Lava | Ölvisholt Brugghús

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188 Reviews
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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:
554
Avg:
4.09
pDev:
17.36%
 
 
Wants:
60
Gots:
59
For Trade:
2
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Reviews: 188 | Ratings: 554
Photo of fostachild
3.99/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

picked up at an lcbo, best before: 14.09.2013. pours a really dark colour with a decent tan/brown head. didn't retain much lacing.

smokey coffee/mocha in the smell - quite nice.

taste bitter and alcoholic at times. the chocolate and coffee flavours were great. good carbonation - drinkability was okay. nice strong stout.

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Photo of hagbergl
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a 1 pint 9 oz. bottle of Lava Smoked Imperial Stout at the Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont, MA. Split the bottle with my stout enthusiast girlfriend. As usual, I drank this black nectar from my trusty Dogfish Head signature snifter.

Appearance (4/5): Lava pours a one and a half finger, tan-colored head that sits atop a body of motor oil black beer. I think stouts look great in stemmed glasses; this beer is no different and looks just outstanding. Very nice.

Smell (4/5): Lava smells heavily of smoked malt, though this isn't the only aroma emanating from the glass. Notes of chocolate, dark fruits, and only a slight bit of alcohol can be picked up, as well. So, the smoked malt, while dominant in the nose, mixes well with aromas more characteristic of traditional Russian Imperial-style stouts. I like that Lava is a different and unique-smelling stout, and for that it gets a bump in the smell category, but it's not close to the best Russian Imperial Stouts--one of the best smelling style categories in all of beerdom, in my humble opinion.

Taste (4/5): As with the nose, smoked malt dominates the taste of Lava. I can taste a smokiness from the smoked malt, and it is very pleasantly reminiscent of that beautiful scent given off by meat cooking on a grill...nice. I also pick up more traditional RIS flavors like chocolate, coffee beans, dark fruits, and a hint of alcohol that makes itself known moreso with a warming effect in the finish. I appreciate that the brewers didn't make this a booze bomb--while heavy ABV brews can be great, too much of an alcohol presence has been the downfall of many an imperial/double stout. The flavor is very nice and certainly unusual. It tastes like a cross between a German Rauchbier and a RIS and it's a very favorable fusion indeed. While this isn't the best tasting stout in the world, it gets a bump for being unusual and memorable.

Mouthfeel (4/5): mouthfeel on this beer is medium-thick, though not overly viscous like some stouts. It sits pleasantly on the tongue, and the smokiness of the beer does not have an adverse effect. I would say Lava strikes a good balance for an imperial stout and successfully avoids some of the problematic characteristics of heavy stouts--syrupy viscosity in the mouthfeel being one. Mouthfeel is, overall, very good.

Overall (4/5): Lava is, simply put, very good beer. It is a delicious, not overly complex new spin on a familiar style. (you don't have to add all sorts of strange ingredients to make a beer unique and memorable.) I enjoyed the smokiness of the beer very much, though I was not sure at first how well it would work with a beer brewed in the RIS style. It turned out to work great; Lava is actually quite well balanced and complex, and is not simply a smoked malt delivery system. I think anyone who enjoys imperial stouts but may be looking for something a bit different to give Lava a spin.

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Photo of Brenden
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is a thick inky black, perhaps some light creeping in just at the edges, very much appropriate for the style. A nice, compact but fairly sizable tan head displays good retention and leaves equally good lacing on the glass.
Peat and smoke lie in the foreground the whole way without detracting from the nature of the brew as an RIS or going charred or astringent. It's just a nice addition of smoke in an otherwise good stout, with all the bigness the style should have. It's not as huge, bold and heavy as its American counterparts, but it's very balanced without lacking. Malts lay a solid backbone with a roasty element and never fade. It offers the dark cocoa notes I would expect with a touch of dark fruits.
This beer is full-bodied but not too heavy. Some may want an RIS to go down like molasses and sit like a cement block, but this beer offers a nice, even, balanced, smooth feel.

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Photo of joemcgrath27
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

big ups to BA andrenaline for including this in a trade
A - jet black with a thumb of mocha head that retained at a thin covering, thin line of consistent lacing
S - peaty and smoky dominant, roasty and chocolate aromas in the background
T - WOW, a total smoke show, peat and charcoal with big roasty and mocha maltiness, a touch of sweetness on the tail end
M - relatively light for a stout, smooth with some prominent ABV warmth with a little bite, finishes with a dry charred feel
O - it delivers on all three descriptors: Smoked, Imperial, and Stout. Glad I had a chance to try this one, a treat for sure

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Photo of eat
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good cover of mocha-coloured head. Black, opaque and viscous body. Head fades to a sparse cover.

