Northwind Imperial Stout - Two Brothers Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Northwind Imperial StoutNorthwind Imperial Stout

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BA SCORE
86
very good

787 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 787
Reviews: 387
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 12.37%
Wants: 21
Gots: 42 | 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
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Ratings: 787 | Reviews: 387 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bowersdm
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - amazing. It was the typical color or an RIS with just a tiny hint of ruby on the fringes when held in front of a light with a stiff, slowly fading 2.5cm head.

S - dark chocolate (or maybe semi-sweet) and roasted barley. There may have been something else going on here, but i have a sinus infection, so my smell is slightly off.

T - okay, it's definitely dark chocolate followed by a small hop flavor. After a few drinks, a coffee taste is noticeable, as well as a smokiness or burnt barley flavor.

M - perfect carbonation. It's thick and really, really creamy. It's probably the best mouthfeel/texture I've ever had in a bottled RIS.

D - Pretty good. The abv is low and beer isn't quite as filling as other RISs.

Eh, this is a pretty good RIS. If you're new to the style, I'd recommend trying it just so you can prep yourself for the flavor overload of other RISs. It's one to try, but I'm not crazy about it.

Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer poured into the glass black with a ruby highlight and a brown but low head which fell quickly and lace the glass.

The aroma was nicely chocolately with a earthy hop presence. The aroma contained a sizeable expresso coffee aroma. The hops were grassy and almost a bit of menthol was present.

The flavor was coffee with a nice chocolate flavor and a well done hop presence. The hops were grassy and earthy and very prominent in the flavor. As the beer warmed a bit of the menthol component of the aroma was present in the flavor.

The finish was dry with a lasting roasty coffee expresso and chocolate coupled with a strong grassy bittering well into the afteraste and beyond. The body was medium full and just a bit lower than expected. For an 8.5% ABV beer the alcohol was very restrained.

22 ounce bottle, 8.5% ABV on label. Lot 3345. Thanks beerinator!

Photo of crayphish
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The brew pours a light canceling jet black liquid. Liquid is notably thick with a thin dark beige head. Nominal lacing. Smell is roasted malts with coffee and chocolate making their presence known. Some tartness is noted. Taste is chocolate coffee with a sweet raisin note over a faint hop bitterness. Not overly complex, but extremely balanced. Mouthfeel is fairly full due to the thickness of the beer. Does not finish as clean as one would like. The heaviness of this beer hurts its drinkability. Though it was still enjoyable.

Photo of Willytee3
3.94/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

Photo of merlin48
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is my first sampling of a brew from Two Brothers. Thanks to clvand0 for the trade. This 12 oz bottle pours an opaque, deep brown body with a small, tan, head that quickly drops into film and collar lace.
Aroma features prominent, dark roasted malts with a coffee dominance. Hints of dark chocolate, anise, and walnuts are picked up in the background.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, but somewhat light for style. Carbonation is low, and there is a tingling hops presence that comes from the 45 IBUs proclaimed by the label.
The taste is dominated by coffee bitterness. Smoky, roasted malts are prevalent, with some dark fruits(prunes and figs) and nuttiness. A hint of licorice is also noted.
This isn't as substantial as most imperial stouts, but is still a good one that is worth a try.

Photo of Brenden
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2B tap takeover at Swig 7/11/12. The wife's beer; #2.5?

This beer is big and black with a brown head about one finger tall that shows good retention. Lacing is a bit understated on the glass. It's not a big, thick, heavy stout, by any means, and one can see the direction they wanted to take with this beer by looking at it. It's more even and balanced than a big, destructive monster.
Northwind has a strong malts foundation with roasty notes. The chocolate is more bittersweet baking chocolate than sweet, but a sweetness certainly does come through, vanilla and dark fruits, making it sweeter than is typical without being cloying. I can see some in the beer community with the new trend of face-melting beers not liking that this beer is lighter than some, but the focus really is on the overall flavor, balance and attenuation. It succeeds. There's a complexity to this beer with the malts, the sweetness, cocoa, coffee grounds, and even caramel/toffee. There's a nice earthiness as well and just enough light hops to keep it malt-forward but balanced.
The body isn't as big as one might expect and, I'll admit, perhaps not as big as it should be. It does have a richness to it, though, a nice flow, smoothness, and a nip of crispness to keep it moving.

Photo of prototypic
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Northwind pours a dark mahogany color. Looks a lot like chocolate fudge. It's close to opaque, save for a few scarlet highlights at the outer edges. It's topped with a moderate mocha tan head that reaches a couple of fingers in depth. It's slow to dissipate and leaves a nice, sticky coat of lace on the glass. This is impressive looking stuff.

The nose is on the weak side of the spectrum. It has a nice malty scent up front. Chocolate malts seem to be the focal point. They have a bittersweet smell. Roasted coffee follows and seems to take over from there. They're a nice complement to the chocolate malts. There's a hint of roasted malts, but it's subtle. It's not exactly deep or complex, but it's far from bad. Alcohol is blended very well and isn't noticeable. A little more strength and this would easily warrant a score bump.

