Lava
Ölvisholt Brugghús

LavaLava
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Style:
Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #196
ABV:
9.4%
Score:
92
Ranked #3,373
Avg:
4.13 | pDev: 10.41%
Reviews:
203
Ratings:
582
From:
Ölvisholt Brugghús
 
Iceland
Avail:
Year-round
Wants
  59
Gots
  61
SCORE
92
Outstanding
LavaLava
Notes: The active volcano Hekla is visible from the brewhouse door and occasionally, eruptions are visible from the Ölvisholt farm. The illustration resembles the view from the brewhouse door when an eruption occurs. Full-bodied, pitch black beer with a dense brown head. Richly flavored with notes of dark chocolate, roasted malt and smoke.
Reviews: 203 | Ratings: 582 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of GarrettB
GarrettB from Colorado

3.34/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

March 24th, 2016 - Bursting with lava on the label, this beer bursts with smoke in the flavor. It's a little bit like Iceland's rauchbier, with a huge puff of smoke in the aroma, and ham, though not as deep as the style it might be imitating. The flavor is a tad sweeter than the aroma, with plenty of smoke and ham here too, but pared back compared to the aroma. The long aftertaste echoes these flavors, but with some mashed pea taste and body, and just a slight flavor of toasted coconut. The flavor is much better than the aroma, though still appreciably smoke riddled.

May 11, 2020
Photo of JonnoWillsteed
JonnoWillsteed from England

4.56/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L- Inky black, not a photon gets through even though the base-corners when held directly in front of a halogen bulb. Pours with 5mm super-fine bubble dark tan head, very slowly receding.
S- Deeply toasty, somewhat smokey molasses. Grains roasted until almost dark - I don't know, but it's pungent.
T- Woah! Ultra toasted, with very heavy layers of smoke flavour and rich strong espresso coffee. There is a distinct richness, it isn't sweetness, but it's perhaps a parallel from the high ABV%. Possibly the biggest flavour (and I mean flavour, not feel or %strength) of any beer I've had. It just bull-dozes across the palate. - Also I want to be clear, I can find zero out of place or out of balance here.
F- It's a beast of a beer. It's clearly more suited to cooler climates and months than hotter climes. To me it's a classic slow-sipping winter-warmer.
O- Wow, mega-smoke, toast, coffee. A huge polished presence. Nothing else I drink tonight will even register on my palate after this monster.
Bought at Reykjavik Duty Free on departure. IsK1499/(£9.80) for a 750ml bottle. BB: 25/June/2022. I'd looked across town to find this during my stay but failed, even at the major downtown liquor store (vinbudin nr the harbour).
p.s. Yes, I intentionally held this one back a week or two so it'd be my 666th rating - it felt appropriate together with the fiery gate to the volcanic fury theme. The empty bottle weighs c600gms, so a full one = about 1.35Kg, plan packing your hand-luggage accordingly! (Apparently such bottles of beer are NOT allowed on departing flights that connect to destination).

Sep 25, 2019
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GuyFawkes from Illinois

4.34/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Midnight black in color.

Khaki head; nice lacing throughout.

Smoky nose, not overbearing. Hint of cream.

Thick mouthfeel; almost like a milkshake.

The taste is very subtle for a smoked beer, letting a mocha latte flavor wash over your tongue. Seriously chocolate-y, cream-y & roast-y. Delicious. Slight booziness on the back end.

I'm blown away.

May 01, 2019
Photo of Zorro
Zorro from California

4.14/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lightproof black colored beer with a small brown colored head.

Smells strongly of berries. Smells boozy and sweet with a strong scent of chocolate syrup. There is a distinct strong raspberry scent. Lesser scents of smoke, coffee and medicine. Intensely aromatic.

Starts out SMOKEY! Very smoky and sweet to start. Mildly sweet with the taste of smoked berries. Mild bitterness but that isn't a big part of the taste. Taste of salt.

Mouthfeel is thick.

