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Lava | Ölvisholt Brugghús

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BA SCORE
91
outstanding
188 Reviews
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BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Ölvisholt Brugghús
Iceland
brugghus.is

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:
555
Avg:
4.09
pDev:
17.36%
 
 
Wants:
60
Gots:
59
For Trade:
2
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Reviews: 188 | Ratings: 555
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 jondeelee
4.29/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Lava opens to a thick, smoky stout aroma that smells heavily of campfire smoke, as well as ash, tobacco, peat, and chocolate malt. The dark, ashy notes are held lightly in check by caramels and toffees, molasses and near-burnt vanilla, as well as thick brown breads and deeply toasted wholegrain bread crust. There are also some lovely fruit esters, including fig, plum, raisin, berry, and prune, lending the beer a sugary underbelly that resembles a cross between a port and a thickly-syruped fruit cocktail. There’s also an alcoholic overtone that resembles a syrupy, sugary ice wine, though with more notes of maple syrup than grape. The aromas increase greatly in this syrupy sweetness as the bottle remains open, until after a few minutes the early campfire smoke and peat notes are almost gone. Overall, the beer smells wonderful, being a battle between heavy maple syrup, concentrated dark fruit extracts, and smoke, and while the sugars are perhaps a bit too strong, they’re still very alluring.

On the tongue, the beer opens with the same heavy campfire smoke, ash, tobacco, and peat note detected on the tongue. These dark, ashy notes are joined almost immediately by vanilla, caramel, toffee, and molasses, as well as the dark fruit esters (fig, raisin, prune, plum, and berry) noted in the nose. Here, however, the ashy, smoky notes don’t fade over time, but keep pace with the sugars for the duration of the mouthful, joined by thick brown breads, rising whole wheat dough, biscuit, and toast crust. In subsequent mouthfuls the sugars to tend to increase in volume, the tawny port and sweet, maple syrup-laden ice wine notes becoming stronger early in the mouthful, but the ashy notes still catch back up as the beer is held on the tongue and the sugars die off. The aftertaste is a continuation of the heavily sweet, campfire notes of the main mouthful, but here the campfire smoke and ash notes grow and grow, until the mouth seems full of blackness, with only a few bits of syrup left for balance. Mouthfeel is medium, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, this is excellent beer, the smoky notes blending well with what is obviously a very nice Imperial Stout in the first place. Fans of the style should definitely make this a must-try.

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Photo of brentk56
4.29/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown capped by a tan head that delivers some decent lacing

Smell: Smells like a campfire with dark bread and roasty malt elements

Taste: Opens with the black bread and caramel flavors that are buttressed, in the middle, by the campfire smoke flavors; big malt and smoked elements in the finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation

Overall: I wouldn't have pegged this as a RIS but really enjoyed the beer and its smoke elements

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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 tigg924
4.3/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: low carbonation, 1/4 inch head, opaque, black in color

Smell: earth, dark and milk chocolate

Taste: dark and milk chocolate--smoke is present throughout

Mouthfeel: sweet and smoky with light bitterness, medium body, moderate carbonation

Overall: Wow. What a pleasant surprise. As a rauchbier fan, this rivals German versions of the style. This one is highly complex and takes the best parts of a RIS as well. I will certainly be looking for this again.

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Photo of thehyperduck
4.3/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

500 mL bottle from the LCBO; best before September 2014. This is the first time I have had a beer from Iceland, not to mention my first true RIS review.

Pours black as night; I can't even make out any twinges of colour under the light. Topped with a luxurious, creamy brown head a little more than a finger thick. Fairly good retention. Rich aroma with roasted wheaty malts, molasses, dark chocolate, figs and some light smoky character. Herbal and a little boozy.

Malt-forward taste with a smooth underlying smoked flavour. Lots of roasted malts on the palate, wheaty with mocha and bittersweet baker's chocolate flavours being prominent. Some herbal anise notes followed by a dry, roasted finish with some warmth from the alcohol. Full-bodied with an amazingly silky-smooth mouthfeel. Leaves a slick feeling behind on the palate. Very soft carbonation.

This is a fabulous stout, and at 9.4% a little too easy to drink. Satisfying and an ideal winter sipper without a doubt; more than complex enough to satisfy most beer geeks, with the perfect amount of smokiness. Much more drinkable than most heavy stouts.

Final Grade: 4.3, this is A-grade material. One of the best stouts I've had in a long time, giving Peche Mortel a good run for its money. Lava is a pricy brew, but worth every penny in my opinion. The LCBO needs to make this an annual import.

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Photo of GodOfBeer
4.3/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a thick black with a nice thick brown head. Very appealing.

Smells smokey upfront, some sweet brown sugar,vanilla and chocolate, pretty complex.

Tastes like it smells, smokey, very medicinal, some chocolate notes, the sweetness really lingers in the aftertaste.

Wonderfully thick mouthfeel and one of the most drinkable Imperial Stouts I've ever had, my god! This is a great smokey RIS.

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Photo of secondtooth
4.31/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep black, with only a slight amount of tan carbonation. Virtually no lace.

Nose is nice smoky malts -- lots of dark chocolate and mocha notes. An appealing amount of smoke, though, is foremost.

Taste is charry and smoky, with some coffee notes popping through. The high ABV (9%) is well submerged, and this is a deliciously complex and enjoyable stout that I'd return to anytime. Loved it!

