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Lava | Ölvisholt Brugghús

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
91
outstanding
188 Reviews
THE BROS
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BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Ölvisholt Brugghús
Iceland | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.40%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by stulowitz on 12-01-2008

BEER STATS
Reviews:
188
Ratings:
553
Avg:
4.09
pDev:
17.36%
 
 
Wants:
60
Gots:
59
For Trade:
2
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
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Reviews: 188 | Ratings: 553
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.29/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is definitely a thick stout. In flavor profile and on the body. There is a good touch of molasses on here, but what I really like most of all is the kind of berry tone that is really showing nicely after a little while of it being opened. The smoke mellows at the same time the berry thing shows up. Body is thick. This beer stays consistent. And I like it a lot. The price point is pretty high, which is somewhat of a discouraging factor, but I am happy to drop the coin.

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Photo of EgadBananas
4.27/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very nice dark, pretty much pitch black, with a medium mocha finger of head. Bubbles were tiny, dissipating fairly quickly, leaving a little bit of lace and a foamy ring.

The aroma is great. Big smoke notes hit you first, quite charred and reminiscent of bacon. There's a fairly pronounced sweet milk chocolate aroma hidden in there, some roasted maltiness and even some touches of espresso.

Again, the smoke hits you first, like a nice BBQ note, with some charred wood. Chocolate sweetness mellows out the smokiness, with some molasses hints and some roasted characters. Finishes slightly peaty.

The feel is really the only aspect that leaves something to be desired. It's got a nice, robust full body, with some creamy textures, but the carbonation is a bit stingy for the style.

The carbonation takes a little away from the drinkability, but it goes down smooth still. You can't taste that alcohol, but you do feel it a bit in the back of your throat.

Overall, this is pretty killer. Smoked Imperial Stouts aren't a dime a dozen, especially from Iceland. And this is very nice one. The smoke never hides itself, yet doesn't overwhelm, while giving the big stout room to make a name for itself too.

Very glad to have found this.

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Photo of mpyle
4.27/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Big dark tan head, creamy and with retention. Beer is opaque.

Sweet, roasty and smokey aroma. Smells of smoked meat.

Big smokey malt flavor initially. Any sweetness is well countered by the smoke and roast. Complex malty/smokey flavor though midmouth. A more assertive bitterness hits late, along with some alcohol flavors. Finishes slightly alcoholic but with a lot of smoke and roast carrying as well.

Fairly big body, low-moderate carbonation. Actually has a gentle creaminess on the tongue, and the alcohol warming in the finish is fairly subdued for the strength.

Smoke beers aren't my thing, but this beer is well made. Nice complexity of flavors, and well-controlled alcohol characteristics. And honestly the smoke is complimentary rather than overpowering. Best Icelandic beer I've ever had!

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.26/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: jet black with a bit of crimson around the edges when held to light. A sparse mocha head.
Smell: as advertised smoke is front and center with a rich semi-sweet chocolate foundation. Pleasant and interesting.
Taste: profile is much like the nose though the layers of smoke and chocolate are more blended.
Mouthfeel: full and creamy.
Overall: really dug this stout. Smoke and chocolate worked. Alcohol is well hidden. Nice job.

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Photo of Rijtjeshuis
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

L ~ this one pours jet black in color and is totally opaque. The head was pretty nice: dark khaki with a touch of mustard in color; it rose up to about three fingers in a snifter off a hard pour; fell at an acceptable rate, but without any major lacing.

S ~ definitely get the smoke on the nose, which adds to what would otherwise be a fairly unexceptional Imperial Stout. In terms of malt, I get the usual characters: roasted barley and black patent coming out at the front line. The roasty/toasty malt notes play very well off of the smokiness that's present. No real fruitness, no real sweeter specialty malts, and a slight hint of earthier hops.

T ~ similar to the aroma. It definitely has the richness and complexity you would otherwise expect an Imperial Stout. Same malt character: black patent and roasted barley coming up front; the finish has a bit of sweeter burnt molasses into the finish. The smoke, which is the major flavor counterpoint to the malt, comes in a bit earlier and this leaves the end not quite as dry as it could have been. No real hop flavor, minimal bitterness (definitely not a US version on the style).

F ~ full body, light carbonation. There was little syrupy feel to the finish; I really get more of a velvet feel to this one. Some mild alcoholic warmth, but this doesn't play all that well with the burnt molasses-like finish.

I've had a good number of Russian Imperial Stouts and I really enjoyed this one. The introduction of smoke to the mix was well balanced and added an interesting component that I hadn't seen before. nicely done!

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Photo of ZorPrime
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Received from Liam in a recent trade. Thanks and cheers Liam!