The flavor is a notch better. Chocolate malts are indeed front and center. They do have a bittersweet flavor, but there is some unexpected sweetness there, as well. I like the mix. Roasted coffee doesn't seem quite as strong in flavor, but its presence is effective. It complements the chocolate malts nicely and adds a nice dimension to the overall flavor. Roasted malts are present, but they take a backseat to the other flavors. Nonetheless, they bolster the flavor. There is some evidence of hops here. They're lightly citric and a little bitter. Alcohol is masked very well for an 8.5% beer. I'm not getting much at all there. It finishes chocolaty and dry.

Northwind has a medium-full body that feels more and more substantial with warming. It's nice and smooth. I'm tempted to award the next highest score, but it doesn't quite feel creamy. Drinkability is good. Northwind has a nice flavor that satisfies. It's not exactly world class, but it is good and goes down easy. Given its strength, I'll stick with a single 12 oz. bottle. But, I'd be tempted to have another bottle.

Two Brothers is generally a brewery you can count on for good beer. That's exactly what you get with Northwind. It's not great by any stretch, but it is very good. With a couple of tweaks, it'd easily attain a higher score. The nose could use a little strength and the flavor could use just a little pizzazz. More hops or some spices might do the trick. Overall, I'm pretty impressed with Northwind. It's good beer that's probably a little better than this score might indicate. Not much, but a little. Definitely recommended.

Photo of EORS
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had 2 pints of this on draft at my local last night. Happy secretary's (administrative professionals') day!

Appearance: Dark. Dark to the point of opacity. fairly small bit of head to start out with, but it did retain well. Bartender at the local tends to fill pints up to the rim, not that I mind.

Smell: Probably the weakest aspect of the beer - nothing really stood out in terms of hop aroma, maltiness and hints of alcohol covered it up.

Taste: Very smooth, full-bodied malt flavor: sweet caramel and chocolate. Alcohol warms at the end but is hidden very well under the malt. Maybe a tiny bit of hop bitterness but it's hard to tell whether that's a coffeelike acidity or alcohol in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and thick. The sweet heavy malt in this beer combined with the low carbonation made it very smooth, pleasant, and easy to drink.

Overall: Full disclosure, I had no idea of the ABV or style of the beer when I was drinking it. It was billed at my bar as a stout and I enjoyed it greatly as a stout. I can see why people expecting a big imperial stout have been disappointed - the amount of bitterness in the brew really reminds me of a regular or even a sweet. However, the body of the beer, the drinkability, and the nice malt bill made this a very enjoyable beer. Cross "imperial" off the name and I think it would be better reviewed.

Photo of diabecktic
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance:
Despite a hard, controlled pour, this beer literally exploded all over me; there were easily ~4 fingers of head which kept flowing over the lip of the glass into which I poured it. After a while, the thick, foamy light-brown head settled at ~2 fingers. The beer itself is almost pitch black, but it's really more of a ruby-dark brown mix. Lacing is excellent.

Smell:
The major notes of the nose are a heavily roasted malt and smoked chocolate. Overall, it's kind of an "earthy" scent.

Taste:
I find this beer fairly sweet, but not directly on account of the chocolate. The notes of barley and chocolate are heavily roasted/smoked, but the flavor still seems rather sugary. Sweetness isn't particularly overpowering, as it resembles something which might be found in a dark fruit (plum, perhaps). I detect minimal hopiness, so there isn't too much bitterness of which to speak.

Mouthfeel:
This is a very thick beer, so I assume that a copious amount of sugar was present in the malt. As such, I rate the body as heavy. At 9.1% the alcohol is well hidden, but it seems to dry out my mouth towards the end of each sip (though only ever-so-slightly). This is definitely a beer which you want to consume slowly.

Overall:
I can't speak much to the complexity or balance of this beer. Personally, I find it a bit sweet for my liking, but I do enjoy the presence of the "darker" sweetness. The characteristic smokiness is also present, but it's not too overpowering. I have a feeling that this style is really more of an acquired taste; however, this shouldn't stop you from trying it.

Photo of weeare138
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Tomdecapolis for the bottle...
Appears a black with a small tan head and scattered lacing left around the glass.
Smell is of caramel, vanilla, chocolate, and a touch of coffee.
The taste is of the same aromas.
Mouthfeel is sweet, slightly thin, with some hops resonating. Rich flavors seem to hang on to the palate a bit too long.
Not a bad brew though.

Photo of dbrauneis
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

Photo of vic21234
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

Photo of stewart124
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

Photo of Vdubb86
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

Photo of Natural510
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

Photo of Rayek
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

Photo of schoolboy
3.92/5  rDev +3.2%
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.

Photo of Kraty1
3.92/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of ravot
3.91/5  rDev +2.9%
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%

Photo of GeoffRizzo
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
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”.

Photo of morimech
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

Photo of joekfsu
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

Photo of portia99
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

Photo of Dotcubed
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

Northwind Imperial Stout from Two Brothers Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 787 ratings.