1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Northwind Imperial Stout - Two Brothers Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Northwind Imperial StoutNorthwind Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

769 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 769
Reviews: 386
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 12.14%
Wants: 20
Gots: 40 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-14-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 769 | Reviews: 386 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of dbrauneis
3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours midnight black with a two finger tall foamy tan head. Lots of visible sediment that is also tan in color. Head reduces slightly but very good head retention overall. Significant lacing is observed.

S: Not as intense a smell present as I would have liked for this style. Hints of chocolate, oak, roasted dark malts, coffee, and vanilla.

T: Primarily dark bittersweet chocolate with hints of dark druit (plum + fig), oak, and some coffee bitterness. Not overly bitter and there is an underlying sweetness from the dark roasted malts.

M: Medium bodied with a low to moderate amount of carbonation. Smooth.

O: Alcohol is very well hidden in this beer - both in the taste and the smell. Very enjoyable and a very well balanced beer. Some complexity in the flavors. Good beer for a cold winter day.

dbrauneis, Feb 19, 2012
Photo of vic21234
3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Bottle is labeled "Lot 3071."

A- Pours black with a nice tan head. Lots of yeast particles appear to be in this one, theres a large heap of it at the bottom of my glass.

S- Lots of roasty malt and coffee. Roastiness is the most apparent smell here.

T- The roasty malts are big in this one, and also a surprising bit of a hoppy finish. I'm also getting hints of coffee and chocolate.

M- Heavy, with a nice lingering malt finish. This beer does not drink like a 9%ABV, not much alcohol presence.

I'm partial to Two Brothers since its my local brewery. This was one of the first Imperial Stouts I've had, and I always enjoy it. I do admit however that there are plenty of better examples of the style out there.

vic21234, Jan 24, 2012
Photo of stewart124
3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pitch black with a fairly dense head after a strong pour. This fizzled away within a minute.

Strong coffee aroma with hints of chocolate in the nose and some earthy bits.

Medium bodied with a nice dose of noble bittering. This is accompanied by an acrid bitterness from the roasted malts. Bits of chocolate in the taste but this doesn't come off as a terribly complex imperial stout.

Very taste and smooth, this russian imperial stout is a treat and easy to drink. Nothing really stands out but there is nothing wrong with this beer. Plain and simple, it's an easy drinking russian imperial stout.

stewart124, Feb 08, 2010
Photo of Vdubb86
3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter

On-Tap at The Firkin Two Brother's Tap Takeover

This beer pours a pretty darkness with a finger of brown foam. The smell is a bit of oak, belgian-like aroma, brown sugar and a light roasted note. Most of the nose is really light. The taste has an odd hop bitterness that I didn't expect. There is a light bourbon flavor and a decent amount of cocoa. It must be said that this beer is a bit astringent on the palate and a bit thinner than I would have liked, but it is still rather drinkable. A good beer all around.

Vdubb86, Nov 19, 2010
Photo of Natural510
3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle w/batch number.

Pours a deep, dark brown with creamy, light-brown foam which leaves a solid ring of lace. Very inviting.
The nose is mostly chocolate but overall fairly unremarkable.
Flavor is a roasted, malty mix of dark chocolate, hazelnut and coffee bean. Hop kicks in Sweet, bitter and dry in the finish.
Body is not quite as thick as some of the style, but complements the flavor well and adds a bit to the overall drinkability.
With its thinner body and lack of harsh elements which would require blending with age, this is a good choice to purchase and drink right away.

Natural510, Jan 10, 2011
Photo of Rayek
3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Two Brothers tulip.

A: Molasses black with frenetic initial carbonation from small bubbles. A huge and rocky tan head slowly retreats to a thin film. Leaves patches of lace.

S: Heavy on the molasses, raisins and currants. There's a very faint burnt oak aroma in the background. A strong dose of tingling alcohol rounds things out.

T: On the sweet side for this style, which made me kind of happy. Lots of molasses, toffee, raisin and prune up front. A mild burnt and slightly lemony bitterness keeps the sweetness in check. Alcohol adds a pleasant warmth to the tart and sweet finish.

M: The thick and syrupy body could stand having the carbonation turned down a notch. Letting the beer breath for a bit helped calm things.

D: Really more of an Imperial Porter than an RIS when compared to most US examples of this style. I quite liked it. Perfect for a cool evening. The strength makes it a good candidate for a nightcap.

