruits--cherries and old dried apricots. Mouthfeel is perhaps a bit thin and watery but not too off for the style. A very easily drinkable RIS without any off-the-wall flavors or ABV.

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Photo of Blakaeris
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black with a tan creamy head. Little to no lacing.

Aroma is roasted dark grain and a surprising amount of sweet dark fruit. Mild chocolate and coffee notes.

Taste is sweet rich chocolate up front. Then charred dark grain, coffee, and mild dark fruit makes an appearance. The finish is pleasantly bitter, and peppery.

Mouthfeel is smooth and soft. Medium bodied.

Overall a tasty, chocolate stout. However, I did find it to be too mild to have the title 'imperial'.

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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 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 Damian
4.15/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Drank on-tap at Redbones Barbecue, Somerville, MA

Poured a deep, thick brown/black with no head (just a bubbly film of off-white froth) and no lacing.

Aroma was very subtle initially. Notes of roasted malts, coffee, dark chocolate and a general oakiness were mildly detectable. By mid-glass, a distinct (and unexpected) yeastiness was noticeable and by the end of the drink, notes of vanilla, caramel/toffee and a strong bourbon-like quality had emerged.

The taste was similar to the nose yet sweeter and much more intense. All the flavors seemed to hit hard up front. A mix of molasses, dark chocolate, freshly brewed coffee, sweet and lightly roasted malts, bourbon and hops assaulted the palate. While the flavors were quite potent, they all somehow managed to carry equal weight. A sweet, lactic quality was also very noticeable. As the beer moved along the palate, the flavors seemed to gradually fade, until the hops resurfaced again in the finish.

Rich, thick and full-bodied with a creamy, soupy and full mouthfeel.

Overall, this beer is a mild version of a typical Russian imperial stout. The malts were not quite as roasted, the hop profile was weaker, the ABV was significantly lower and the beer generally seemed to be sweeter (at times it tasted like a hybrid of a Russian imperial stout and a sweet stout). While this made for a rather tasty and easy-drinking example of the style, it is understandable why many purists may find this beer disappointing.

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

Purchased at Sam's in Chicago.

Pours an opaque black, brown edges, very thick tan head, great retention, some lace spots. Smell is sweet, coffee, soem chocolate, caramel, cherry, burned aroma, not bad. Taste is smoky, chocolate and coffee roasts, fruits, more roast, burnt caramel cocoa finish. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with low carbonation, a sweet and easy drink, hides alcohol well. Burnt flavour is slightly annoying though.

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Photo of dgfair
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

22 oz. bottle poured into Great Lakes snifter.

A - Pours an opaque oily, jet black color with a very thin head that dissipates almost instantly and leaves no lacing on the glass.

S - Heavy cocoa upfront balanced with a little bit of malty sweetness and light roasted coffee. A little thin in smell, and I would love to have the scents hit a little harder.

T - Sweet, powdered cocoa with a little bit of roasty coffee and roasty malt. A slight taste of alcohol at the swallow, but not overpowering...just enough to let you know it's there. Flavor becomes a little more biscuity as it warms also.

M - Not bad, kinda thin for an impy stout, but the carbonation is perfect. Also, the balance between dry and oily is very, very nice.

D - This is probably the easiest drinking RIS I've had. The thin body and not overly complex taste make this one go down quick and smooth. I certainly like this, but it's almost more like an imperial porter than an imperial stout.

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.63/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into my shaker "pint" glass. Appears a dark brown with two fingers of tan head. Smells of nuts, cocoa, coffee, and roasted malt. Tastes of bittersweet chocolate, mildly roasted coffee, and raisins. Medium in both body and carbonation. Finish is dry and slightly bitter. The alcohol makes it's presence known in a small way. Not bad.

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Photo of bashiba
3.51/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured a very opaque black color with a thick creamy cappucino colored head that left great lacing.

The aroma had decent hints of nuts, chocolate, and a bit of banana.

Taste is full of burnt black malts with a heavy smoky and charred flavor, does have some nice hints of coffee and chocolate, a little more bitter than the average imperial stout.

Mouthfeel is light and creamy with a lot of carbonation.

Not to bad, but a little light for imperial stout.

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Photo of umustdrink
3.85/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber picked up in Wisconsin

A - Completely black in color. Head is a medium brown color, with a froth-like consistency. Lacing is minimal.

S - Deep bready malt aroma with an interesting bitterness.

T - Very different tasting RIS, upfront its a sweet wheatey yeast taste with dark malts and a light bitterness. Finish is a creamy chocolate oilyness.

M - Creamy and on the thicker side. Light oilyness promotes a long lasting taste.

D - This is pretty good, the first sip I was a little turned off but after a few more I began to like this beer more.

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Photo of biegaman
3.85/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to Viggo!
Pours with plenty of bubbly head, looks like chocolate milk minus that it's nearly opaque black in colour. A wild, organic essence (probably from the type of yeast) underlies the aroma along with notes of chocolate malt, a seperate bready yeast, light malt. Distinct cherry in the aroma. Medium bitterness with flavour of cocoa butter most predominant. A neat stove top roast - toasty and smoky - like if you leave something on the burner. The smokyness really suits the flavours well although is a little off-putting in the aftertaste. Doesn't taste a decimal over 6%.

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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 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 sponberg
3.68/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opaque with a brown head, like most RIS. Aroma has something going on in it - almost lactic. like a milk stout, a mineraliness.

