Szechuan Bänger
Põhjala Brewery

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Style:
Stout - American Imperial
ABV:
12.5%
Score:
93
Avg:
4.24 | pDev: 12.5%
Reviews:
13
Ratings:
22
From:
Põhjala Brewery
 
Estonia
Avail:
Retired (no longer brewed)
Wants
  1
Gots
  2
SCORE
93
Outstanding
Notes: Imperial stout brewed with szechuan peppercorn, star anise, fresh ginger, and pu’erh tea.
View: Beers
Reviews: 13 | Ratings: 22 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by unlikelyspiderperson:
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unlikelyspiderperson from California

3.86/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours as thick oily black that builds a small and compact head slowly. The mocha brown head takes it's time rising up out of the murky darkness to about a half finger before receding menacingly into the abyss. As it warms ginger comes through first along with a bit of chalky cacao bitterness.
Nose is a dark pit of emptiness. No smells escape. I can't believe it and will check back later.
Taste has a holiday spice prominence up front that melds into a strong molasses note through the middle while the pepper spice builds slowly toward the end. As you sip into it the spices meld together into a distinctly east asian flavor. There are some familiar stout notes like chocolate and molasses and lightly burnt grain but the dominant flavors are of distinctly oriental provenance. Pleasant but I'm missing a pairing right now, almost like drinking sauce without food.
Mouthfeel is wonderfully full while remaining remarkably light. Far too easy to drink for such a big beer.
Overall this beer grows on you (the way 12% creepers tend to). The spices are not subtle. The flavors are not discreet. And the flavors are not typical north american spices either. But they are so well put together and so ultimately...pleasant. Don't want another one tonight, would definitely drink another one tomorrow. Need to make the trek to Estonia now

Sep 17, 2019
More User Reviews:
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Phyl21ca from Canada (QC)

4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a large dark brown foamy head with light retention and some lacing. Aroma of roasted malt and black cholate notes with some ginger and pepper notes clearly identifiable. Taste is also a mix of sweet black chocolate notes with some ginger notes with some pepper notes also clearly noticeable. Body is pretty full with good carbonation with no apparent alcohol notes. Very interesting take on the style with good drinkability and good amount of different flavours.

Dec 06, 2019
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KaeptnBlaubaer from Germany

4.48/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

BB 23 08 21 Definitely one of the more peculiar brews I have had. Tremendously enjoying the creativity that went into making this unique libation. Great boundary pushing craftsmanship. Would pair wonderfully with fragrant and spicy curries. Repeat? For sure!

Apr 07, 2019
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BerryKumquat from California

4/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aug 11, 2019
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Wisconsin_IPA_Lover from Wisconsin

4.49/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Jun 02, 2019
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Georgiabeer from Georgia

2.16/5  rDev -49.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

I love this brewery, and I really wanted to like this beer, but just couldn't. It starts great, with the warming spices and the peppercorns. The problem is when the puerh tea hits you like a ton of bricks. Instant unplesant bitterness and a funky mushroom flavor. Just way too much. A more subtle tea note here would have lead to a great beer, but as it stands this just leaves an extremely unpleasant taste in the mouth that blows your palate out for the rest of the evening. Ah well, it's still good to experiment.

Aug 29, 2019
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LiquidAmber from Washington

4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a very dark mahogany brown, appearing opaque black in the glass with a thin brown head that dissipates tosparse patches with slight lacing. Aroma of dark toasted malt, ginger, black pepper, licorice and a hint of cocoa, a little bit of burn. Flavor is dark toasted malt, cocoa, mild ginger and pepper, anise. Medium bodied with light creaminess. One of the better spiced stouts I've had. The first pleasant surprise is that I misread the label and thought they used Szechuan peppers (not peppercorns) and was expecting some burn. As a matter of fact there was a little burn in the aroma, but probably the ethanol. All the strong spices - ginger, peppercorns and anise were handled beautifully and were excellently balanced and well supported by the deep malt, which was especially enhance by the pepper. The description sounds quite busy with spice, but this is really nicely integrated. I've been impressed with this brewery's other offerings and am especially so with this one. Quite a few fine breweries have gone off the rails a bit with a mixture of spices like this, but this is great. Unique, malty and flavorful. More than the sum of its parts.

May 29, 2019
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SLeffler27 from New York

4.45/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours golden amber with a chestnut foam that is fine and long lived at one-half inch. The beer is very dark brown and clear when pouring, and black in a PBGC malty snifter.

Bourbon is light in the aroma with lots of dark roasted chocolate and some black coffee. It also has sweet pepper jelly. Warmth brings out anise and coconut.

The flavor is deep, roasted malt with light bitterness overshadowed by sweetness. Chocolate and black coffee fill out the middle with a touch of tartness. The finish is long and sweet.

A creamy smooth texture with light carbonation and alcohol well below its weight.

This is a great beer for a cool Summer day. It could be enjoyed with a mild cigar while sitting under the trees.

