1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. 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

748 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 748
Reviews: 384
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 11.84%
Wants: 18
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: 748 | Reviews: 384 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of RobertW
4.41/5  rDev +16.1%

I like it. Its what I expect from an Imperial Stout. Very satisfying with a taste that lingers and changes. Complex.

A- Dark brown/black.

S-Mocha-Coffesque...I can smell the ABV!

T- MMm. Rich,Deep,Complex,Smooth

M- Excitement! mouth feel is awesome, one of the best. Ive come to expect this from 2-Brothers!

O- Again. A dependable Imperial Stout. Recommended.

RobertW, Apr 10, 2013
Photo of edchicma
4.38/5  rDev +15.3%

This one hit me just right. At 7.5 abv it is on the lowere end of some Imp stouts I've sampled, but the quality is excellent. It pours mahogany to balck with a small head. The smell is a combination of smoky, malty witha faint hop presence. The taste shines....smoke, malt sweetness, coffee, sugar candy and hops..excellent. The mouthfeel was smooth, and almost creamy. This made for an extermely drinkable brew. Highly recommended.

edchicma, Apr 29, 2006
Photo of homebrew311
4.38/5  rDev +15.3%

Poured a 12 oz bottle of this years vintage

A: Pours black and viscous with a dark brown head. Foam sticks on sides of glass

S: the first smell is a very nice dark chocolate followed by a nice earthy hop bitterness. Notes of coffee, cocoa, and roasted barley.

T: first thing that hits me is the malts. Deep roasted flavor that is balanced very nicely with the hops. This year seems to have a nicer balance which translates into less sweetness. There is a slight hair of booziness on the end, but it melds nicely with all the other flavors present.

MF: Very nice, silky, velvety and thick. Not overwhelming on the body like some big stouts tend to be.

D: The last two years of this beer were unimpressive but solid, this years seems to be up a notch, particularly in relation to its balance. Because of this balance, and the incredible value (10.99 per 6er), this beer is highly drinkable.

homebrew311, Nov 19, 2009
Photo of TurdFurgison
4.38/5  rDev +15.3%

La Cave Du Vin in Cleveland had this on tap this week. I've had spotty experiences with Two Brothers beers in the past (the Bitter End pale ale rocks, the DuPaige French Ale tasted contaminated, and the Oh Brother tripel tasted like ass). But this stout was awesome.

If you've had Founders breakfast stout, you can imagine this stuff. Just reduce the coffee component by about 75% (making it just right in my opinion). I couldn't drink more than one, because I was trying too many other beers. But I'll get this again if I see it.

TurdFurgison, Jan 28, 2006
Photo of optiontwo
4.38/5  rDev +15.3%

12oz. poured into Unibroue tulip glass

Appearance: Black with a one inch somewhat tan head that was only conjured with a vigorous pour.

Smell: Chocolate, coffee, tobacco, caramel, and nuts. Plenty going on here, can't wait to taste.

Taste: Reminds of dark chocolate covered nuts, almonds maybe. There's a definite roasted flavor to everything that's in there. Other flavors include smoky coffee, dark fruit, and even cherries perhaps. The finish is clean with a perfect amount of hop bite.

Mouthfeel: Wonderful for an imperial stout. Carbonation and viscosity are both spot on.

Drinkability: Surprisingly high. I'm impressed that Two Brothers has made an imperial stout that tastes and feels like an imperial but is only 7.5% ABV. If you're looking for a nice full bodied stout to drink for a whole night, this is it.

Overall: I love it. I'll definitely be picking this one up again to have my friends try. Once again, very impressed with what Two Brothers has done here but I'm usually impressed with what they do.

optiontwo, Dec 09, 2008
Photo of drewba
4.38/5  rDev +15.3%

A - The way this pours is the quintessential imperial stout "look". Opaque black with ruby and purple tints around the edge of the glass. Two finger mocha head that is fluffy and full. Head falls to a thin yet bubbly mocha film with some pretty serious lacing.

S - The aroma is bold and really stands out. Huge dark chocolate and coffee with some honey and smoke nuance.

