Sea Monster Imperial Stout | Ballast Point Brewing Company

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Sea Monster Imperial StoutSea Monster Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States | website

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our Sea Monster Imperial Stout explores the darkest reaches of the traditional oatmeal stout. This bold, rich brew first lures you in with roasted coffee notes, then grabs hold with hints of bittersweet chocolate and currant. Backed with a perfect hop balance, you’ll soon discover this is one monster of mythic proportions.

Added by OlieIPA on 11-28-2008

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Reviews: 507 | Ratings: 1,823
Photo of TheBrewo
4.19/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

We unleash the beast from a bottle of their 2011 stock, pouring a brew of the darkest browns into our Founders snifters. It holds a massive and active three finger head of hot cocoa colored bubbles on a rough pour, showing insane retention. Thick and reticular sheets of lacing are left around the glass they pop away. No haze or sediment is noted, and carbonation appears to be robust. The aroma gives chocolatey and coffee malts, with a lightly charred, smoky backbone. Tinny metallics, wax, lavender florals, chalky yeast, fumy booze, licorice, mildly citric hops, candied malted milk balls, milky creaminess, molasses, dark cherry sugars, oily brown malts, and toffee sweetness fill the space between. Our first impression is that the sweetness is deliciously deep with chocolates through the malts, with a wonderfully smooth and creamy feel. As we sip, the taste begins with chocolate wafer cookies, salty molasses, vegetal seaweed, milk and dark chocolate syrups, roasty coffee and brown malts, light char, light leathers, parsnip rootiness, chalk, black cherry sweetness, bittered coffee acidity, and faint banana fruitiness. The middle comes to a peak with enhanced sweetness of toffee and brown sugar, coffee cake breadiness, green leafy vegetals, mild vinegar acidity, alcohol, black coffee bite, and spice of black pepper and jalapeno heat. The end comes with cloying coffee and chocolate malt sweetness, coconut fruitiness, chocolate fudge sugars, pseudo-oaky depth, curiously cooked caramel Belgian maltiness, vanilla pudding, boozy bite, plums, dates, figs, and dark cherries. The aftertaste breathes of coconut milk, roasty coffee, brown, and chocolate malts, red cherry sweetness, lactic acidity, alcohol, gritty chocolate nibs, dusty gravel, phenolic plastics, and white sugar. The body is full, and the carbonation is medium, but prickly. Each sip gives smooth and silky slurp, froth, and cream, with nice following smack and pop. The mouth is thickly coated with slick oiliness, leaving savory salivation and light astringent chalkiness. The abv is appropriate, and the beer sips nicely.

Overall, the thing we liked best about this brew was its flavoring. This exhibited a nice blend of chocolates, vanillas, booze, and fruit, going both with and atop a hearty, roasty, sweeter malt base. The aroma begins things in a similar fashion, with evenness that betrays the inherent abv hidden within. The flavoring does the same, with much of the aforementioned flavors masking anything offensive. This feel lends general softness and slurpability, aiding drinkability, as if it needed it in the first place. This is a hearty brew, and it would definitely be best to find a companion to share it with. Yet another impressive, and varied offering from Ballast Point, who seem to be able to execute any style with their own unique flair and ease.

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Photo of pat61
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%

Nose: fruit – prune, raisins, some roast and a hint of chocolate at the attack.
Pours deep, deep brilliant brown, under a 1/2" tan head
A big roast coffee palate up with an initial sweetness front backed by bittersweet chocolate highlighted by creamy smoothness. In the finish there is some hop bitterness hiding behind the roast and bittersweet chocolate. Lingering roast and bittersweet chocolate.
Very creamy, chewy, fine carbonation. Warming.

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Photo of daveytheformer
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

into a snifter

Pours brownish black with a bubbly tan head that turns into some solid lacing.

Smells like roasted malts, light chocolate, vanilla and some earthiness.

Tastes are similar with coffee, strong malt presence, and a pretty noticeable bitter hop aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is full and well carbonated.

Overall is really good and I would buy another one given the chance.

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Photo of emerge077
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On the sweet/chocolate syrupy end of the spectrum. Light-sucking black body, generous tan foam that puffs above the rim of the glass. Delicate lacing all around, it looks very appetizing. Slick and rich chocolate notes, slight fruitiness, sticky molasses and brown sugar.