Same thing in the flavor - if there's an Imperial Milk Stout category, this could be the flag bearer. Starts out with an underlying coffee-cocoa roastiness, but there's an odd roundness in here that I couldn't figure out until I recalled Keegan's Mother's Milk stout - a similar flavor. Indescribable, not offensive, just not what I was anticpating. Finishes creamy-smooth, no hop character to speak of. Appropriately chewy, could have another to figure it out.

Gracias to BA JeffKrenner for the bottle!

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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 k2pantan
3.35/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

a: poured out looking mostly black. appears dark brownish/red in the light. very little head, light brownish in color, that dissipated fairly quickly

s: smoky, coffee, with chocolate undertones

t: first thing noticed was the coffee and chocolate flavor which then evolved to a more bitter taste. i was expecting more of a lasting taste but it just wasn't there

m: medium body....not too light or heavy. if anything, it didn't have a creamy, more full bodied feel which is a sensation that i enjoy most out of imps.

d: goes down easy without any offense but it's not something that i would buy again.

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Photo of balconybrew
3.85/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip glass. Leaves an expresso colored thin head and a dark liquid.

Smell - Hint of malt, Overwhelming smoked plums and minimal raisins. Sight hops.

Taste - much like the smell. Slightly more hops and roasted malt than smell. Malt becomes gets slightly stronger towards the end. Some fruity sourness. As it warms, the alcohol comes out.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full bodied.

Drinkability - Alcohol warms you a little much for more than one.

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

A deep, dark liquid that produces little head and minimal lacing.

Plums, smoke, sour fruit, and alcohol make for a very unexpected nose. Not what I generally look for in the nose of a Russian Imperial, but it's not an unwelcome change from the average take on this style.

Begins startlingly on the sour side (not like a Flemish sour) for the genre but opens up with nice fruity qualities complimented by the dark bread flavors that follow. There are strange hints of cola/root beer and citrus on the finish (could they have used too many hops?). An unusual and not entirely enjoyable take on the RIS. The alcohol, however, is brilliantly masked (the bottle claims 8.5%, NOT the 7.5% listed by BA).

Some don't care for syrupy beers but I look for a thickness in an RIS that is lacking here. In addition, for mostly having non-existant head this is much more carbonated than I could have guessed. Liked certain aspects of this but I don't know if I'd have another.

OK, why are the scores so high? This beer improves in a massive way as it warms up. Rich, roasted malt tones become more pronounced as does the nuanced sweetness. Drink this just under room temp and I think you'll enjoy it a whole lot.

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Photo of ultralarry2006
3.48/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle. Leaves an espresso foam colored one finger head that quickly recedes into just a foam ring at the edges, and leaves not much lacing. Body is almost black, being the deepest possible brown.

Smell - some unexpected horse blanket, cloves and bananas, - strange coming from an RIS. Hint of the expected roasted malt, but just a hint.

Taste - similiar to the smell. The horse blanket, cloves, and bananas, over malt bread. Also there is a bit, but just a bit, of a tangy hop bite. Some roasted malt becomes more prominent on the finish, but it is mixed with the horse blanket sourness.

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, and fluid.

Drinkability - this is decent, but not great. High abv also holds down sessionability.

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Photo of mmcave
3.18/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Purchased at Sams and cracked at a time when I was. Chilled a little under cellar and then thrown under warm water to expedite the process. Used a tumbler, the color is dark coffee black, with half inch tan nougat color head, with expectable lacing. Smells slight fruit esters which I did not expect in a RIS, but this is not necessarily unwelcome. There is some toffee, coffee, grape-ness. The taste is decent, but I feel like its lacking in several key areas namely strength, body and focus. Where I was expecting these things I got a couple other interesting things like some fruit and maybe some extra chocolate or coffee than usual, but these things to me do not make up the lack of the other stuff. This is not a bad RIS, but after tasting the good stuff "storm king", stuff like this is far less tasty. I for sure will not buy this again, but if it comes to you for free try it and you'll better understand the good stuff.

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Photo of EPseja
3.82/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Ego for scoring a case of this and and sharing it. Served from a 22oz bomber in a Duvel Tulip at just below cellar temperature.

A - Pours syrupy and thick with an almost black color. The head seems to be missing, but gradually forms as the bubbles struggle to find their way through the viscosity -- medium cocoa brown; settling to a thick film atop the beer that eventually disappears altogether. Lacing is nonexistant. A good start, but terrible longevity.

S - Big somewhat creamy semi-sweet chocolate nose with only fleeting hints of sweeter hoppiness. Light notes of sugar plums and molasses. Some (thankfully) sheer notes of soy as it warms... ick.

T - Starts with an interesting heavily toasted, yet sweet coffee maltiness. The middle shows a light tartness from the yeast, and a salt-water taffy character. A very refreshing hoppiness pops in the back of the throat afterward. Aftertaste is surprisingly green and semi-sweet. Alcohol is very well hidden.

M - Chewy barely discribes the thickness of this beer -- it's almost too thick. Too light on carbonation (I never thought I'd hear myself say that), and big on body. Mouth and throat coating as well as slick. Rolls around like hot caramel. Not filling in the belly though, which is very good.

D - After doing a monster RIS tasting, this one falls squarely in the above average category, with not a detriment to be found. Still, there are points where it could be more exciting, but it's nice to have a "go to" RIS when a bomber of most others would put you over the edge of comfortable.

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