The color is very very dark black color with a pretty dense foamy head on top of it. Its beige! It disappear quite fast although.

The aroma is superb... its is sweet with some smoked malts and in the back, I get some chocolate notes with some coffee grains. Nice aroma. Pretty intense.

The taste is dominated by smoke. I like smoke, so I like this taste but be prepared... It is not an aggressive beer, not that much bitterness. It is pretty sweet in the mouth too. When cold it is almost thin bodied... as it warms up, it gets more one the medium body beer range. The alcohol is well hidden, too well that it gets to you at the end of the bottle (drank a 500 ml bottle).

This is a pretty decent stout! Thanks Liam!!

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Photo of WeedKing4
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark black with a nice caramal coloured foam, into a brandy snifter glass. Tastes of roasted smoked flavours with some chocolate lingering in there. Drinks down very well and I didn't pick up any hint of the 9.40% alc. Very drinkable stout. Dangerously drinkable for the percentage. Good stout.

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Photo of AltBock
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

16.9oz bottle with a drawing of a volcano erupting at the top and 3 shacks at the bottom of the oval. These little shacks are screwed. Over the drawing is a purple ribbon with the name of the beer. To the right of the drawing is the US Government warning and to the left is a paragraph that has a brief history of the brewery and a short description of the beer. Poured into a Cigar City Snifter.

Imagine starring down into the opening of an inactive volcano. That's how black the color of this beer was. Just pitch darkness. Holding the glass up to the light was a waste if time. There's no way light could penetrate this beer's solid black color. On top of this black brew was a short lived light mocha head of foam. At its height, it was about 1/2 an inch. I guessing the head of foam had somewhere to be so it only stuck around for a few seconds. It only managed to leave behind a faint string of rings and one single spot of lace.

It was smoky, but not Rauchbier smoky. Under the cloud of smoke, I was able to pick up smoked malts, smoked wood, dark chocolate, a hint of roasted coffee beans, smoked meats like bacon, a whiff of green olives, a drop of caramel and toffee, and then the smell finishes up with some dark fruits like plums and raisins. I really enjoyed the aroma. It seemed like there was a new aroma around every corner. The aroma's smoked aspect added a really nice touch.

Not only was the taste smoky, but I also detected some roasted elements in here as well. It was smoky up front. The smoke let through the roasted elements shine through first. In the beginning, there was roasted coffee beans, dark roasted malt, and dark chocolate. After the taste got that our of the way, in comes all the smoke. This part of that taste featured campfire smoke, smoked meats, a little green olive, smoked wood, smoked hops, and then the taste ended with a subtle dark fruitiness. The roasted flavors couldn't control the beer's smoked flavors. Smoky, but not overly smoky.

The mouthfeel was medium to full bodied, chewy, and with a full flavored smoky aftertaste. You'll find more smoky flavors like smoked wood, campfire smoke, smoked meats, roasted coffee beans, and dark chocolate. The smoke was so thick that it will take a few glasses of water to wipe clean your mouth of this smoke.

A smoked Imperial Stout from Iceland? That sounds like an experiment or a novelty beer. It is not any of those! It's truly a really good Imperial Stout. It has a little uniqueness to it that separates it from everybody else's Imperial Stout. The only problem I found with this beer was the steep price. It was in the $10-$13 range for this 16oz bottle. If you want to try an Imperial Stout that's a little unique, pry open your wallet for this winner.

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Photo of Kartoffeln
4.23/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a dark, opaque mahogany-black with a modest but dense head of dark tan fizz. Decent retention, dissipating to a bubbly ring and leaving scant spots of lacing.

S: Chocolate and black malts and roasted barley mingle with a potent birch smoke note and undertones of black coffee and cinder toffee. Just a hint of charcuterie and ethanol.

T: Rich chocolate and black malts with notes of caffe mocha, molasses, and baker's chocolate. Mild smokiness throughout, and a plummy dark fruit note partway through. Faint, woody hops and a bit of a lactic tang in the finish with some slight, warming booziness.

M: Full-bodied with very mild carbonation and a thick, silky-smooth texture. The hops are mild but make for a surpisingly dry finish and excellent balance overall.

D: Overall an excellent RIS with an especially aromatic smokiness that blends seamlessly into the complex palate. A well-rounded and distinctive example of the style well worth trying.

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Photo of Stocean1
4.22/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a half finger beige head on a deep brown body quickly dropping to a thin film. A little patchy lacing yet still a pleasant looking brew.

Smell is burnt malt, vanilla, dark fruit, and some ethanol

Taste follows the nose with a nice woody smokiness. Some chocolate and coffee notes. Not nearly as sweet as I expected.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with a little carbonation to balance it out, nice amount of bitterness yet it is still smooth and almost creamy - definitely felt a nice warming as I progressed through the put.

