Northwind Imperial Stout - Two Brothers Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Northwind Imperial StoutNorthwind Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

861 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 861
Reviews: 406
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 11.84%
Wants: 25
Gots: 64 | FT: 1
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 861 | Reviews: 406
Photo of Mikus
3.3/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured pitch black into a stemless wine glass (shoot me, my snifter was dirty), clean division between body and the cocoa-tinged head. Looks were the best quality unfortunately. Didn't live up to the IS moniker to me... slight roastiness and bitterness on the nose, with a weird smoky note too. Bit smoky and pleasantly bitter on the palate, actually the smokiness would be perfect if this was supposed to be a smoked beer)... lacked some of the bigger coffee and chocolate flavors I expect, and came off a bit thin on the mouthfeel. Upside is that the wife really liked it, and that has to be taken into account, I suppose. Wouldn't search this out, unless I was in the mood for a smoked porter.

Photo of jds16
3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A bit too far on the sweet side, which is fine for half a glass but drinkability suffers. A bit drier and I'd like this a whole lot more. Solid, but falls short of great.

Photo of chinchill
3.06/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

On tap at Tall Paul's (FL).

Pours essentially black with a lght tan head that has good retentino and leaves some lacing on the glass.

The smell is a bit sweet, there's roasted malt, chocolate, and a hint of caramel and toffee.

Taste: Dark roasted grains. A touch of sour and only a faint bit of dark fruit. Coffee, smoke and dark chocolate in the finish.

Feel: reasonablt smooth; medium-full body.

Overall: a poor example of the style although the high ABV is well hidden.

Photo of Mooslerfitness
4.37/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

This is a must try stout chocolate covered cocoa beans

Photo of TheBrewo
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

We pour this brew from the bottle into our three-quarter sized tasting snifters. It glugs out a deep, velvety espresso coloring, holding virtually no head. Few specks of lacing are left around the glasses as the beer begins to disappear. A dense haze obscures clarity, but no sediment is noted. Carbonation appears to be light, but what little bubbles are there are large. The aroma is cloyingly sweet yet heavy, giving up notes of metallic and sugary molasses, soy sauce, salted toffee, dried coral, tin, iced passion fruit tea, vodka and bourbon booziness, buttery diacetyls, dark fruitiness of fig, dried plum, apricots, and cherries, roasty chocolate and black maltiness, raw barley powderiness, pecan nuttiness, clean vanilla bean, and astringent and bitter red wine grapeiness. The taste to follow gives cold caramel, rich red cherry fruitiness, lactic creaminess, salty soy sauce, tin and aluminum, oily chocolate and butterscotch syrups, wet chocolate, black, and caramel maltiness, lime rind, poppy seeds, dusty dried rose petals, thick wood lacquer, phenolic plastics, powdered cocoa, high fructose corn syrup, vinyl plastics, and smoky leathers. The body is medium but oily, and the carbonation is a bit on the high side. Each sip provides appropriate slurp and smack, but cream and froth are lost to oily slickness, which coats the mouth before drying it significantly. The abv remains stylistically approachable, and drinkability sits at a cool sipability.

Overall, this was a reasonable representation of the style that was easy to enjoy. If we had to complain, the mouthfeel thinned more than we hoped, and contributed towards washing out the brightest punches of flavoring. The best thing about it was hard to pin down, as the aromas and flavors naturally coiled into one another, but unfortunately the same dullness persisted throughout. We were in a very stouty mood when we pulled this one from the cellar, and it shared between the two of us nicely, and warmly. Going along with the bottle’s label, we too would recommend enjoying this beer by a roaring fire. It makes the experience that much richer.

Photo of Brutaltruth
4.12/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An absolute favorite for the season. Enjoyed from the 12 oz bottle in a snifter. This FINE imperial stout pours pitch black with a rockin' tan head that slowly fades to a thick layer of foam with fantastic lacing. Nose of dark chocolate, light coffee, dark fruits, sweet dark malts, and moderate hops. Flavors follow the taste with sweet dark malts and chocolate to the front and sides, coffee and some light hop bitterness to the back with a light sweet aftertaste. Excellent! A beer I look forward to each year.

Cheers!

Photo of Vixie
3.71/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours almost pure black with a bit of a tan head that doesn't stay around too long, leaving some lacing across the surface of the beer and the dies of the glass.

