Moscow | Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

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Brewed by:
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Alaska, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
First brewed as part of our 2011 World Tour series, MOSCOW Rye Russian Imperial Stout is a hefty, opaque black liquid that pours slowly and soulfully into your snifter. A high percentage of spicy rye and roasted dark malts create a dense, chewy yet elegant winter wonderland of flavors. And from AK we say: Let it Snow…in Moscow.

Added by Rifugium on 12-31-2011

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Reviews: 64 | Ratings: 280
Photo of cosmicevan
4.11/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

bottle picked up locally, enjoyed from a midnight sun snifter.

a - brew poured a majestic rich black from the bottle...settled as deep shiny black in the glass with a reasonable foamy dark tan chocolate head. head was gone relatively quickly and left streaky lacing. looks fairly thick. coats the glass with beer when i tilt it for a swig.

s - dark black malts and a glazing of rye. dark chocolate. thickness.

t - thick and lush black malts with rye to give it an almost RIS with straw kind of vibe. dark fruit and chocolate with a nice serving of grain. the rye kind of makes it feel like an oxidized hop.

m - a meal in a glass. fairly thick and might be a bit of a chore to tackle this on my own, but i'm down with this item on the honey do list.

o - overall, a very solid beer from midnight sun. the rye is an interesting twist. i do dig rye beers quite a bit, but in a interesting. really good RIS and worth checking out.

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Photo of Gmann
4.26/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a pitch black color with a dense reddish brown head that settles into a light cap.

The aroma is quite meaty with plenty of soy notes. Molasses provides a deep sweet aroma. A subtle hint of smoke and charred wood. A dark berry sweet sour note as well. Very nice deep aroma.

Big roast flavor with notes of burnt coffee. Scorched caramel and molasses and perhaps a touch of vanilla. Plum and carob provide a sweet and sour note. Not much smoke in the flavor but still quite woody. Light anise. Big RIS flavors.

The feel is thick with soft carbonation so it has a smooth feel. Sweet and bitter on the palate. Sticky and chewy in the finish.

Very good stout. Big and bold and what an imperial stout should be.

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Photo of metter98
3.92/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a quarter finger high mocha colored head that quickly died down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of dark malts and licorice are present in the nose.
T: Similar to the smell, the taste has flavors of chocolate, dark malts and licorice along with hints of roasted malts and spicy rye. No sweetness is perceptible. The spices linger though the finish.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O:I liked how this Russian Imperial Stout used rye as it helped mask some of the sweetness that is typically associated with beers in this style and made it easier to drink.

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Photo of LaneMeyer
3.78/5  rDev -8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a Teku.

A - A beautiful beer, matte black, with half a finger of tannish/ruby red-brown head.

S - Coffee, chocolate, roasted malt, plum, raisins, caramel, buttered toffee, alcohol.

T - Coffee, bitter dark chocolate, bitter caramel, alcohol, rye.

M - Nice thick stout, fair amount of carbonation.

O - Looks and smells wonderful. A bit hot, could use a year in the cellar. Taste is not as complex as the smell. Not disappointing, but not mind-blowing either.

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.36/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Served in a snifter glass.

Aoppearance: Opaque black body with a heavy dark tan head in the beginning settling quick. It was originally over a finger's length. Looks stunning.

Smell: Strong coffee and dose of vanilla bean. Very strong...the kind of stick aroma that stays with you for a while. /

Taste: Coffee beans that feel more like a full effect hit of espresso. A sweet bitterness to can taste molasses and a pinch of a unique sourness to it that becomes pretty addicting. Complex?, yes it is!

Mouth: Medium body with mocha finish. Sticky and hard to judge but the minimum rating is at least four and a quarter.

Overall: Raw quality beer, Midnight Sun Brewing has established itself in it's own class with the last couple of brews I have had from them. This brew is at the top of the food chain when compared to others, if I see it again I would definitely grab another bottle. Salud!