Jul 07, 2019
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OlaB from Norway

3.96/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep dark-brown color with a small top off cappuccino colored head that dissolves quickly. Aroma is roasted malts, dark chocolate, mollasses, coffee, licorice, ginger and peppercorns.
The taste is very sweet with strong roasted malt tones. I sense dark chocolate and coffee notes allong with some strong spicy notes of ginger and tea leaves in the flavour. The finish has some slight bitterness and leaves a long and strong aftertaste. Complex flavours.
Mouthfeel is oily and creamy with a medium carbonation and a full body. An impressive imperial stout.

Nov 30, 2019
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DvdP from Netherlands

3.5/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours black, with a thin edge of brown foam. Huge smell of spices; ginger, tea, anise and the pepper even. Not pleasant for me. Taste is heavy sweet, with some dry spice coming in fast. Not as gingery as the smell. Sharp, peppery, very boozy. Very weird.

Oct 17, 2020
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shigg85 from Japan

4.75/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Jan 30, 2019
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VTbrewfan from Massachusetts

4.59/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

9 oz pour on tap at Brewers Fork in Charlestown, MA.
Look: mahogany, molasses color with light ring of foam.
Smell: sweet grape juice, star anise, faint smoke
Taste: molasses, lapsang souchong tea, Scotch, bittersweet chocolate, coffee. Very complex!
Feel: syrupy but not thick
Overall: this is the third stout that I’ve tried from Pohjala and I feel lucky to have had access to them because I am really impressed. Their beers are bordering on works of art with the amount of thought and care they put in the ingredients. This stout and the Italiobanger are my favorites and both have some crazy complex flavors. You really need to savor them to best enjoy what they have to offer. Really thoughtful and layered beers. I definitely recommend trying this one if you have the chance.

Feb 21, 2019
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dpgoblejr from New Hampshire

4.76/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Jan 01, 2019
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Dutchcraftbeergeek from Netherlands

4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sep 29, 2018
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Abstractspirit from Rhode Island

4.48/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Feb 01, 2019
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mishi_d from Romania

4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black color with tan head, aroma of roasted malts, spices, alcohol, tea and star anises, taste is medium sweet / lightly bitter, full body, average carbonation.

Feb 25, 2019
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Snowcrash000 from Germany

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

Pours a pitch-black coloration with a small, creamy head. Smells of chocolate malt, ginger and anise, with a hint of citrus and a certain flowery note. Taste follows the nose, being dominated by rich milk chocolate and notes of ginger, anise and citrus, as well as a certain earthy/musty, flowery note and very light tartness. Finishes with a light bitterness and some spices and very mild heat lingering in the aftertaste. Thick mouthfeel with a rich body and low carbonation.

At first I was kind of disappointed at the lack of chili heat and confused by the presence of citrus notes here, until I realized that Szechuan pepper is actually a lot closer related to the citrus than the chili family. Quite fascinating. This is certainly a rather unique and odd brew that still works quite well though. Rather exotic, but well-balanced flavor profile held together nicely by a rich milk chocolate character. The earthy, flowery and slightly tart notes can probably be attributed to the Pu-Erh tea.

Nov 25, 2018
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Highlake78NL from Netherlands

4.23/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Oct 19, 2018
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jrc1093 from Connecticut

4.06/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Best before 8/23/2021

Pours a dense black topped with a gorgeously creamy golden mocha head, which maintains itself a decent while until eventually reducing to possibly the most persistent, thick collar I’ve seen to date on a beer; no lacing to speak of, but this is stellar-looking regardless.

Aroma opens with an herbal sweetness, involving toasty ginger with tea leaves integrated perfectly alongside star anise and an herbal heat mediated with ginger; some further depth sees deeper notes of smoked apple, roasty malts, and bits of ashen, malty char; a sweetness unfolds the longer it warms.

Taste brings an herbal sweetness upfront, similar to the aroma, that gives way to a vague peppery heat finding its place perfectly alongside creamy milk chocolate bursting quietly with star anise undertones; again trailing the aroma in that the sweeter tones only grow over time.

Mouthfeel shows a creamy, medium-heavy body, balanced carbonation, and a minor malty/herbal/peppery grit that calms enough for a pretty seamless transition to the cooly roasty, semi-dry finish; virtually no hints of booze throughout.

I can’t help but think that having this eclectic profile come together the way it has here is pretty impressive on its own; it does trend toward ‘too sweet’ territory once it warms to a certain point, but the profile as a whole only amplifies, and seldom breaks consistency. With so many unique factors at play, I can’t say this is something I’d reach for with any frequency, but standing alone, this one impresses based on the smooth flow with which its ingredients are integrated.

Mar 01, 2019
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robotic_being from Florida

4.08/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Drank at Wakefest in Miami, 2019.

Feb 04, 2019
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OompaMentor from Georgia

3.94/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wakefest 2019

Apr 03, 2019
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metter98 from New York

4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a quarter finger high dark tan head that died down, leaving a collar consisting of light tan bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: Moderate aromas of spicy Szechuan peppercorns are present in the nose.
T: The taste has flavors of dark malts along with notes of star anise and hints of Szechuan peppercorns.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This stout is incredibly easy to drink as it really isn't that heavy on the palate and it does a very good job at hiding any traces of alcohol from the taste.

Serving type: bottle

Mar 25, 2019
Szechuan Bänger from Põhjala Brewery
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 22 ratings