The smell is a bit sweet, there's roasted malt, chocolate, and a hint of caramel and toffee.

Taste starts out a bit sweet, like a dried fruit sweet. It's a bit like prune or raisin up front, there's also coffee and chocolate. Finishes with a bit of hop bitterness and a touch of smoke.

Pretty smooth going down, the carbonation is a touch high for the style, giving a bit more tingling than expected.

Overall an easy to drink example of the style. Not quite as in your face as usually is the case, making this a great beer for someone wanting to try an RIS for the first time, but a bit intimidated by their strength. It is a bit on the sweet side, but still one worth checking out.

Photo of Ri0
3.91/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

poured 12oz bottle into chalice.

A - Obsidian with a 1 finger light tan head that fades into a very thin ring. A few dabs of lacing on the glass.

S - Aromas of roasted malts, dark chocolate and a bit of burnt caramel.

T - Nice amounts or roasted malt to go along with dark chocolate. Picking up hints of toffee and caramel with burnt notes.

M - Medium body, quite smooth with creamy carbonation.

O - A nice imperial stout that is easy to drink despite the higher ABV.

Photo of bwood06
4.12/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A - Very dark, almost black beer with a thick off-white creamy head that last forever. 4.5/5

S - Dark chocolaty richness with a hint of espresso. A bit of vanilla as well. 4.25/5

T - Taste follows the nose with a bit more cocoa, a bit less espresso, and a bit more vanilla. 4/5

M - Very thick and viscous with a wet finish. Not nearly as dry as most imperial stouts that I've had. Finishes very cleanly with a lingering bitterness. 3.75/5

O - Very good beer but the lingering bitterness brings down the score just a tad for me. Nice complexity while maintaining drinkability. 4.25/5

Photo of NoHorsePiss
4.61/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A - Man, this is a black one, just how I like my RISs, 1/8" of head that disappeared in 15 seconds
S - Caramel and fruit. I'd use it as air freshener or cologne.
T - Good and malty. I love malt flavor and this has it in spades.
M - This is a chip-less, snack-less beer. Never a need to trade off tastes when drinking it. Let the taste sit there between sips.

I enjoyed my single bottle from the store and will do my best to get a 6-pack before the seasonal shipment leaves.

Photo of pagriley
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

2013 vintage, so a year of bottle age

A - pours pitch black, head dissipates quickly with a little lacing
S - Caramel, a hint of coffee and a bit of dried dark fruits coming through
T - toasty and roasty
M - smooth as you could want. A touch lighter in the body (no surprise given it is a year old)

Overall a super solid Imperial stout. Not sure why a fair few people aren't that excited - it is a $12 6-pack classic imperial stout that checks all the boxes! 2 bucks a bottle people!

Photo of seedyone
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

10/09/13 On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. I feel guilty saying this, but if it were 2 years ago I would be ecstatic about this stout. Since then, there have been many in the genre that have out paced this effort. Not that there anything wrong here, it's just that there is not much to set it apart. Sitting in a place with 40 choices I realize that I'm privileged & the guilt sets in when I have to pass over such a noble effort. Looking forward to trying their vanilla bean brew.

Photo of brianmandell
3.77/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

An enjoyable, almost sessionable imperial stout due to its thin body. The score reflects the thin mouthfeel and relatively simple flavor profile. However, what is there is very enjoyable. Roasty malts, tart cherry, dark chocolate flavors. Active, creamy carbonation which offsets the slightly viscous but thin mouthfeel. The alcohols are well integrated. My bottle was aged for approximately 7 months from purchase.

Photo of jzeilinger
3.59/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

Photo of woodychandler
4.31/5  rDev +13.4%
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.

Photo of MaximalC
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

Photo of FLima
3.8/5  rDev 0%
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.

Photo of Cylinsier
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

Photo of ravot
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
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 BradC
3.54/5  rDev -6.8%
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.

Photo of craftbeerbyob
4/5  rDev +5.3%
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.

Photo of foglemgs
4/5  rDev +5.3%
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.

Photo of Jimmys
3.61/5  rDev -5%
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.

Photo of Slatetank
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

Photo of BeerandWhiskeyHQ
3.61/5  rDev -5%
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

Northwind Imperial Stout from Two Brothers Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 861 ratings.