T - The chocolate and smoke are really coming forward in the taste. Whereas the chocolate hits right away and stays for the middle of the taste, the smoke is still highly apparent in the finish and aftertaste, unlike the chocolate. Coffee, and the tiniest amount of dark fruit are backing up the chocolate and there is a fair amount of sweet, honey perhaps. The sweetness does remind me a little bit of lactose sugar in a milk stout, but I don't see anything on the label to think that it was made with lactose sugar. The hops are definitely in the finish and add a small lemon tinge and a small level of bitterness. I'd have given it a 5/5, but the smoke is a little too pronounced for me. Admittedly, I'm not a fan of smoke...

M - a bit too thin, but somehow feels syrupy. It isn't that viscous, but somehow stays in your mouth. Carbonation is silky smooth, spot on.

D - Again, the smoke stays with you well into the aftertaste, which knocks down the drinkability for me, but this is a highly tasty beer that I will drink that will be consumed back to back. Also, I'm not sure how this is 9% abv, it's hidden like a boss.

drewba, Jan 09, 2011
Photo of mikesgroove
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%

Grabbed this one as an extra twice in the last month, go figure. I saw that as a sign I should probably try one. Served chilled and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 05/19/2009.
 
The pour was fantastic. Rich dark brown, and completely opaque. Huge head of tan rises up and over the top, only gradually settling down as the session gets going. Rich looking is an understatement here as this one presented exactly as it should have. Lots of chocolate in the aroma right away, hints of vanilla and molasses start to pop up as it comes up near room temperature along with a notable cookie dough like presence, very sweet. Smooth, creamy body here really let the flavor sit in well, and the sweet, dessert like profile just continued right along as it progressed. Light coffee notes, lots of cocoa and a hint of molasses. Definite night cap here. Not much in the way of ABV issues for the style made it somewhat session able if dare I mention it.
 
Overall not bad at all. Nothing going to blow your mind here, but I have to say this was a more then solid effort on their part. I would have no issue at all with having this one again, in fact I might look for it as it really seemed to go over quite well.

mikesgroove, May 20, 2009
Photo of DrDemento456
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%

A - A harsh pour produced two inches of mocha head. Lacing is medium on this one with a very dark black liquid.

S - Smells mostly of roast coffee which is awesome. Slight cocoa and chocolates along with a mild bit of hops as well. Then I wait for the foam to settle...

T - Sweet chocolate and bitter roasted coffee hit the tongue at the same time. Little hop presence which is good since the beer is over 5 months old. The finish almost has a sweet malted toffee tone that is tasty.

M - Perplexing since it drinks very medium bodied but it's a 9 percent full bodied imperial.

Overall it hard to say it but this beer is right on par with southern tier Oat. Great sweetness with a balanced roast and very drinkable. At 2.19 a bottle I now kick myself for not getting a sixer since it's so damn tasty. Not sure why this has a B rating since it screams A quality.

DrDemento456, Jun 13, 2011
Photo of FishHeadLover
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%

Love this brewery so I was really looking forward to this one.
A- Poured black with a little thickness, brown head that laced around the edge of the glass.
S- Smelled of slight coffee and chocolate.
T- Taste was smooth with hints of chocolate and coffee. The ABV was lighter than I am use to in an imperial but it went well with the taste.
M- Not as chewy as some imperials but it had a coating on the tougue that was nice.
D- Very drinkable very smooth and finished without any hint of burnt coffee.

FishHeadLover, Jan 02, 2009
Photo of karengarys
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%

This pours really dark black, as expected, tan head as expected, not hazy.

Smell reminds me of rasins.

taste is nice RIS taste, bit of rasins and fruit but this is NOT fruity, it is just.... balanced... It has a tad of hops that most RISs don't, and it really works for some reason.

Mouthfeel is a bit creamy, the alcohol stabs the tongue a bit but the hops cleans it up well.

Finish is clean too - the stuff going on all works well together...

It is way easy to drink. I didn't want to spend $8-9 a pop on this, but sometimes ya just gotta say.... why now.. I think I'm gonna grab a few more now that I've learned it is worth it.

Give this a whirl. It fits the RIS class, but it is a tad bit different giving me exactly what I would want from a small high quality American brewery.

karengarys, Dec 09, 2007
Photo of drbeef
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%

I'll tell you right now that I haven't had this beer in a couple weeks but I thought I should mention that if you can get your hands on it, I highly recommend it.

Beautiful black with dark creamy head

Chocolate and coffee with malty and dried fruit sweetness.