Overall a unique beer. Best beer that tastes like smoked berries I have ever had.

Mar 16, 2019
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Beginner2 from Illinois

3.84/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Glad to try my second from Iceland, but I wish my bottle had been younger... or not aged so long on the shelf.
I got a pretty good Looker, black as spades and an inviting foam. Smells told me my copy was different, as the smoke in mine is more subdued than many reviewers indicated. Tastes remind me more of an English Old Ale than a rich RIS; like a blending of a young with an old stout (again, perhaps some deterioration in my copy.) Feel slips further; not chewy, which is the characteristic I usually need to go back to a RIS.

While I'm not keen on spending this much for even a RIS, I'm particularly not keen when I don't get a fresh copy.
But that is no fault of the brewer, who I find interesting. The brewmaster is female and Lava is a game winning cash cow (this RIS has 7 times more BA ratings than Olvisholt's next most rated). And besides, having a volcano in your backyard (or nearly so) is different. My side mission is to try different brewers' wares. And Olvisholt certainly qualifies.

Dec 19, 2018
Photo of Buck89
Buck89 from Tennessee

4.19/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a snifter. An opaque dark brown color with a thick and persistent dark tan head. Chocolate dominated the aroma, but it was nicely complex with some smoke, charred wood, roasted grains, and floral hops. The taste followed this pattern. Great dark chocolate flavor in this beer. The smoke was there but was restrained and supported the roasted notes well. This was all balanced by a firm floral bitterness expected in an RIS. Medium-bodied with a slightly sweet finish. Overall a fantastic beer that went down way too easy.

Sep 09, 2018
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drdiesel9483 from Ohio

4.02/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look - black syrup with no real head
Smell - Smokey toasted malts
Taste - very Smokey, toasted malts slight cocoa
Feel - fairly thin with a light carb
Overall - pretty good if you like smoked beers

Jul 19, 2018
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BenHoppy from Michigan

3.73/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Dark, creamy, and easily drinkable for 9% RIS but smokiness was very mild. I would've preffered a stronger Smokey flavor. Nevertheless best Iceland beer I've had to date.

Jul 08, 2018
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leaddog from Canada (AB)

4.21/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Purchased from the duty free at the airport in Keflavik on a recent trip to Iceland.

Appearance - Pours a dark chocolate brown with two fingers of creamy tan head.

Smell - Roasted malts, earthy and leafy hops, smoky aroma, hint of dark fruits, woody char, and cocoa.

Taste - Smoky roasted malt flavours along with bitterness from the earthy & leafy hops. Lingering bitterness and flavours of smoke/charred wood. Subtle touch of dark fruits.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full bodied with light to moderate carbonation. There is a warmth, I suspect from the alcohol. Smooth finish.

Overall - A well executed RIS that utilizes the smoke flavour to its advantage. Considering that craft beer production in Iceland is still in its infancy, I'm highly impressed by the quality in the execution of this brew.

Jul 08, 2018
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ArrogantB from Colorado

3.78/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle shared by a friend. Dark black, almost no head. Aroma is a tinge of smoke. The smoke dances on teh flavor but there is also a nice malty sweetness to this. I usually do not like smoked beers but this was kind of tasty.

Apr 07, 2018
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Parmesan from Colorado

3.03/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

L: Pours a pitch black color with a small white head and no lacing on the glass.

S: Dark roasted malts, notes of smoke, cherry, stone fruit, and a strong aroma of booze.

T: Booze and cherry is forefront with notes of slightly bitter and earthy smoke in the background. Very little chocolate or roasted malt. Booze is very overwhelming here and leaves the beer very one dimensional.

F: Not as creamy as expected, a bit acidic and cola like carbonation.

O: The booze really takes over this beer and ruins any complexity or flavor development this beer would have.

Oct 29, 2017
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ASoftMachineMan from Florida

4.71/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Purchased from vínbúðin in Reykjavik, poured from bottle to milk glass (no snifter on hand)

Look: Pours dark brown to form a solid black body with a one-finger mocha head.