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Photo of ksimons
4.26/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A-thick almost black pour with a fingers worth of dark tan head that leaves a ring around the top

S-rich malt, roasted dark coffee, dark chocolate, molasses, and a bit of spicy rye

T-roasted malt, spicy rye, roasted espresso, dark chocolate. Alcohol gives a slight warming, but the 11% is very well hidden.

M-full body, light to medium carbonation, dry roasted, slight burnt aftertaste

Overall very flavorful RIS with a very nice rich body. Would happily drink this again.

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Photo of vkv822
4.08/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz : Teku

Opaque black, with a thin, bubbly brown head.

Big, cocoa and roast malt notes, faint dark fruit and a rye spice backing.

Taste follows the nose, with a slight alcohol warmth in the finish.

Creamy, lightly viscous body, mild foamy carbonation.

A very well done RIS. The rye adds an extra, subtle touch towards the finish of an already tasty base beer.

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Photo of Greywulfken
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: pitch black and dense; milky chocolate head dissipates quickly, leaving just a trace behind

S: lots of dark roasted malt aromas, suggesting ice cold, black, bitter coffee; sweeter hints of molasses

T: rich, roasty, drenched in wet dark bittersweet malt, drier wood and oak flavors, perhaps something like anise; what I presume to be the rye creates a deeper level with some chewy grain and earthy/herbal seasonings/spices; sugars wash in up front and then fade out, dry and mellow

M: dense, heavy creamy, full-bodied, no palpable carbonation, smooth and slightly coating, dark bittersweet aftertaste

O: warmed impressively - nice, mellow and smooth; bitters are dark and shadowy; the rye and perhaps whatever hops are used create a savory/medicinal component (and perhaps the abv shows a bit, too) - almost like a dark malt tonic - a very nice interpretation of the style.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured out as a thick oily black color color with a deep brown colored head, the retention is very thin, some scattered lacing as well. The smell is lightly roasted with some sweet molasses on the nose. The taste is sweet and roasted with a nice bitterness in the finish. Some decent spicy notes in there as well from the rye. The mouthfeel is thick, oily and lightly carbonated. Overall it's a big thick beast of a beer. Very good stuff.

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Photo of notchucknorris
4.48/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours like motor oil. Black as a Kardashian heart and thick as hell. A dense milk chocolate colored head wells up immediately, leaving a beautiful, dense blanket of tight bubbles. This might be the darkest head I've ever seen. This beer means business.

S: Big and roasty aroma. Wet earth, charred wood, peat, espresso and some faint milk chocolate sweetness. Liking it.

T: A big pop in the mouth of roasted and charred malt right away. Burnt oak, a quick hit of smoke, and some charred espresso. So much roastiness and it is awesome. There's just a touch of spiciness from the rye as well as a respite from the roasted flavors in a flash of milk chocolate and molasses. Finish brings some dark coffee grounds and a lingering note of rye. The mouthfeel is near perfect. It's dense as hell, with an almost milkshake like consistency, coating every inch of your mouth with roasty awesomeness. I've had stouts far higher in ABV, but this mouthfeel is up there with the thickest of them. Amazing stuff.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.29/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Inky black. Pours with no head, but then it wells up a nice mocha head. Thick mocha collar. Rebuilds with every swirl.

Smell - Chocolate. I think I smell the rye. Alcoholic and a little ashy.

Taste - A significant improvement. Fruity. Chocolatey. Some smokiness. A little bitter and sweet in the finish. Tastes like a Baltic porter in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Odd body. Kinda thin. Again like a lager in the finish.

Overall - Not sold on this. All over the place. Some is good, some is bad.

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Photo of lsummers
4.61/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours like motor oil. Black and thick as can be with a dark chocolate frothy dark head. One of the best looking beers I've ever seen.

Smells of cocoa beans, raisins, burnt dark chocolate and a touch of coffee. There's a slight nutty toffee note. You can almost smell the creaminess.