Full and rich, palate coating. Finishes dry and slightly bitter, with delicate Belgian chocolate traces. The initial flavor is much more of a sweet fudgy blast to the senses. Light hop bitterness in the back, not a trace of 10%. The fruity element gives it something unique, and it's very well crafted. Something special to savor.

Thanks to Jason for this one!

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Photo of DrinkSlurm
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from tap at the Lazy Boy, White PLains, NY. Poured a thick foamy tannish head on top of a deep rich black. Nice roasted malt and coffe aroma, slight sweet notes. Taste is immediately very hoppy for a stout...really surprising but delicious. The hops meet a mellow roasted coffee and sweet malt flavor; almost a bit of dried fruit. Really well balanced and unique, and deff worth picking one up!

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Photo of wethorseblanket
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours black with a small tan head leaving spotty traces of lace.

S: Roasty malt, sweet chocolate, dark coffee.

T: Chocolate malts, roasted coffee, dark chocolate. An earthyness followed by vanilla, and a oak wood char.

M: Rich, chewy, thick and dry on the finish.

O: Nothing particulary amazing here, just very solid and worth the price.

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Photo of cbutova
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

A- Pitch black with a light cream-tan head that has good retention. Sticky suds and a coat of moderately thick lace, nice tan cloud re-establishes itself on each sip.

S- Dark roasty malt and dark cocoa up front with some slight caramel and alcohol. Good but not great strength. Some grainy oat. Earthy grassy hops round out the flavor for a good RIS base.

T- Nice dark roast malt and cocoa. Some harshness from the malt and a bit of alcohol but this is nice in RIS. A good amount of hops which are earthy in flavor. Oats are there. Simple but good straight up RIS. Also get some dark fruit flavors towards the end.

MF- Moderately thick, oily body with low carbonation. Somewhat creamy. A coat of cocoa malts and earthy hops stays on the palate.

DB- Had it a few times. A good blend of common RIS flavors, straight up with no fancy additions. Nice balance. Not too expensive or horribly limited to find, good stuff.

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Photo of PicoPapa
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle. Pours an almost black color with brown hues. 1/2 inch of light brown head. Lots of lacing. Aroma is a big whiff of coffee. Chocolatey and sweet smelling. Taste is more of that great roasted coffee. Bittersweet dark chocolate and roasted malt flavors as well. This is a heavy Imperial Stout. Nice mouthfeel. Overall this is a fantastic Imperial Stout and I'll be looking for this again. This is damn good.

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Photo of sfoley333
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz bottle into New Belgium snifter. Poured a dark midnight black, might be the same black found at the bottom of the sea but for sure its pretty black( you get the point). The head was a tan mocha color that was full and thick for a minute and then was gone with a slight residue left over. Smell is coffee, roasted malt, and a hint of coco. Taste is coffee, chocolate, small amount of alcohol but hiden very well. Mouthfeel is dry full body with not as much thickness as other imperial stouts. But for a dark sea monster this is a really easy to drink and enjoyable beer.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

crazy thanks to comfortablynumb1 for this super cool extra!!!

a - enjoyed in my E snifter. popped the cap and filled my was a pewter black...bowling ball witha thin creamy mocha head that had slow eruptions from the larger bubbles on the surface. hung out for a while and eventually small ponds cleared on the surface. lacing was pretty slick.

s - very nice and subtle mix of roastiness with some sweet dark fruit. gently sweetened.

t - WHOA that's good squishy...BIG and BOLD. RrrrOASTiness. some bittering. cocoa powder. second pour was way more vanilla and creamy.

m - tingly bready finish. full bodied and authoritative. rich and filling but the roastiness makes it a bit lighter feeling.

o - overall a nice bold roasty stout. ballast point continues to impress.

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Photo of scottfrie
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle into snifter split with friend. I believe this was bottled almost a year ago.