Very nice RIS I will sample again while stocks last.

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Photo of alexgash
4.21/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

500 ml bottle.

Inky dark brown body. Viscous. Pinkie finger of tiny-bubbled, whipped, peanut brown head. Great lacing. Charred barley, mocha coffee, light molasses, figs, tobacco, a little chocolate, and light campfire smoke.

Roasted coffee bitterness starts off. Dark chocolate and sweet caramel fill in. Milk chocolate and molasses show up. Earthy, with notes of tobacco, licorice, and flint near the finish. Faint peaty smokiness. Finishes with lingering herbal bitterness, caramel, and dark chocolate. Medium-full body with a slightly oily feel. Nice.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle, courtesy of tbeckett - Skál! Nice label imagery of what I imagine most people think of when pressed to describe Icelandic topography (but perhaps not iconography).

This beer pours a solid black, with very slight mahogany edges when offered to the light, and two swathed fingers of thin foamy mocha head, which displays fairly stolid retention, eventually leaving a low ebbing glacier profile of lace around the glass. It smells of roasted malt, with a subtle smokiness, that seems innocuous when mixed with some tart fruitiness, milk chocolate, and earthy dark, sugary molasses. The taste is big bittersweet chocolate, some sharp toasty graininess, more sour dark fruit, this time ankle-deep in a kiddie pool of warming alcohol, and dry black licorice adding further to the mire. The carbonation is quite sedate, the body an agreeable medium weight, and smooth, and bordering on creamy. It finishes sweet, the graininess and chocolate interwoven, with a bit of understated, latent smoke to bring us full circle from the Arctic Circle...

After having viewed a few documentaries about the pungency of smoked fish/alcohol/atmosphere from Iceland, I was a wee bit trepidatious about this brew. Turns out, I had nothing to fear - just a lovely multi-layered, heavy without the weight (?), big-ass RIS. From a place that should know about this kind of elixir, I'm so glad they get it right.

 1,401 characters

Photo of rarbring
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer is pitch dark, almost oily, a brown head, leaving little lacing but some curtains.

The smell is roasted malts, dark bread, burnt wood and smoked sausage.

Starting with a sweet taste, Madeira, then dark bread, and chocolate and coffee beans. The finish is bitter.

Low carbonation, a complex beer, smooth and harsh.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first Icelandic beer, and one I've been wanting to try for a while. Quite an interesting beer- very dry, but big, and with a pronounced smokiness that is subtle enough to play well with the roastiness, licorice, and chocolate notes and noticeable enough to provide a unique element to the stout. There is also a nice ashiness that works well with the smoke. Lava indeed. Very nice.

 384 characters

Photo of ThatWineGuy
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tar black beer with a foamy mocha head that took a while to die down, this beer catches no light. Smell of roasted malts, smoke, burnt coffee beans, bakers' chocolate, quite nice on the nose. Alcohol very well handled, this beer has a chocolate bitterness with a touch of sweetness, tons of toasty roasted malts, nice interplay of flavours pleases the palate A long lingering finish, burnt coffee and bitter chocolate pleases. Body in keeping with the style, weighty and substantial, this RIS impressed me and I'd certainly buy more for the holiday season; for those times around the fireplace when a simply refreshing beer won't do.

 633 characters

Photo of jpro
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle from CBX. Poured into an Old Rasputin shaped pint glass...

A: Pours black; light tan head (two-finger), leaves a nice ring of retention, but no lace.

S: Black patent malt; sweet; smoke - a lot of smoke.

T: Super smoky; mesquite; roasted malt; some caramel notes smooth things out on the end... the smoke lasts, though.

M: Full; creamy; moderate-high carbonation; sticky.

O: Smokiest beer I’ve ever had - hands down; pretty tasty, even though its on the extreme end of smoked beers; I’d have it again.

*from notes (6-15-12)

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Photo of SolipsismalCat
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter.

A: Pitch black with a one-and-a-half-finger, tan, creamy, foamy head that lasted a couple minutes. Pretty good lacing.

S: Coffee and bittersweet chocolate.

T: Moderate sweetness and light bitterness. Dark chocolate and coffee. Really (really) smokey finish - it actually does taste like beef jerky as others have mentioned.

M: Medium bodied with fizzy carbonation. Creamy.

O: I like the look and smell of this Russian Imperial and the smokey was flavor was interesting.

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Photo of fourstringer
4.19/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 0.5L bottle into a Brewer's Art goblet. Moderate hand. Stamped a cryptic 20:59C3L038/12.