Taste hits with the burnt roasted cocoa beans and transitions into a more raisin and burnt caramelized brown sugar sweetness. Ends with some great dark chocolate aftertastes. Roasted caramel malts mix in throughout.

Mouthfeel is fairly viscus yet moderately carbonated. This is perfectly balanced on the tongue and maybe a bit too drinkable for the abv. Not a bad thing though.

Overall, This is a top Russian Imperial Stout. A definite try and retry. Can't wait to find this again.

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Photo of LordChesterfield
5/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Typical Russian imperial in every aspect accept for the taste and smell. It has a wonderful mix of oaky and floral smells and the taste is smooth and inviting. Notes of coffee, hints of molasses with a well integrated hop flavor, also a vague fruitiness. It has a very light aftertaste that only adds to the drinkability. It has a perfect level of bitterness. The alcohol level is dangerous as hell though, and isn't convenient for quaffing. Youz'll get drunk fast.

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Photo of harrymel
3.78/5  rDev -8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

2013 release.

This is black with a broken sheet of toasted graham foam. When I first cracked this beer and took a whiff off the bottle, it smelled great. Now that I've poured the beer and let it breath for a few minutes, we have chocolate banana oatmeal. There's some molasses and booze there too, a touch of spiced grains and warm milk. Flavor is sweet, roasted, some metal, some oats, plenty of cocoa and burnt toast, maybe a touch of coconut as it warms. Medium on full bodied with really low carbonation - this all comes together beautifully; honestly a really, really fine body and feel with a wet finish. I'm kinda torn on this beer, on one hand I really dig it, on the other, I think it's an absolute strikeout for the style. Fuck it, grading to taste.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.46/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Belmont Station.

Pouring an impressive black with a dense, dark brown head that's thick, creamy and long-lasting, this is a gorgeous RIS. The lacing is decent too. The nose has in incredible amount of rye up front, but it pairs very well with the heavily roasted grain character. Roast, mild char, unsweetened cocoa, a little bit of smoke, along with a little bit of spicy anise and a touch of fennel. Pretty excellent.

The palate opens with a big, bready rye flavor along with an excellent stout base. This is not a plain-vanilla RIS, this is a well-done RIS. Unsweetened dark chocolate, smoke, a mild but perfectly balanced ashy/grainy acidity. The mid-palate does have some sweetness, but it's more along the lines of a blend of buckwheat honey and pumpernickel bread. Mildly spicy as well, with a little bit of fennel and some anise and even some licorice. Full in body (does the rye add to the silkiness I feel?), soft and creamily carbonated, this beer finishes with a blend of grainy bitterness, a little bit of burnt grain (but no acrid notes) and a nice rye flavor. Alcohol is very well-hidden too. As it breathes, it gains a mild vinous character. Very good, this is highly recommended.

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Photo of Kevin73
4.14/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

This is a gorgeously thick, syrupy, chewy beer! One of the thickest beers I've ever come across. Pours a beautifully opaque and deliciously sludgy brownish black with a caramel head, but unfortunately with almost no lacing. Looks great while you're pouring it as the head sinks swirling artfully into the abyss. Feels wonderful in the mouth, not too oily, coating disappears quickly and leaves very little aftertaste. The flavor was not as complex as I'd like, dominated by the roasted malts, with very subtle chocolate, fruit, vanilla and a bit of tartness on the finish. I did not find it to be a particularly well balanced flavor, a problem I find with a lot of imperials. That being said, there are worse flavors to dominate than dark malts. This is not a bad tasting beer by any stretch and is one of the better imperial stouts I've tried. The rich thickness of it is amazing.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.85/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into an Elysian snifter. Pours pitch black with very slight signs of carbonation, leaving patches of brown foam and a ring around the glass leaving patchy lacing. Light aroma of toasted malt and chocolate, hints of coffee and vanilla. Flavor starts with toasted and charred malt, cooked coffee, chocolate with an interesting lighter spicy fruit component that must be contributed by the rye. Finishes with toasted and charred malt with light hop bitterness. Although the pour appeared viscous, the mouth feel is medium to heavy with little detectable carbonation. An interesting RIS, that seems a bit light on flavor, but that could be a result of the rye toning down the toasted malt elements. I would have liked a bit more robust malt, but the lighter rye spiciness keeps this interesting. The lack of carbonation was a distraction, but the pleasant heavy body became more pronounced as I drank over time, so the mouthfeel and appearance components would have a higher rating with a better carbonated bottle.