Smells like smoke, minerals, very roasted malt and a little molasses with some soily hops.

Tastes of dark hops with bits of caramalized banana, smoked salmon and slight coffee. Dry cocoa on the finish with some warming alcohol. The balance is a little off but it maintains some definite interesting quality. Unique for sure.

A decently viscous stout. Medium-thick body with moderate carbonation...maybe a little too much carbonation for a stout of its size.

This stuff is pretty interesting. Quite drinkable and I'd be happy to buy some more of this stuff. I'd be interested to try it aged. I can't imagine there would be many better brews than this one coming out of Iceland. Impressive for such an obscure beer destination and especially as a pretty new take on the style for my palate.

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Photo of Samp01
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle. A deep dark black with a slowly dissipating brown head. Aroma of dark roasted malt, caramel, some mild dark fruit with a deep smoked essence. Taste is sweet dark roasted malt, some caramel ad mild dark fruity favors with a very distinct smoked flavor and mild bitterness. Palate is medium to full body, slightly creamy and oily with moderate carbonation. Finishes with a dark roasted caramel malt, dark fruit, ending with lingering bitter sweet smoked flavor and some alcohol. Smoked flavor and aroma are stronger as it warms up. Overall a very good, flavorful brew, very nice.

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Photo of peabody
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out coffee black with just a hint of off-white suds. Lacing here.
Smell is nutty chocolate and coffee with a slight yeast/alcohol burn in the nose.
Taste is smokey for sure but not a fake smoke/liquid smoke. The alcohol is hidden very well here.
Mouthfeel is very clean after the smoke leaves the palate.
Overall I like this RIS and usually I don't like smoked anything. I have only tried Smoked Porters and this is my first Smoked RIS. Pretty nice except for the cost. 10 bucks for a pint.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Poured into a snifter.

3.5 A: Black color. Just about one finger of frothy medium brown head. Retention is a touch below average and just a few wisps of lacing are left.

4.25 S: The smoke in this is just great. It offers both the porcine meatiness and the campfire thing. Quite earthy with a big mineral component. Tangy molasses and dark fruits. Underneath is the typical chocolate, coffee, and caramel. Just a touch of char as well.

4.0 T: Much like the nose. Smoke again leads the way as described above. Strong mineral earthiness. Chocolate and caramel come to the forefront to join the molasses. On the drier side for a beer this big. Coffee and a light char aftertaste to round it out.

3.75 M: Not quite as viscous as I would have guessed. Heavier medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Lightly creamy and super smooth. The booze is barely detectable.

4.0 D: Good beer all around. Pick it up if you stumble upon it like I did.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours an opaque almost jet black in color with some light hints of reddish brown when held up to the light. The beer has half finger tall beige head that quickly reduces to a thick ring around the edges of the glass and a couple of patches. Significant lacing is observed.

S: The aroma has quite a bit of smoke in it along with some charred woods, toasted/roasted malts, and some light bittersweet chocolate.

T: Lots of roasted and toasted malt flavors up front along with some sweetness, then the smoke flavors come in and leave a wonderful lingering bitterness. Some very light hints of bittersweet chocolate.

M: Full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation.

O: Slightly light in the body for a Russian imperial stout but a really enjoyable beer with very nice smoke hints which do not overpower the flavors. The beer has a pretty high ABV but no hints of the alcohol in the aroma or flavor. A great sipping beer and as someone born in Iceland, really happy to have found a good beer to sample from the country.

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Photo of jdhilt
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a three finger brown head that fades quickly leaving some lace. Midnight black color, no highlights. Light-medium carbonation and heavy bodied. Smoky, chocolate nose and flavor is similar smoky baked chocolate malts. Best so far from Iceland. $11.30 for a 500ml bottle from Tully's Beer and Wine Wells, Me.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

My first Icelandic find is a smoked stout? Sometimes fortune does indeed smile upon us tickers... Anyway, this stuff pours a straight obsidian topped by a strong finger of light sienna foam. The nose comprises dark smoke, roasted malts, and what may or may not be some dark coffee. The taste brings in more of the same, though now the darkness beneath the smoke is more varied: roasted malts, molasses, coffee, and dark chocolate. Combined with the dark, almost peat-y smoke, this is one of the blackest, most metal beers that's ever graced my tongue. The body is a strong medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a drying finish. Overall, a nice, deep, dark smoked stout, one certainly worthy to bear the name of such a powerful manifestation of our planet's inner mechanisms.