Smell: Black coffee, peat, and chared hardwood all on the front. Back of the nose is sweet chocolate and malt.

Taste: Very well balanced with sweet malt, peaty smoke, and black coffee all forward with back notes of dark chocolate and and bitter tobacco smoke.

Feel: Medium body with notable carbonation. Mild coating on the tongue.

Overall: A very drinkable and well-balanced imp. stout. Definitely worth the price for any imp. stout fan.

Aug 26, 2017
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SHODriver from North Carolina

4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Poured into a snifter to a deep black topped by two fingers of dense tan head that fade to a collar around the edge of the glass with minimal lacing
S: Smells of smoked malts, charred wood, dark chocolate, and some burnt marshmallows
T: Taste is a little smokey up front with some dark chocolate and charred wood. Slightly meaty with some light coffee and some burnt sugars. Bitter roasted malts toward the end too. Swallow is more smoke, charred wood, and bitter dark chocolate.
M: This beer is fairly full and smooth in the mouth with soft carbonation and a dry finish
O: Overall this one is pretty good. It has some nice smokeyness to it which complements the base beer well. Definitely an interesting take on the style that may not be for everyone.

Jan 25, 2017
Photo of Evilyak
Evilyak from Minnesota

4.19/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

well this one delivers. pours black and inky. smells, and tastes, of smoke and mores smoke. maybe some overly-toasted grain in there too.

i'm not getting all the meat as referenced below - at least nothing porcine. there is what feels like some subtle saltiness. definite sweetness with just a hint of a tang to it.

mouth is creamy, but a bit overwhelming. as you'd expect from the pour, it's viscous and coats your mouth pretty well. booze is well hidden.

Jul 25, 2016
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hoptheology from South Dakota

4.57/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Oil black. Just beautiful. Tons of head.

The aroma has tons of smoke of Rauchbier levels. Lots of meats...salami, smoked pork, dark liqueur.

Taste is the flavor of well-smoked meats, salami, chocolate, milk...just amazingly perfect.

Feel is creamy and large, just doesn't quit.

I'll gladly have more of this if I can find it someplace other than on tap. What a fabulous and amazing beer. Top of its class.

Jun 30, 2016
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cjgiant from District of Columbia

4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On tap:
Near black, if not. Light brown head that I watched build from a lighter tap pull. Creamy cap stares at me a while.

Nose is a nice sweet smoke. Smoked meat, but definitely more like a sweet sausage. Level of smoke rivals classic Schlenkerla smokiness, but the malts come into play yielding a cedar-like note.

Sweetness comes in a slightly burnt caramel note. There's a hint of salinity that may be entirely my perception.

To me, the smoke is strong enough to cross the boundary this beer is straddling. As an RIS, straight up, it's too smoky. As a smoke beer, it's too malty sweet. What to do? Warmth seems to quell the smoke a tad, leading to more generic roasted malts coming out. Sill seems a tad sweet for the style, though. The smoke adds a light saline/cured meat note as well.

Taste reminds me of a fuller, yet sweeter Urbock from the Bamburg brewery I mentioned earlier. Guessing if I did a side-by-side, I'd find Schlenkerla's beer much more smoky. That said, I liked the malt balance against a decent dose of smoke.

Jun 22, 2016
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NilocRellim from Minnesota

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a clear, coffee colour (very black). Smells smokey, burnt grains, and not much else is getting through the intense smokiness. Tastes burnt grains initially, then the warming smokiness slowly build up, with a balanced, smokey/burnt grains finish. Full of flavour, balanced, great beer.

Jun 15, 2016
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ScruffySouthpaw from New York

4.01/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter glass glass.

Appearance: Thick black bodied brew with a dark tan head which is a little weak, with a vigorous pour it rises to about one full finger's length. Settles nicely, and quickly with no lacing.

Smell: Smells like a light charcoal BBQ with lighter hints of malt.