A: Pours a very dark brown with ruby edges under a thick light brown head that quickly settled into a thin film which left no lacing.
S: Light notes of dark roasted coffee, dark chocolate and raisins. Picking up maybe a hint of alcohol vapor and vanilla.
T: Rich and surprisingly sweet flavors of dark fruits and roasted dark malts with a hint of chocolate and faint bourbon near the finish. The sweetness throughout this beer is sticky and reminds me of molasses. Having never had this fresh, I assume that the expertly masked high alcohol content is partially due to the age of this bottle as I am picking up almost no trace of either alcohol flavor (except faint bourbon) or warmth. Finish has a touch of leafy hops and the aftertaste has a hint of tobacco.
M: Full bodied, but it could be fuller and more viscous. Very smooth and slick mouthfeel with a touch of stickiness. Goes down smooth and easy. Finish is surprisingly dry and almost has a woody oak tannin texture to it.
D: What a wonderfully flavored stout, I hate to see this one go. I was pleasantly surprised by this beer, although I am not sure why since this is the same brewery that makes Sculpin. This one had just the right amount of sweetness to balance out the expected coffee and chocolate flavors. The mouth could maybe use a touch of work, but overall this beer is very well done.

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Photo of MikeyMikee
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Been cellaring this for about 4-5 months. Served at cellar temp: 55'F

A- Opaque, literally jet black. A frothy baje head with a prety good retention considering its 10%. Nice lacing as well.

S- Heavily roasted malts, hazelnut, chocolate, light coffee grind and a bit of toffee. Clean citrus hops cut through the roast. AWESOME smell.

T- Vanilla, slight oak, liquorice and very little espresso. There are some light molasses and some figs which give it a tangy tartness. There are some citrusy hops on the finish that finish strong with some ethanol. Compared to the smell, the taste is a real let down.

M- Low to medium carbonation. Descent carbonation and the alcohol and hops provide a descent bite on the finish. There isnt any lingering of flavors which is alright. Doesn't fully coat the mouth and its a little thin.

O- Very drinkable, tangy but goes down smoothly for 10%..Thin body and tart tangyness takes away from the drinkability.

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Photo of OlieIPA
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Acquired this beer from the very sexy Aimstatus and enjoyed in her presence as well.

A: Poured with a brownish-black hue and was thinner than what I expected, but settled in nice and cozy-like in my brandy snifter. This beer also exhibited little head that dissipated shortly after the pour as well.

S: The initial smell is a mix of a really dark-roasted coffee with perhaps some hints of vanilla, or something sweet of its kind.

T: After the first sip, the palate is engulfed with a variety of flavors including: roasted coffee, nuts, dark chocolate, and black-licorice. There is one more flavor that I can't pick out, but it's something that would typically be found in a milk stout.

M: Has more of a Porter mouthfeel then an Imperial Stout, but does have a good amount of body for a 10% ABV beer. As aimstatus pointed out, the flavors seem to cling to the roof of your mouth.

D: No hint of alcohol taste as all; one of the easier Imperial Stouts to down.

Overall: Very impressed by this beer that you should definitely try to get your hands on. It reminds me more of a porter then an Imperial Stout, but still contains some of the qualities of one. A try it beer on my list. Cheers!

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Photo of sholland119
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this in a trade with jgap. Thanks, Justin!

A-Jet black, opaque with a very thin creamy tan head.

S-Roasted coffee and molasses with some dark chocolate in the background.

T-Sweeter than the nose, starting with a nice malty front with a roasty finish and more than a little bit of alcohol bite. Just boozy enough without going over the top. Delicious.

M-A little bit oily but otherwise rather light.

D-Very nice. Rich in flavor and a pleasure to drink.


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Photo of Tucquan
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on 2011-03-31 in Torrance, CA from a fresh bottle.

A - Deep, dark brown with a big, tan head that fades in half quicky and leaves nice lacing.

S - Chocolate, coffee, a bit of dried currants.

T - Tasty chocolate, toffee, medium roasted coffee astringency and hop bitterness. Sweet, mild sour and reasonable bitterness are well-balanced in the finish. Quite nice. Alcohol taste is there but this isn't a boozy tasting brew.

M - Thick, creamy with enough carbonation to refresh the pallet. Nice.

O - Props to a very good Imperial Stout. The chocolate and other flavors suit me better than oak/bourbon barrel stouts that sometimes emphasize fig/plum and vanilla. I'm a chocolate guy.