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Photo of avalon07
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a jet black color and a thick, impenetrable texture. There was an inch of creamy, tan-colored, fairly long-lasting head. Average lacing.

S: An interesting aroma of dark fruit, chocolate, malt and a smoky quality.

T: Tasted of dark chocolate, roasted malt, dark fruit (plums), and the smoky quality. Surprisingly, not a coffee presence in the flavor (not a bad thing). A slightly more subtle, well balanced taste.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a slick finish. Medium- to full-bodied.

O: A well made, slightly different Russian Imperial Stout. Very drinkable.

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Photo of DoubleJ
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Showing some Brazilians that there was craft beer available to purchase from Iceland, we took the plunge and added a bottle to our purchase and later tasted. From a 500 ml bottle, on to the beer:

No surpise, black is color of this Icelandic stout. Next....the smell. Licorice and a touch of cocoa hit, and surprising a smokiness that reminds me more of smoked Gouda cheese than smoked meat. The taste does follow much like the taste, with a few subtle changes. Licorice is still the main theme of the beer, roasty and cocoa notes hitting around. The smoked gouda note is replaced of a vague yet still appetizing soft smoked note. A thick stout being nearly heavy bodied, which you can attribute to the 9.4% ABV, but you'd be hard pressed to find much of it as it's hidden well.

Volcanoes and a serious banking crisis have put Iceland on the map in recent years. With Einstok and Olvisholt exporting beer to the US recently, perhaps it's time to add craft beer to the list.

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Photo of PeterIngemi
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pourd from a 22oz bottle... Into a shipyard tulip.

A: pours a nice dark black with traces of dark brown when held to light... Nice almost finger of micha creamy head, dissapates slowly. Looks very nice... But not much lacing...

S: like campfire, and almost marsh mellowness. Light bacon.. Black coffee ... Black licorice. A very interesting nose.... Not as overwhelmingly smoky as I expected... Which is a good thing for me.

T: much light the nose.... Campfire, char, but not overwhelimg.... A bit of bacon, a sweetness like black licorice with notes of burnt coffe rines and dark chocolate.... Nicley complex.

M: medium bodied and slick, oily, very well rounded ... Low carbonation.... The thing i like about this is that the smoke ends nicley at the end of the beer and you aren't left with a intensely smoky, lingering aftertaste.

O: a good beer, I am not a huge fan of smoke beers, but this is not
Overwhelimg, I could see how if you were a fan of this style this would be an excellent brew... And I could see how this beer would be exceptionally good for food pairings.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark black with a hint of brown and a finger of frothy khaki-chocolate head. Fades fairly slowly.

S - Roasted chocolate and caramel malts, smoke, vanilla, molasses, black licorice, dark cocoa, coffee, dark fruits, and a bit of booze.

T - Chocolate and caramel malts, smoke, vanilla, black licorice, molasses, dark cocoa, roasted coffee, dark fruits, earthy hops, and a bit of booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Smooth with a sweet, smoky, warming finish.

D - Nice smoked stout. Good overall balance and mouthfeel.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

my first icelandic beer, cool! good stuff too. it pours a cloudy chocolate brown color with a fair bit of carbonation creating a two inch off white head. its got a nice smokey malt smell, with some cocoa and clever yeast behind it. almost smells like a s'more. the taste isnt as sweet at the nose. the smoke flavor is pretty pronounced, and the chocolate from the nose comes through in the taste as well. the alcohol taste is pretty strong here, but it cuts through the thick smokey malt flavor nicely to leave a reasonably clean finish for a beer of this style. the feel is a little over carbonated at first, but it settles down as it warms. the body is huge, made bigger by the yeast sediment, but i had no problem with a bomber of this. id be curious to try more beers from iceland, hopefully they wont be as expensive as this one was. thats the only reason i wouldnt buy this again.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood I, the first Icelandic beer I've ever been able to buy in the US,

A: Pours very black with a full tan head, good lace and retention.

S: Definite smokiness, peaty malt, with some light dark fruit, orange.

T: Lots of dark malt and chocolate, some dark fruit. Rich and full-flavoured.

M: Full-bodied, soft carbonation, nice body weight, nice aftertaste.

O: A very well made smoked Imperial Stout. The flavours are very good, the price is a problem, but in the end this is a good beer.