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Photo of Kuaff
4.71/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured at cellar temperature from a bomber into my snifter.

When I poured this beer, even the thin stream flowing out of the bottle appeared almost completely black. This is definitely the blackest beer I've seen. As it pools in the glass, delicate sheets of fine brown foam swirl mysteriously across the surface, accumulating into a small, dense head which fades pretty fast. Just beautiful.

The smell has qualities of sweet milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and rich coffee. Smells like the most awesome chocolate dessert ever.

It tastes much like it smells, with the chocolate and coffee coming through, and a roasty, charred aftertaste. There is also some smokiness that reminds me of my family's Alaskan smoked king salmon (just the smoky taste, not the salmon taste). The rye this beer was brewed with is pretty subtle at first, but really comes through a lot more as it warms.

This stuff is thick! Like, NOTICEABLY thick. Very viscous indeed. But this is welcome, as it makes the beer feel substantial and enhances the richness. The carbonation is right where I want it.

Moscow Russian Imperial Stout is out of this world! There are so many dimensions to it... And 11% ABV? I was much too busy being seducted by this black, bodacious brew to notice that at all.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.42/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a sluggish jet black which presents a nice mocha colored cap. Some good head retention leaves a good trail of bubbles around the glass and some lacing after a few moments.

S: Rather lackluster. Some soot, chocolate, booze and rye pretty much sums it up.

T: Initial taste has some soot or ash like notes as Thorpe called it with a buried dark chocolate, dark fruit, a rye presence pops but mellows out and a little booze sting which lingers on throughout the taste. Their is a big underlying roastiness throughout.

M: Full body, agressive on the palate, well carbonated. Just not much going on for me but this beer coats the palate well but i wish it were coated with better tasting notes and flavor

O: Not a bad beer, but a letdown at the pricepoint.

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Photo of atalayafr
4.27/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Deep french press dark but with obvious texture. Really dark! No head.
S-Mild rye, gentle alcohol. Pleasant.
T-Quite a bit more rye in the taste than was present in the smell. A bit more alcohol on the tongue and moderate alcohol effervescence as well. A subtle hint of cherry.
M-Buttery but not slippery. Starts slick but becomes drier once the rye and alcohol land.
O-A pretty pour. So dark there's some trepidation to it. But it's not overwhelming in rye or alcohol and mouthfeel keeps it drinkable. A good Russian Imperial Rye!
S-22oz Bottle

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Photo of Dreadnaught33
3.79/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottle shared thanks to starrdogg, thanks Matt! This is a 2011 bottling.

The pour is very viscous and thick looking, jet black with very little tan head.

The smell is very roasty, some nice fudge sweetness and molasses as well. Anise like notes as well. Pillowy almond and alcohol.

The taste is ok, has nice roast to it and a decent amount of malt to back it up. But overall seems like the flavor is a little thinner than I had hoped, it seems to have very little going on mid palate. Rye is fine but maybe a littl much. Definite coffee bitters at the finish. Some cream flavor to sweeten it up.

The feel is decent, thinner than most imperial stouts, but semi coating overall.

A good but not great imperial stout.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.26/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of GT2. Served in a Midnight Sun goblet. Pours near black with a short mocha head. Nose has quite a bit of roast along with some ash. Strong roast and a bit of chocolate. Flavor has quite a bit of ash. Medium body. Slightly viscous. Ashy and dry. A bit bitter. Not a huge fan.

