Tovarish Imperial Espresso Stout | Pizza Port Solana Beach

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22 Ratings

Brewed by:
Pizza Port Solana Beach
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by EmilNoldSinclair on 06-12-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 22 |  Reviews: 16
Photo of iridius
3/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of spycow
4.34/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of cjohal85
5/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Photo of jzeilinger
4.13/5  rDev -4.2%

Photo of Sparky44
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%

Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%

Photo of bulletrain76
3.88/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Growler at the RBSG09 grand tasting thanks to Cquiroga. Black with a tan head. green coffee and light dark chocolate aroma. The flavor is just an assault of sweet coffee. Nice, but a not one-dimensional. Medium-full body with medium carbonation. Nice coffee flavors. I dig it, but coffee is about all you get.

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Photo of imTSENsational
4.85/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've been a long time lurker on BA while writing reviews on notecards for my own reference. However, the Tovarish was such a mindblowing experience to drink that I must share it with others.

Was able to sample a generous pour from the brewer himself at The Bruery's tasting room (Placentia, CA)

Smell: Thick sweet roasted malts, espresso, creamy dark chocolate, vanilla. Very fragrant and aromatic.

Taste: Brilliant complex balance of flavors roll over the tongue--coffee, rich molasses and dark chocolate, sweet roasted malts, faint vanilla, caramel, and hops to tie it all together. Delicately sweet. 11% ABV masked completely (3-month old bottle). Good depth with many layers of flavors.

Mouthfeel: Full body, viscous, silky, creamy. Tame carbonation (bubbles die fast) allows for beer to fully coat the tongue and give that viscous, creamy feeling. A great pleasure to drink as dessert or paired with a cigar. Dangerously drinkable.

Easily edges out many RIS. More enjoyable than my recent Stone RIS and Ten-Fidy, for example.

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Photo of illidurit
4.03/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

RBSG growler courtesy of cquiroga at the grand tasting. Pours dark dark brown with a nice dark tan head. Aroma is a little chalky and a little vegetal from the coffee beans, but these are minor off flavors in a sea of roasted malts, sweet cream, dark chocolate, cocoa, and fig. Flavor is just blatant coffee that washes into caramel and chocolate before finishing dry. Good stuff.

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Photo of jwinship83
4.17/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

on tap at two brothers during "for the love of hops." 6$ for a 9oz pour into a clear plastic cup. the sixtel went in about 5 minutes. taken from notes.

A- this one comes out a completely black colored body with a small khaki colored head. the head quickly became no more than a crown and leaves behind spotty lacing.

S- lots of roasted malts, alcohol, dark chocolate, and more coffee than the usual coffee infused stout.

T- very dark and roasted. full of coffee/hops. strong alcohol presence. a little bit of chocolate.

M- full bodied and thick. palate coating. strong warming from the alcohol on its way down, but that might have been intensified by the fact that we were enjoying this outdoors in june.

D- easy to finish for something this big, and i was sad when i went back for another and there was none to be had. glad i got a chance at this west coast rarity. i wish it would have be bottled.

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Photo of barnzy78
4.2/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

9oz tap offering at 'For the Love of Hops Festival' at Two Brothers Brewing Co. - Warrenville, IL. As crowds got bigger, the availability of the guest taps were unfortunately rare commodities (this 1/6 keg lasted 6 minutes).

Poured black with a pleasant foamy, chocolaty brown head that had good retention. Aromas were roasty, with chocolate and a huge espresso nose. Mouth-feel was thinner than expected, but not watery. Low carbonation allowed for a smooth feel over the palate as well. Tastes were full espresso with roasted malt notes with some bittersweet chocolate. Alcohol was very well concealed, but was notable in warming the throat. Overall, this was very good but seemed to be lacking in a few areas - especially with mouth-feel. Rare treat at a great event.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ, I've had this a few times and the review will harken back on past experiences, brewed at the Solana Beach location,

A: Pours black, with a firm tan head, nice lace.

S: Complex coffee, roast, cappuccino, dark chocolate, great nose.

T: The flavour starts where the smell leaves off. The coffee and roasted malt are in your face, great taste, up there with the best in the world.

M: Smooth, soft carbonation, full-bodied, no ethanol to note.

D: This batch wasn't the best I've had of Tovarish, but it was still quite good. Julian's made some amazing stuff that would put Speedway to shame though. A must try if you see it out in California.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

At first I thought this beer would be too much for me. It was the morning after a beer fest, I was a bit hungover, and I had before me a beast of an Imperial Stout while I sat at a picnic table at Port Solana Beach. The beer turned out to be a behemoth, but in all its palate wrecking glory it maintained a certain finesse that many big Russian Imperial Stouts tend to lose somewhere along the path.