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Photo of GallowsThief
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out of a bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A – Poured out black with no light showing. Solid finger of brown head that receded down to a nice cap. Spotty lacing.

S – Roasted malt, oats, coffee, milk chocolate and bitterness.

T – Has a very nice roasted malt and chocolate taste in every sip. Pick up some subtle vanilla notes that also give it a bit of sweet flavor. Has a lot less coffee flavor then the smell would suggest. Solid pack of bitterness neat the end. Warms your throat on the way down with a breathy alcohol kick.

M – Medium to full bodied. Moderate carbonation. Still feels fairly creamy on palate.

O – Very good solid imperial stout. Nice easy drinker even for the ABV. Flavorful and the tastes get better if you let it warm up. More chocolate and vanilla comes out at room temp. Nice job here from the BP boys.

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Photo of bbothen
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a standard pint glass from a 22 oz bomber.

Pours a deep dark pitch black with a frothy 2 finger deep tan colored head. Lots of sticky lacing & webbing left on the glass.

SMells of roasted coffee beans, toasted malts, nuttiness, sweet dark fruitiness, faint smoky aroma. Yowza. Let's go.

Toasted malty roastiness, chocolate goodness, sweet roasted maltiness, nice hoppy bitterness, burnt grains, coffee. IS that technical? It tastes AWESOME. Big, roasty, bitter.

Smooth, full bodied, moderately carbonated, lingering bitterness.

A 22oz was no problem. The 10% is well hidden.

A fantastic Impy stout from Ballast Point. Big tasty, and great. Seek it out.

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Photo of popery
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown-black opaque liquid with nice mocha head that dissipates perhaps a bit more than I 'd prefer.

S: The smell is a bit too mild, but what's there is quite good. There is a mix of chocolate, coffee and roasted malt notes with excellent dark fruit chiming in from somewhere.

T: Excellent flavor. It's not a chocolate malt bomb or aggressively roasted. This beer attains a balance between the big stout flavors. There is a natural, malty coffee flavor (as opposed to the flavor from added coffee beans, no disrespect to coffee stouts). There are some citric, herbal hops, at least they taste that way over the flavorful dark-roasted malt. Dark stone fruit backs up the malt with flavors of prunes and plums which combine well with the citric hops. It's a well-crafted flavor.

M: There's good complexity to the beer and the alcohol is relatively well-hidden. Slightly viscous.

D: Drinkable. Good aftertaste. Well-balanced.

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Photo of AgentMunky
4.21/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a St. Bernardus goblet. No visible best before date.

A: A full finger of creamy head, brownish with a bit of bubbles. Almost black, but when any light makes it through, it's a gorgeous reddish hue.

S: Dry, roasted malts, à la Guinness. Some baking chocolate.

T: Whoah. This is delicious. Amidst the dryingly roasted malts are amazing notes of smoked meat and sweet-strong alcohols. The aftertaste is coffee-bitter and almost peachy. I dig this imperial stout.

M: Sitcky-smooth and seriously substantial.

O: This beer came with superlative recommendations from the beer store owner, and I wasn't let down. It may not be "the best imperial stout ever brewed," but it's darn fine. I'd definitely have one again and I'd recommend you pick one up.

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Photo of surprenant1138
4.21/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep dark brown/black into a snifter with almost no head and excellent retention of lacing. Aroma is light: coffee beans, some hops, some vanilla, maybe some spices. Mouthfeel is heavy, rich, and lightly carbonated. Taste is excellent: toasted coffee, some chocolate, some vanilla, very earthy, maybe some cinnamon, maybe some more spices. There is a hint of a medicinal afterbite, but that is tolerable. This is a great new stout for me to add to my list of continuing purchases.

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Photo of GilGarp
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage served at cellar temperature in a chalice.

Sea Monster is a medium dark brown in color with good clarity seen on the pour. Head is thick at first but settles fairly quickly. Nice lacing left behind.

Aroma is roasty and chocolatey but surprisingly mild for an imperial stout.

Flavor is thankfully more mild than the aroma would suggest. It has dark malt sweetness up front with big bitterness from middle to end. A combination of roasted malts and hops contribute to the bitterness and there's good balance there.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with low carbonation.

Overall a very good imperial stout but maybe not as special as Victory at Sea.