A: Very dark brown body on the pour and opaque black in the glass. 1/2 finger of mocha-colored head. Ok retention. Light lacing.

S: Roasted malts with notes of woody smoke, toasted almonds, dark chocolate, coffee. Trace raisin.

T: Tangy, smoky malts open and persist throughout. A touch of bacon at times. A cacao-type bitterness slowly builds to a fairly dry finish. Alcohol presence is well hidden for 9.4% ABV. Lingering tobacco, dark chocolate, roasted malt and smoke in the aftertaste.

M: Moderate carbonation with a medium body for style. Slightly prickly, but overall nice.

O: Nicely balanced imperial stout with a tasteful degree of smoke. Rich, but very drinkable. Color me impressed.

Prost!

 836 characters

Photo of Evilyak
4.19/5  rDev +2.4%
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.

 459 characters

Photo of NilocRellim
4.18/5  rDev +2.2%
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.

 291 characters

Photo of soju6
4.18/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: 500 ml bottle. Pours an almost black color with a small tan head and bits of lacing.

S: Aroma of roasted malt, dark chocolate, some coffee and just a bit of smoke.

T: Taste of roasted malt, almost burnt, dark chocolate some coffee, bit of caramel sweetness and a trace of smoke. Has a distinct bitterness and a dry finish.

F: Fully body, smooth with a rich texture. A well crafted beer, with the 9.4% ABV very well hidden.

Excellent beer. I did not associate world class beer with Iceland until now.

 510 characters

Photo of shivtim
4.18/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Found on tap at Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia. Served in a tulip. Very dark, opaque black with a slight deep brown head. Looks great. Good lacing.
Nose is intense campfire smoke. Strong malt and molasses. More smoked goodness. Taste is similar... fantastic smoke flavor, strong malt. Very good.
Mouthfeel is foamy and rich. Great beer all around. Would definitely get this again.

 377 characters

Photo of tone77
4.17/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a brown 16.9 oz. bottle. Has a black color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is very smoky, some roasted malts. Taste also has a considerable amount of smoke, some chocolate, roasted malts, complex and full of flavor. Feels full bodied in the mouth and overall is defiantly worth a try.

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Photo of biegaman
4.17/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Lava looks less like lava and more like the ash that it's sure to leave behind; it is completely charred and blackened and no longer displays even a single twinkle of colour or sign of life. The liquid looks so dense I'm surprised it can slide down the glass. Despite promising signs earlier, there is not a bubble nor thread of foam anywhere on the surface or glass.

As if the near double-digit alcohol and the words "imperial stout" written on its label weren't enough to convey that this is a beer to be slowly savored on a cold winter's night by the fireplace, the fact that it actually smells a little like a fireplace should be enough for even the dimmest person to get the idea. (By the same logic, it also kind of smells like smoked meat so I suppose you could feel free to drink it at your local deli too.)

But I digress. Emphasizing the smoke is the wrong way of going about this review - unless I emphasize the *integration* of the smoke within the balance of the beer's other attributes. Yes, that antibacterial layer of absorbed smoke is present and highly perceptible, but so too are the dark malts and the hints of chocolate and coffee that they pass on. Truthfully, however, this isn't the most complex nor flavourful imperial stout I've tried...

But, because it has the smoke, that fact is considerably disguised and easily forgotten. This is the second such 'smoked imperial stout' I've had lately and I must confess: I think it's a brilliant idea and an innate match - better even than peanut butter and jelly! The smokiness of the roasted malts dissolves seamlessly into the actual smoke, the woody dryness of which is nothing but harmonious with the dry, bitter chocolate notes and fruity alcohol esters.

I'd be lying if I said I knew much about Iceland, or that I could pronounce even a word in that crazy language of theirs, but I do know this: Ölvisholt Brugghús is one of the most promising and impressive new breweries I've come across this year and must be - I'd wager anything - the best brewery on the island. If you have the chance, do support them.

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Photo of Beer_HOPper
4.16/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On Tap at 38 Degrees poured into a goblet. I wanted to try something else besides my usual Pliney. So, the server recommended this, not the bartender.

Appearance: Very dark brown to black, 1 finger head and some lace, looks delicious.

Smell: smoke, nuts, malt, was hard to detect.

Taste and feel: sweet, smoky chocolate syrup, no carbonation, medium body, smoke lingers into finish, a little creamy made this seem thick, a slight bitter finish. After settling for 10 minutes, the smoke really comes out, reminds me of Islay Scotch whisky. I was shockingly surprised, unique!

Overall: this was like drinking a very good, sweet & smoky BBQ steak sauce. An end of night beer, one and done in a good way.

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Lava from Ölvisholt Brugghús
91 out of 100 based on 188 ratings.
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