Before me, in a 12oz glass, Tovarish is ebony with a great light brown head. The lacing clings to the glass as the head slowly recedes.

As I expected, the dominant aroma of the beer is strong coffee, yet somehow the strength does not overwhelm the subtleties of the beer. Roasted malt, dark chocolate, molasses, and caramel are all very noticeable. Alcohol lingers in the background, yet doesn't reveal its full strength. The flavor is quite aggressive at first, but the characteristics sort themselves out and reveal a complex flavor. The coffee is there, and quite powerful, but the dark roasted malt balances out the strength of the coffee. Caramel and molasses are prominent, as well as rich, dark chocolate. The alcohol is strong in the finish, as it should be for a beer of this strength, but considering 11%, the alcohol is well hidden and doesn't overwhelm. The beer has a medium-high level of hop bitterness. The finish is dry, and it sums up all the flavors as they die and yield a lingering deliciousness.

Full bodied with a low-medium level of carbonation. The beer is big, chewy, and dry, yet creamy.

Tovarish is a top notch Russian Imperial Stout that should be sought out. Great work, Julian.

 1,611 characters

Photo of Kegatron
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Pizza Port Solana Beach on 3/16/09. Served in a 12 oz glass.

Pours as black as night into the glass, with roughly a finger or so of burnt mocha colored head. Thin frothy covering flares up hugely, leaving massive spotty lacing and brown oils down the sides of the glass. This aroma just smells big, with huge roasted notes, zippy espresso character (that has a touch of astringency to it), and a thick smelling chocolate sweetness. I'm also getting maybe a touch of some dark fruits in there as well, along with a light waft of heat.

The taste is just as big as the aroma, with a powerful mix of roasted oats, robust espresso coffee flavors, chewy notes of chocolate and caramel, and a touch of dark fruits and sticky molasses, which really stands out to me in the finish. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a big and creamy feel that really brings out all of those big flavors. I'm also only getting a light sense of warmth as I drink this, despite the 11% ABV, which stays incredily well hid. Very nice!

I was hoping that one of the Pizza Ports was going to have a big Stout on during my recent San Diego trip and this did not disappoint in any way. Powerful and complex, with a huge drinkibility for it's size, this was a real treat. If we didn't have other places to visit, I could have gotten into some real trouble with a couple more of these.

 1,365 characters

Photo of magictrokini
4.2/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big, full flavor stout. Pours black with a huge brown microbubble head. Espresso and caramel aroma with a fair amount of powdered cocoa. Smooth, rich coffee flavor without the bite. Nice malt/hop balance, with the caramel coming through nicely. It is like a milder Speedway.

 274 characters

Photo of hopdog
4.3/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap.

Poured a dark black color with a small sized tan head. Aromas of roast, lighter espresso, chocolate, and vanilla, Tastes of chocolate, roast, dark fruits, caramel, and some espresso. The espresso - coffee was there, but for some reason, I wished there was more in there -I am a sucker for coffee in my beers-.

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Photo of LongBeachHopHead
4.82/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 02 brewed by saco_de_toro at Pizza Port Solana Beach. Brewed with Peet's expresso and black-strap molasses. 11.0%

Appearance: Poured cold, retains a very dense layer of creamy coffee stained head. Very dark and extremely inviting!

Smell: swirled a few times, this beer releases a rich dark roasted coffee essence and savory rich dark chocolate undertones with hints of nutty hazelnut and caramelized raisin coming through. Surprisingly no massive alcohol presence, very inviting!

Taste: Warmed up a bit and savored on the palate, this beer has all that it takes to qualify as a top RIS. Great balance with the espresso and molasses, and not overpowering at all. Could probably heat this up and enjoy it in the winter.

Mouthfeel: I was impressed by the smoothness of this beer. It's velvety feel on the tongue with all the coffee and chocolate releasing as you swish make it a pleasant experience. Could enjoy this with a nice cigar.

Drinkability: I could have enjoyed this over a period of an hour but was short on time. Julian does a great job with balancing large flavors and making them palatable. I hope this gets bottled one day, it would definitely be a stout lovers favorite and trade with the best.

Poured out of a growler at Beachwood BBQ! Thanks to Julian for all the hard work!

EDITed May 29, 2009: Batch 03: Much more coffee espresso presence than before, when warmed up for an hour; amazing flavors of coffee, chocolate with slight hazelnut and pecan undertones defining the curve. It holds intensity from beginning to end of a sip, very drinkable for such a big beer. Dialing it in moved the Taste from 4.5 to a 5 for me.