Rayek, Oct 02, 2009
Photo of schoolboy
3.92/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

schoolboy, Feb 22, 2013
Photo of Kraty1
3.92/5  rDev +3.4%

Kraty1, Sep 06, 2014
Photo of ravot
3.91/5  rDev +3.2%
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%

ravot, Feb 11, 2014
Photo of GeoffRizzo
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Ya never know what to expect from the “Two Brothers”; a murky black, with a thin yet dissolving tan head. Anise, black licorise and coffee beans on the nose. Somewhat thin, yet creamy up front; a massive espresso twang to it. Sweet tasting; dark chocolate noticeable; some caramel and warming coffee notes. Expecting more of a belly warming effect for the style; yet, this doe not disappoint; sticky molasses left on the palate. This should be rated top in the “Not to the style listed on the label, but still pretty good” category; a decent “stout”.

GeoffRizzo, Dec 27, 2004
Photo of morimech
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a small tan head that quickly fades to a collar of bubbles. Just a little bit of spotty lacing is left on the glass. Has a nice roasted malt aroma with hints of dark fruit, chocolate, and coffee. Has a touch of sweetness in the flavor that is kind of unique with its subtle dark fruit notes. It is not until the finish that things turn bitter with the roasted malt and hops. The hops give some floral and herbal notes. A little solvent like alcohol warms and cleans the palate. The body feels a little light for a RIS. Carbonation is nice. A nice drinker but kind of average when it comes to RIS.

morimech, Sep 12, 2009
Photo of joekfsu
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle. Pours black, nearly opaque. Almost no head, beige, quickly diminishing. Light fruity aroma, maybe cherry or cranberry. Malt flavor up front, ends on bitter chocolate. Light aftertaste of bitter chocolate. Light to medium body, almost no carbonation. Alcohol hidden well. Very drinkable, but more so for the imperial stout drinker than others.

joekfsu, Oct 15, 2007
Photo of portia99
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle...been holding on to this one for a while (lot 3149 - not sure how old, but has at least a year on it). Poured into a Brooklyn snifter.

A - Pours an extremely dark brown color that is pretty much totally opaque. A thick finger of foamy and a bit fizzy cappuccino brown head lingers for a minute and falls to an even skim coat with just a hint of foamy lacing around the edge of the glass.

S - A bit boozy, soapy and a bit detergent-like, dark fruits, a bit of licorice, a bit floral, and lightly touched by roasted malt. Nothing wrong, but far from unique or memorable.

T - Flavor varies largely from the aroma. Lots of roastiness giving a distinct coffee flavor, some dark and milk chocolate, light touches of prunes, alcohol. Nicely bitter with a combination of grassy hops and dark roasted malts and a smooth but mild sweetness around the edges.

M - Creamy and smooth...sweetened espresso-like. Low carbonation and medium/full body. Really smooth and chocolately and coffee filled body.

O - I like this beer...it isn't what I'd call an outstanding example of the style, but it certainly is enjoyable. This is actually a pretty easy drinker and has an absolutely silky smoothness to it. The sum is better than the parts here. This won't blow you away, but it is solid and something that I could easily have more of.

portia99, Apr 02, 2011
Photo of Dotcubed
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a modest topping of coco colored foam for a year old bottle. bottle marked Lot 3178

Smells pretty inviting, roasted malt.
Dark black color. Creamy, dry.

Warming but not hot like I thought it may be with such high alcohol.
Hints of salty black licorice? Need more of these.

Very substantial offering. I'd like six for this time next year.

Dotcubed, Mar 10, 2010
Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into snifter, lot 51, no bottle dating. Pours pitch black color with a 1 finger dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Slight spotty lacing clings to the glass, with slight alcohol legs. Aromas of big milk chocolate, roasted malt, smoke, cream, toffee, caramel, and light herbal. Very nice and unique aromas with good strength and balance. Taste of milk chocolate, smoke, roasted malt, toffee, cream, coffee, caramel, toast, and earth. No bitterness after the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, roasted malt, cream, toffee, and earth on the finish for a bit. Very nice flavor balance and robustness; minimal cloying sweetness after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and body; with a nice creamy and slick mouthfeel; a touch thin for 9% though. Alcohol is extremely well hidden with zero warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a very nice imperial stout. Nice balance of robust and unique stout flavors; and extremely smooth to sip on. Very enjoyable stuff.

superspak, Oct 08, 2012
Photo of zeff80
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a jet black color with a port-like, small, tan head. It left sticky rings of lace.

S - It smelled of roasted malt, molasses and floral notes.

T - It tasted rich and malty. It had subtle coffee flavors and a slight bitter hop kick.

M - It was smooth and sharp. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a pretty nice imperial stout. It's not overwhelmingly alcoholic and tastes very good.

zeff80, Dec 31, 2008
Photo of Georgiabeer
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours aa turgid dark brown with lots of small floaties, and little head. A bit viscous. Smells of licorice and bit roasty. Th taste is a bit more complex and has more oomph. More licorice and roastiness, and a hint of bitter chocolate. Long finish. Very, very smooth in the mouth, and overall a little flawed but still quite pleasurable.