Taste? The same. Dark chocolate, roasty, sweet and delicious.

A little easier to drink than some other imperial stouts. Went through a few growlers of this stuff in as many weeks.

As if it wasn't a treat on its own, you can get a Northwind Float at the Tap House. Like beer heaven.

drbeef, Apr 23, 2008
Photo of littlekidlover
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%

I poured this beer into a tulip shaped glass. The head was a coffee and cream color, about a finger think, it receded quickly leaving lacing up the glass. I got coffee and chocolate off the nose, the taste was mostly coffee and dark chocolate with a slight berry background (think a good dark chocolate). The mouthfeel is satisfying, not as thick as some of the bigger Imperial Stouts. Very drinkable for the style. Hops are balanced, no bitter aftertaste. I alternated 3 Northwind's with 2 Dogfish Head 90 minutes yesterday, can't complain. I want to taste one next to the Victory Storm King this week.

littlekidlover, Jan 05, 2009
Photo of lightindarkness
4.33/5  rDev +13.9%

Poured oily black with an aggressive bubbly tan head settling to very little, leaving bubbly lace. Only a few deep red highlights catch on the bottom of the glass. Roasted grain and fruit scents brim from the glass, with prune, burnt wood, and smoke. An interesting mix of sweet, tart, and sour aromas. Taste is unique and inviting, with a good deal of cocoa, dark toasted bread, and juicy dark fruits. A light smoke flavor seems to tie it all together very nicely, giving it a mature taste. Finishes with some clean hop bitterness. Sticky, smooth, and slightly dry on the back end. Though differing from many RISs in feel and taste, a very unique and great beer on its own. Excellent drinkability, very palatable and easy to consume with a reasonable abv. Not what I expected in a RIS, but an excellent brew.

lightindarkness, Feb 18, 2008
Photo of Wasatch
4.33/5  rDev +13.9%

Thanks goes out to Buebie for this brew.

Lot 3178

Poured into a tulip a black color, nice carbonation, nice one-finger creamy tan head, with lots of sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, with some vanilla, chocolate/toffee. The taste is very nice, sweet, malty, with nice touch of chocolate/toffee notes. Medium body, this is not a high ABV IS, but very tasty. Very drinkable.

Wasatch, Feb 27, 2009
Photo of woodychandler
4.31/5  rDev +13.4%

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.

woodychandler, Mar 13, 2014
Photo of dhannes
4.3/5  rDev +13.2%

Poured into a standard pint glass.

A=Very dark brown...poured a large (3 finger) golden head that lasted over a minute.

S=Almost non-existant. Faint smell of semi-sweet chocolate and cocoa powder.

T=Coffee with tangy aftertaste; hints of irish whiskey flavoring, as well as slight chocolate flavors; slightly sweet as well.

M=Very drinkable...perhaps a bit less body for the style; almost no carbonation left; cannot taste the alcohol.

O=My bottle had been in the cellar for 3+ months, and probably was on the shelf for a month or two before that. Very nice beer that is good by itself or may go well with red meat or barbecued chicken, perhaps. Would buy again.

dhannes, Apr 30, 2012
Photo of Erish
4.3/5  rDev +13.2%

I poured this 12 oz. bottle into a Nonic pint glass.

A: opaque blackish-brown color, an aggressive pour unleashed a thick, cascading, dark tan head that fell into a wonderful cap with tenacious lacing.

S: coffee, molasses, roasted malt, smoky oak, soy sauce, dark chocolate, hint of farmer's cheese. Classic RIS profile.

T: loads of roasted malt flavor up front, as well as a hint of farmer's cheese, the coffee is strong in the middle, followed by an anise and chocolate note, as well as a generous grassy/herbal hop note, the finish is grassy hop/toasted malt bitter, somewhat chalky, and smoky. Nicely balanced with good structure and fidelity to the profile. Well done.

M: medium to full-bodied, lightly creamy, finish is slightly oily, the carbonation is low to moderate, the lingering finish is chalky.

D: This is a wholly enjoyable RIS, with plenty going for it. I would put this among the top of the second tier of RISs. If the mouthfeel were more satisfying, it would rub shoulders with FBS and Old Rasputin.

Erish, Dec 19, 2010
Photo of blakesell
4.3/5  rDev +13.2%

Beer has been aged in my cellar for roughly 2 years under the best cellaring conditions that I can muster.