 1,648 characters

Photo of 0110x011
4.48/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a perfect pitch black with a thick, foamy, latte brown head. Huge coffee nose, with earth and leather behind it. Flavor is huge roasty coffee goodness. A bit of dark fruit comes around with the earthy notes. Smooth as silk and creamy as hell. One is enough, but that one is spectacular.

This stuff is on par with any imperial stout I've had. If it were bottled, it would be legendary.

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Photo of Floydster
4.73/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce glass at Pizza Port in Solana Beach for $5.25, consumed 9/3/08, reviewed from notes, unfortunately there was no growler fills on this one and I left with my jug empty

A-Black and pretty much as dark as can be, big 1 1/4 inch tan head that lasted over five minutes, great retention, even better lacing
S-Molasses, espresso, dark roasted malts, rich chocolate, caramel, and also some sweeter coffee like a latte or something
T-Flavor is almost completely sweet chocolate and espresso, gets less dry as it warms, actually goes from being nothing but coffee in the first sip or two to a sweet roasty java delight, really liked the creaminess in the aftertaste, great balance, could not get much better for what it is
M-Rich, chewy, roasty, sweet, and dry mouthfeel, very complex, thick full body, just the right amount of carbonation, taste lingers and becomes creamier the longer you leave it in your mouth
D-Could have drank numerous glasses of this even though it would have knocked on my backside, alcohol was hidden better than most imperial stouts I have ever had, smooth and easy to drink for its style

I will just say that this is the best beer I have had in a very long time, Julian puts any home brewer I know to shame, hopefully he gets to brew with Pizza Port again, glad I got to try this after a keg blew in a couple hours at Beachwood BBQ a few weeks back, puts several of the hyped beers to shame in my opinion, would love to drink again but I do not know if that is likely, highly recommended

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Photo of awaisanen
4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a viscous, pitch black color, completely opaque, topped with a slender finger of tight bubbled tan head.

Rich, decandent aromas of chocolate truffle drizzled with espresso syrup. Gentle roast and dark chocolate notes seem to be well integrated with an underlying earthy, nutty coffee richness. Hints of herbal hops noticeable as well.

Full bodied, softly carbonated mouthfeel with a rich, chewy texture. A big bodied beer, but much of the texture seems to come from hearty malt dextrins rather than sugary sweetness.

Smooth flavors of chocolate and mild coffee up front on the palate. Toward the middle, some herbal hop bitterness sharpens up the flavors some along with an alcohol presence. Long, lingering finish, in which the richness of the coffee and clean roast characters blend together beautifully.

Great beer overall, especially the integration of the coffee flavors with the hefty malts. The alcohol is a bit warming right now, but I can imagine it melding into the beer even more beautifully with just a little time.

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Photo of rallison
4.28/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Note about this beer: Guest-brewed by SacoDeToro (a most excellent homebrewer) at Pizza Port Solana Beach. Blackstrap molasses and Peet's coffee are used in the brewing.

Had a couple small glasses of this at Pizza Port Solana Beach.

This is one rich, immense imperial stout. Lots of chocolate nicely backed by a tasty espresso component. The coffee in this luckily is not astringent and definitely doesn't thin the body whatsoever. Slightly hot, but this becomes less noticeable as the beer warms and the rich malts take over. While hot, there is no harshness in the malts, something I also appreciate. Light but pleasant hopping. Ultimately, if you love chocolate-espresso imperial stouts, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try.

Mouthfeel is very smooth, pleasantly coating and rich. Slightly low carbonation, but I have no problem with that in this style.

Drinkability is a 4.0 for now, but with a few months age that may go up as the heat starts disappearing.

Nicely done Julian.

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Photo of EmilNoldSinclair
4.32/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Consumed on tap at Solana Beach Pizza Port...
Appearance was black as oil, with a small brownish head.
Aroma was aggressively malty, sweet plum, raisin, chocolate.
Taste was fairly similar to aroma: sweet and fruity, with mild bitterness, nothing overpowering in that respect. The espresso wasn't really dominant, but rather complimented the flavors that are expected in a big imperial stout (Stone IRS, Great Divide Yeti, etc.).
Mouthfeel was nice and smooth, low carbonation was appropriate to style.
Overall this was a fairly memorable IRS that I'd definitely return to again.

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Tovarish Imperial Espresso Stout from Pizza Port Solana Beach
Beer rating: 4.31 out of 5 with 22 ratings
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