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Photo of kdahnke123
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 bottling poured into a snifter.
A - Dark brown pour with a 2F head that very slowly dissipates to a cream colored lacing.
S - A rich malty smell a balanced amount of hops and hints of chocolate.
T - A balanced integrated flavor of roasted malt and medium hops.
M - Very smooth, with medium carbonation.
O - A very nice creamy stout. No edge to this one, just nice and smooth.

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Photo of cassanoj
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter. Dark raisin brown, retains head throughout. Decent amount o' lacing.

I smell molasses, barley, a lot of roasted chocolate and a significant dose of hops. I really like how the roasted chocolate and barley play together in this one...also the way the hops add a nice little kick.

Taste is of chocolate, barley, dates, plums, cherries, coffee, and a significant lactic factor which I think seperates this beer from a lot of other stouts. It's quite sour, which I find myself enjoying.

Mouthfeel is smooth but the hops give it a bitter aftertaste. Medium to full body with light carbonation.

I'm quite impressed with Ballast Point's offering as I often am. I think these guys and gals are killing it over there in San Diego.

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Photo of jminsc76
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bestowed upon me a few months ago by the lovely irishgurl4 as a moving-away present (nochmals vielen Dank).

Into a tulip, pours an incredibly large, thick espresso head atop an impenetrable black body. Very thick legs as I tilt the glass, but not much going on by way of lacing. Looks great though.

Aromas of coffee and cookies (chocolate dough), with some almost phenolic qualities, but that could be the currants. It's pretty good, especially as it warms, with the malts virtually tickling the bouquet.

The flavors are actually quite magnificent, with a dovetailing of the currants meshing with the bitter aspects of the chocolate. It's a bit overwhelming, or at least unbalanced at first, but the spectrum becomes more so (yet still nuanced) as it warms. A lot more sweetness on the finish.

The mouthfeel, for a beer claiming oatmeal stout on the label, is actually not that smooth or pillow-ey. I mean, it's still thick, but the aging I have done with it for the last few months has perhaps blunted the once thick consistency. Hard to say.

Overall, this non-barrel-aged stout is quite good, with a flavor profile that grows on me as I sip. Just hoping future versions can improve that mouthfeel.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Charred chestnut with dark bronze highlights along the bottom edge. Not a complete black hole, but close enough. An attractive chunk of mocha colored foam occupies the glass from the nonic bulge to the rim and can be seen laying down shredded sheets of lace as it slowly begins to melt.

The nose is classic for the American double stout style. It also earns an extra half-point for aggressiveness. Even a passing sniff results in a pleasing burst of roasted malt that slightly favors bittersweet chocolate over black coffee. If the flavor is this impressive, SMIS might end up as one of my favorite Ballast Point brews.

Sea Monster Stout is delicious beer that is a little smaller in scope than many American double stouts. I'm more than fine with that. Massive beer is great, but it can sometimes be difficult to get through an entire bomber in one sitting. This one should be no trouble at all... as long as I can find a soft place to land after the final ounce.

Given the masterpiece that is Sculpin IPA, it's obvious that the brewers at Ballast Point know their way around a hop cone. Therefore, it isn't surprising that Monster contains mucho hops. While the individual characteristics of the hops (Summit and Amarillo) aren't obvious, they succeed in adding a considerable amount of citric fruit flavor and back end bitterness.

As it should be, the flavor spotlight is on the typical stout flavors of chocolate and coffee. Let's also add dark caramel, brown sugar and dark fruit (raisins) to the list. No molasses, no anise, no smoke. Again, those who love both American C-hops and stout will be in seventh heaven.

The mouthfeel fits the beer perfectly. Like the flavor, it's no kraken, but it's no skinny little minnow either. Positives include a light creaminess and just the right amount of bubbles. Gulping is encouraged, as long as one remains mindful of the ABV.

Ballast Point isn't usually mentioned in the same breath as the giants of California craft beer. That's a shame because these guys release quality beer... after quality beer... after quality beer. Sculpin is still my favorite, but Sea Monster is fantastic as well.

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Sea Monster Imperial Stout from Ballast Point Brewing Company
3.99 out of 5 based on 1,823 ratings.
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