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Photo of John_M
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Talk about a pleasant surprise... on tap at the Apex yesterday.

The beer pours a blackish brown color, with a creamy, coffee colored head. Retention is very good in tihs beer, and it has a viscuous look about it. The nose is equally impressive in this beer, as I pick up considerable milk chocolate, light coffee and vanilla, and maybe a hint of caramel, along with an interesting rye component as well. I wasn't really sure how well the rye would work in an RIS, but it's not bad at all (probably helps that this is a terrific RIS), and adds an interesting aroma (and flavor component) to this beer. The flavor profile replicates the nose very closely, though there's an interesting hint of licorise and hoppy bitterness as well in the finish that I like. Mouthfeel is fairly full, and the beer has a long, soft creamy finish. Alcohol is well integrated into the flavor profile, and there's really no hint of the 11% abv.

An altogether excellent beer from Midnight Sun. Glad I got to try this one.

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Photo of Jeffo
4.85/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottles of this from Masterski and claaark13. Love this brewery and especially love their stout beer. Thanks heaps for the bottles of this stuff gents!

From a bomber into a snifter
2011 World Tour Series (see edit below)
Imperial Stout brewed with Rye

APPEARANCE: Pours out thick black, sludgy and syrupy, and yields a small, tight, creamy, dark mocha head that fades to a faint wisp and ring. Pitch black body, thick and viscous, with no carbonation evident. Splotchy wisp and ring remain leaving nice lacing down the glass. Head could be a little more persistent, but this is a thick, viscous, meanacing looking imperial stout. This is how the style should look. Take note beerworld.

SMELL: Nice nose with lots of roasted malts, dark, pure chocolste, as well as some coffee. More than this, however, a good dose of burnt, charred malts steal the show. This is a very bold, burnt stout. Love it.

TASTE: Very flavorful, with lots of burnt, charred, and roasted malt up front, as well as some pure chocolate in there as well. A hint of sweet cream at the swallow, then a huge and relentless finish of burnt and charred flavors, lots of pure, dark chocolate, cocoa powder, burnt espresso beans, and tobacco. Very flavorful and plenty of charred, burnt malts, much like some European examples of the style. Might be somewhat too burnt for some people, but this one is right up my alley.

PALATE: Full body with modest levels of carbonation. Creamy smooth on the palate, goes down smooth and finishes slightly sticky. Just a touch of heat lingers on thise one. Very full, creamy, viscous, with just the right amount of heat. Just awesome.

OVERALL: This might be the best beer of the year for me. It's really European in its flavor profile, with charred, burnt malt aromas and flavors that rival any big De Molen or Mikkeller imperial stout. The quality that brings this one to the next level, however, is the feel, which is thicker, creamier and more viscous than its European cousins. This is one hell of a beer and I'd love to see it come out again, or even put in barrels some day. Thanks heaps for this stuff guys, and anyone who knows me, don't be afraid to drop one in my lap. This really is a world class beer. Highly recommended.

EDIT: Drank a batch two against the original 2011 batch one last night (5 Feb 2014) and they were both fantastic. The 2011 is bolder, slightly more charred with a hint more bitter chocolate than the newer batch, but both are world class. Even after all this time, I still think batch one deserves the 4.88 I originally gave it.

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Photo of kawilliams81
4.03/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a 12 oz glass.

A- Pours pitch black with a 1 finger brown head. Minimal lacing around the edge of the glass.

S- Chocolate, roasted malts, dark fruits.

T- Heavy roasted malts, dark fruits, chocolate and some coffee.

M- Full body and medium carbonation. Slightly dry feel but drinks well for 11%.

O- Very solid RIS. Nice heavy roast stout with some dark fruit notes.

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Moscow from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
4.11 out of 5 based on 280 ratings.
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