Taste: Unique smoke feel coupled with dark chocolate and wood notes.

Mouth: Medium carbonation at its best, stickiness is just average at best.

Overall: Nice brew might might off a little heavy and feels a bit like a meal. Would have again without hesitation and doesn't really need tweaking, personally I think it's best paired with a meal..:.Salud!

Apr 24, 2016
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Bitterbill from Wyoming

4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitch black with an inch of tannish foam.

Smells smokey as hell with side notes of bitter chocolate and coffee.

Smokey, lots of roasted malt, bitter (dark) chocolate, toffee, not much of a coffee flavour. Pretty boozy.

Full bodied imho but superbly smooth on my palate.

Like a bumped up Alaskan Smoked Porter. I suppose that explains my love for it.

Mar 05, 2016
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ONovoMexicano from New Mexico

4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Impeccable looking beer. Perfect dark khaki head and pitch-black body. 5

Smells of all types of smoke, campfire, smoked ham and bacon and woody mesquite. Awesome. 4.25

All the smokey loveliness I was getting from the nose hits on the taste. There's some dark chocolate that complements things and creamy caramel and vanilla. Earthy hops appear on the finish. 4

There's a bit of a soda-like carbonation to this that upsets the otherwise creamy, viscous and rich body. The feel is plenty smokey, earthy and bitter too. 4

Excellent. This is for the smoke lovers. If you like that in a beer, drink this.

Dec 16, 2015
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DoctorZombies from Florida

3.98/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Black pour with khaki/tan head; ok lace, not much cap or carbonation. Just a whisper of smoke in the nose (I was expecting more...). Subtle smoky and roasted malt flavors up front; bittersweet dark chocolate as the liquid warms; roasted malt finish. Dry, bittersweet medium lite mouthfeel and roasted malt (smoke?) tongue coating. Overall, the dry roast/smoky linger subsumed the underlying dark chocolate flavors.

Aug 09, 2015
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Roguer from Connecticut

4.11/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Beautiful black brew, topped by a sizable mocha head, with very good retention and nice lacing.

Very nice RIS aroma profile: roasted barley, a touch of grapes and dark fruit, a slight hint of sweetness, bittersweet chocolate and coffee, and just a bare hint of smoke.

Flavor follows, with quite a bit more sweetness on the palate, and a very nice complement of smoke on the back half. A little more chocolate, as well.

Medium fullness; very slick, lively, and smooth. Excellent drinkability.

This is a surprisingly nice beer all around. I love the balance of sweetness, roasted barley, and smoke, making for a really great blend of flavors.

Jul 26, 2015
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JuicesFlowing from Kansas

3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an Ommegang goblet.

Look: Espresso coffee blackness with brown barely emerging around the edges. The cream colored head disappears completely, leaving no lacing.

Aroma: That inky, oily black licorice aroma from most imperial stouts emerges immediately. Smokiness is subdued, although it brings out a cooked meat aroma that is not unpleasant by any means.

Taste: Charred grains, roasted malts, smoked meats, and some burnt coffee grounds all come out. The finish is slightly tangy, and as the beer warms more black licorice is present in the finish.

Mouthfeel: A little thin and boozy.

Overall: I suppose. I think the mouthfeel hurt the overall quality, but I did appreciate that the smoke was not palate wrecking.

Jul 04, 2015
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mynie from Maryland

4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Micro Bar in Reykjavik.

Pours dark with a respectable head. Smells of coffee, dark barley, and dry hops. Tastes very similar--dry and roasty, nice firm body with medium complexity.

It more resembles a good American double stout than a Russian Imperial.

Jul 02, 2015
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Huhzubendah from District of Columbia

4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Darrell.

Near black, opaque body with a thin beige head. Smoke, cooked sausage, campfires. Rauchbier character. Nearly 10% abv masked well. Easy drinking. Smooth with low to medium carbonation. Solid beer. Hooray Iceand.

May 29, 2015
Lava from Ölvisholt Brugghús
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 582 ratings