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Photo of liamt07
4.01/5  rDev -2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from the LCBO, into a snfiter. Best before date of September 2013.

Pitch black in the snifter, with several fingers of creamy khaki head. Nose of smoked dark chocolate, roastiness and a hint of coffee. Taste is a heavy bitter dark chocolate and smoke, both of which dominate the palate. A bit of vanilla and brown sugar sweetnesss comes in around the late-middle/end of the mouth along with a hint of the alcohol. The alcohol is more pronounced as it warms. Thick and full body, really how I like my imperial stouts. A tad more than a sipper, but smooth going down regardless. Nice surprise to have picked this up.

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.01/5  rDev -2%
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!

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Photo of Mebuzzard
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Andre for pointing this one out on his shelf. I bought it. I drank it. I liked it.

Dark pour; ruby/brown/black. Huge off-brown/tan head. Rocky and sticky. Pretty good lacing. Looks great.

Oh, snap! It's smoky. Didn't know this. A smoked stout? Ok. So, aroma is smoky, dark fruit. Raisin. Cherry wood

Flavor is up front smoked malt. Umami and cherry wood campfire. Raisins again. Some sweet chocolate is a welcomed addition. This beer has all the makings of a campfire storytelling adventure. It's smooth and warming. The abv is high and not all hidden. Sweet on the end, but the smoke keeps it from getting too rich.

a darn good beer from Iceland

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Photo of andrenaline
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes... A surprising find at the local LCBO as part of their winter seasonal release.

A - Pours pitch black, two fingers of dark mocha head with solid retention and sheeting lacing. Very appetizing.

S - Smoked wooden peat, with hickory and spicy mesquite smoke coming through, dark chocolate, espresso, malted milk and a hint of vanilla.

T - Loaded with smoke, reminiscent of a rauchbier, strong mocha chocolate flavours, loads of peat, quite rich and has a sweeter characteristic that lingers. ABV is almost undetectable.

M - Thicker bodied, chewy, syropy, smooth and a touch of dryness.

O - A tasty and bold offering from a country that I had no idea exported their beers. Definitely a worthy offering and a very unique experience with loads of memorable flavours.

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Photo of OldGrowler
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A pretty little beer, auburn-black with a transient caramel head. Malty and pleasant, despite moderate bitterness. Although the flavors aren't especially complex, it's very drinkable and skilfully hides the 9.4%. Slight metallic aftertaste. Starts on a fruity note, ends on a smokey almost-meaty one, mmm.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
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.

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Photo of Beer-A-Lot
4.04/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served on tap at Birch.

A - Beautiful head. Nice black color.

S - Burnt roasted smells, subtle, appealing.

T - Taste is of burnt, roasted flavors, woody.

M - Full bodied, very nice.

O - A very nice, tasty RIS. Will drink again if I have the chance.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.04/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Hello Iceland! Welcome to the craft beer scene. And you do so with aggression, boldness, and masculine qualities. ...I like it!

Their Lava Imperial Stout pours with a rich and lumbering patience. Dark (lack of) color is the deepest of brown that black hues pronounce. Largely oqaque, the dark beer impedes any light. Its patient and light carbonaiton slowly releases a skirt of foam that looks like coffee creme after the beer settles. Light lacing leaves random pockets of foam on the glass in its wake.

Strong smoke rises to the nose and strikes the olfactory senses with as much of a sense of barbecue as it does stout. But at its core, the scent of strong roast coffee, bitter chocolate, and walnut woodiness provide the supporting aromas that prop up the smoky cloud.

But flavors take a different turn- the taste of French-pressed coffee, chocolate and walnut command the taste, while reigning in the smoke flavors to the point where only moderate nuances reside. Sure the smoke makes its mark with an overall meaty taste, but its succulence brings rise to the choco-coffee blend that so irresistible. Bittered with as much roasted grain as hops, the finish culminates with a toasty-dry taste and semi-ashy dryness.

Full bodied early, the beer quickly digresses to moderately weighted texture that resembles apprehensive lightness in middle palate nearly causes the beer to seem light or thin. But just enough soft malt structure carries the beer to its powdery finish of pleasant warmth, semi-dryness, and smooth bite.

Lava is an exceptional beer, but you have got to like those campfire flavors and aromas from start to finish. Its level of smoke rivals traditional German rauchbiers, but fold in the complexities of imperial stout at every turn. It's not fore everyone. But for those savory freaks like me, this beer is built for me!

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