Poured from the 22oz bottle into an over sized brandy snifter.

Appearance- Beer pours a solid midnight with no head at all really, lacing does cling to the sides pretty thickly. There is a somewhat gluey consistency to the beer itself.

Smell- Lactose and milk chocolate upfront with many many dark malts bringing up the rear. I really love the two brothers yeast strain, especially after aging the smell really jumps out of their beers.

Taste- Dark malts upfront with a nice creamy chocolate coating coming through. Lightly bitter but seems quite balanced. Very thick on the mouth. Some light licorice notes and some prunes as well on the tongue.

Mouthfeel- Creamy and thick with very low warming, which isn't that surprising as the beer isn't that high on the ABV levels. Full bodied, medium in carbonation levels.

Drinkability- Very smooth on the drinkability scale and I would love to try it on tap.

blakesell, Aug 18, 2008
Photo of scruffwhor
4.3/5  rDev +13.2%

Poured from a 22oz bomber. Poured into my Carlsberg impy pint glass.

Appearance- Pours a 90% solid black with the other 10% being a UPS brown. Head was a nice beige color with retention nicely mainatined at the filmy foam level.

Smell- I've had some very good RIS's, and a lot had very strong, easily defined aromas. This one had creamy hazelnuts with splashes of cascade hops miced with bakers chocolate. But keepin mind all these smells were muted. Or they weren't almost overpowering. Really let your nose dive into the smell than be overwhelmed.

Taste- Strat out with slightly hoppy, creamy hazelnuts. Actually, a good taste comparison with this beer is chocoate, hazelnut coffee. But once again, the flavors weren't cloying.

Mouthfeel- Rich, but not too rich for an RIS. Not too mention nutty and creamy.

scruffwhor, May 07, 2006
Photo of mynie
4.3/5  rDev +13.2%

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.

mynie, May 01, 2007
Photo of JohnnyChicago
4.28/5  rDev +12.6%

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a goblet.

A: Pours a dark chocolate with a mocha head, pretty!

S: Chocolate and black patent malt in the nose, with some bittering hops in the back.

T: Lots of chocolate and creamy malts. A hint of lactose even? Really, just lots and lots of milk chocolate.

D: No joke, one of the top three most drinkable RIS. This brew is so well balanced I felt like I was drinking a Great Lakes beer.

Overall: Its been said before and its true: this is a one-note beer. Its just a huge load of chocolate. That being said, they really milk that one note for all its worth; this beer is never boring and is remarkably smooth and drinkable. A good and unpretentious RIS.

JohnnyChicago, Dec 03, 2010
Photo of innersanctum
4.28/5  rDev +12.6%

A big shout out to my main boilermaker, Jim E for this awseome gift!

Poured this 12 ounce gem into a British pint glass and really enjoyed this smooth stout

Jet black appearance with 2 fingers of foamy tan colored head and retention; this brew looks perfect, and staring at that glass rekindles an image of a British pub

Aroma of a sweet, biscuitty, and dark chocolate notes

Rich, full bodied, toasty malt, balanced with some hops which accentuate the side of my tongue, and a finish with a bit of zing that lingers on the palate. The 9% ABV is not present in the taste, where many stouts this potent are sipper type beers, the alcohol is unobtrusive.

Very balanced, yet medium heavy mouthfeel, which is perfect for tonight's 32F temperature outside

This is a nice easy drinker

innersanctum, Mar 07, 2011
Photo of Skye1024
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

Skye1024, May 12, 2012
Photo of tjsdomer2
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

Appearance: Nice solid black appearance. Good thickness for a stout. Decent head and good lacing. Definitely solid.

Smell: Roast coffee with hints of chocolate. This is the only stout I can think of that smells more of coffee than chocolate, or at least notably so. Refreshing smell.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Mainly chocolate and coffee. Some dark fruit as well. Nothing that really stands out and it's not that strong, besides a nice smokiness. This smokiness really adds a lot though. Mouthfeel is nice and creamy and this goes well with the smokiness.

Drinkability: The nice mouthfeel makes this enjoyable.

Overall: A respectable example of a stout.

tjsdomer2, Jan 13, 2011
Photo of norinco
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

norinco, Feb 15, 2014
Northwind Imperial Stout from Two Brothers Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 748 ratings.