Georgiabeer, Apr 29, 2009
Photo of roadhouse
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance is nearly black in color except for a few mahogany highlights when held up to a light source. The head is about an inch and a half thick and tan in color. It falls to a skim and leaves some moderate lacing.

Aroma is chocolaty, with a bit of licorice, dark fruit, and a slight vinous note.

Taste is again chocolaty up front with a bit of dark fruit in the middle, molasses, and the finish is like lightly creamed coffee.

Mouthfeel is medium, with a nice creamy texture. Not as thick as some Imperial Stouts but it's good.

Pretty good Imperial Stout. If there is such a thing as a sessionable RIS, then I guess this would have to be it.

roadhouse, Feb 17, 2009
Photo of budsboy
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opaque black pour with a two-tone tan head that doesn't last as long as it maybe should.

Sweet malt sugar smell blends with espresso, chocolate and a sour grape aroma.

Well balanced sweet and bitter flavors: Coffee, dark chocolate, candied fruit, and raisin-prune. Slight metallic and sour taste is a bit off-putting.

Medium bodied but smooth with a minimum amount of carbonation.

This is an easy-drinker version of the RIS. Good but not outrageously so. A solid brew.

budsboy, Feb 07, 2009
Photo of Mdog
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black, good head.

Smell: Kind of strange, black licorice and bubblegum?

Taste: Nothing like the smell, pretty standard dark chocolate and coffee bitterness, maybe a little hint of wood smoke?

Mouthfeel: Very heavy.

Drinkability: Pretty tasty and a little less expensive than most impy stouts.

I had never seen this one from Two Bros. before, so I picked up a single to try. The mouthfeel stood out the most to me, very thick and syrupy. The smell from this was very strange, maybe it was from my glass or my nose was messed up. Who knows?
Worth a try.

Mdog, Jan 18, 2009
Photo of Hibernator
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Two Brothers Northwind Imperial Stout
22 oz brown bottle
Served in a 20 oz tulip pint glass

Pours a deep black with trails of sticky lacings on the side of the glass.

Whiffs of a chocolate bar and freshly brewed French Roast coffee.

Juicy chocolate syrup thickness with hints of milk chocolate. Hints of roasted coffee beans, almost espresso-like in the bitterness of the punch. A touch of sour cream interjects with a bitter hop bite. A touch of caramel sweetness with roasted malts as the backbone.

Solid - I would like to try this brew in the dead of winter.

Hibernator, Aug 25, 2007
Photo of hosehead83
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured from a 12oz. bottle into a wine goblet.
Inky black in color with a decent head of tan foam.
Aroma-Faint chocolate and dark toasted malt
Taste-Dark roasted coffee and cream,faint dark fruit, dark chocolate. Subtle hop note in the slightly warming finish. Friendly and pleasant, a nice imperial stout to cut your teeth on, or just a mellow-drinking sipper for a cold night.

hosehead83, Jan 31, 2012
Photo of wvsabbath
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Dark black, trace of brown, nice foamy 2 inch head and plenty of lacing.

Smell - Roasted malts, bold coffee, chocolate, dark fruits like rasin and plum. Wood and smoke. Some licorice, a little vanilla some hops round his brew out.

Taste - Roasted malts and mild coffee/chocolate overtones make up the main flavors of this beer. Hops are mild, only slight bitterness comes out. Chocolate and brown sugar round out the flavor at the finish.

Mouthfeel - Its thick but, not overly harsh on mouth for being 9.1%. Tounge gets malts, some coffee and chocolate and a little hop bitterness. Palette gets remaining sugars and malts, and some chcolate. Aftertaste is mild, smooth and malty.

Overall - Im shocked how smooth and one dimentional this beer is. Nothing strong, groundbreaking or special about this. The booze is well masked, this is closer to a porter then anything. Too mild and smooth for what style it is. Its decent but not close to being a top ris.

wvsabbath, Jan 19, 2012
Photo of umustdrink
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
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.

umustdrink, Mar 01, 2007
Photo of williamherbert
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The appearance is black tar with 1/3 puffy brown head. Lots of bubbles in the head. Dark as a bowling ball, even up close to the light.

Bittersweet cocoa powder smell. Sweet caramels and stone fruits, like raisins and dates. Roasted coffee malts too. Complex and nice.

The taste is roasted coffee malts, like a porter with a mild kick of alcohol. More raisins, sweet grapes and cocoa in the taste. Balanced between sweet and bitter, especially with warmth. Light toffee at the end.

The mouth is thick and ashy, but with a buttery smooth finish. Oily but more ashy as it warms up. It's pretty good. Very thick, though, so repeats might be a tough sell. Still, it's a balanced, complex stout.

williamherbert, Apr 11, 2009
Northwind Imperial Stout from Two Brothers Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 769 ratings.