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Photo of Ozzylizard
4.31/5  rDev +5.4%

$ 11.29/16.9 oz bottle at Vintage Estates, Boardman, OH
Bottle at 45 degrees into imperial pint glass
Aroma of roasted malt, smoke, and bitter chocolate
Head small (1 cm), light brown, fizzy, rapidly diminishing to 2 mm ring
Lacing none
Body dark brown/black, opaque
Flavor of roasted malt and bitter chocolate with a light smoke overlay; no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl
Palate medium to full, creamy, lively carbonation

Appearance 4, Aroma 4.25, Flavor 4.5, Palate 4, Overall 4.1875. Final weighted score: 4.3125
A very pleasant smoked imperial stout. The smoke is not overpowering but complements the roasted malt/bitter chocolate notes. The lack of lacing and rapid depletion of the head detract from the appearance.

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Photo of mintjellie
4.32/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black. Black like basalt. Like obsidian. Appropriate for a beer name after pyroclastic flow. It's tan head is thick and dense, but short lived, leaving little lace behind. Aromas of smoke, espresso, and burnt sugar. Powerful roasted malt flavour. Tastes like black coffee, madeira, molasses, and campfire. Full bodied with low carbonation. Lush, smooth mouthfeel. Excellent.

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Photo of Oakenator
4.32/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a dark black color with some head. Veiled lacing leads to simple spotted.

S: Chocolate with a subtle sweetness.

T: Chocolate sweetness up front leads to a strong smoky flavor on the back. Some spices.

M: Has lots of body - malts provide a richness.

O: Really nice.

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Photo of kwjd
4.32/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pitch black colour with thick tan head that dissipates to a small ring on top of the beer. Some mild lacing around the glass. Smells of deep roasted malt, smoked wood, coffee and chocolate. Nice bitter flavour, some small amount of sweetness. A very well balanced smoke stout, as the smoke compliments the stout flavour instead of dominating it. Smooth mouthfeel. It is impressive that a country that legalized beer just over 20 years ago can have a better imperial stout than any made in Ontario.

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Photo of magictacosinus
4.32/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I had been looking for this beer for as long as I can remember, and I really want to thank my friend for pointing out that Toronado Pub was tapping it, of all places. Poured into a tulip glass.

Pours a thick, charred viscous opaque black color. Literally no light shines through, not even at the liquid's edges when held against the light. There's a nicely toned mocha colored head that graces the top of the glass that's about 1.5 fingers large, but it actually dies down rather quickly and leaves no lacing, no bubbles, and not a ring of head to speak of halfway through consumption. It still maintained an appearance similar to cola, and the thickened feel did indeed fade with the carbonation's disappearance. Not bad, but not necessarily worth raving over.

The aroma makes me forget my disappointment with the beer's looks - this smells very fabulous, and definitely sets itself apart from the average RIS here. Dark chocolate, cherries, raisins, slightly smoked currants, vanilla, coffee, all coated underneath a cake-like batter sugary consistency. Not sure at all how this is "smoked" by any means (although according to the brewers, it is), but I supposed there's a little bit of charred phenols mixing with the sweetened, dark malts - but it's really, really subtle. The juicy, candied dark fruit flavor is not, however, and melded with the vanilla and chocolate, it's truly awesome.

The flavor actually has a lot less of the fruity, sugared consistency in the aroma, but it does take all of those flavors and melds them well rather than in a cloying, overtly sweet manner. There's a lot more of the roasted, slightly smoky character at the front, melding with fresh, jubilant coffee beans, chocolate, vanilla, a slight oaky sensation, and faded but present fruitiness, ranging from the light raisins to cherries. The finish is very calm, with no alcohol bite or burn to speak of. The flavors meld lightly with the dark malts and coffee flavor, and finish in an aftertaste that is only slightly astringent, yet thickened and full-bodied to the point of being a very easy drinking experience. Carbonation is good, despite what happened to the head. Everything is so well balanced here, which is crazy considering this is a big beer. Nothing is too sweet or too bitter, nor too roasted. Simply fantastic stuff.

I'm so glad I was able to find this! It was a great way to have my lunch in the bar with burgers that were cooked next door. The alcohol is well hidden and buzzed me out a bit by the end, but it was super relaxing and easy drinking as any great, strong stout is. Despite its thickness, there's nothing heavy about this, and it stands as a very versatile and flexible beer of its caliber, mainly due to its balanced yet flavorful presentation of ingredients. Awesome find - Iceland should hopefully keep producing more world class stouts like this.

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Photo of Stockgnome
4.33/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is actually a "smoked" imperial stout according to the bottle, something that does come across in the taste - in addition to the sweetness that accompanies each sip. The high alcohol content is well masked and the description of "pitch black" is definitely on the mark.

Although one would expect this to be an excellent winter beer, it was thoroughly enjoyed on a warm summers day - which is certainly something for such a solid thick stout. Perhaps it was the sweetness and near fruit flavor that came through amidst the smokiness. A great combination of tastes and an all around solid beer.

Was purchased at the Bishops Arms in Stockholm, Sweden - which hither to is the only place I have seen it for sale.

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Lava from Ölvisholt Brugghús
4.09 out of 5 based on 555 ratings.
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