Big Swede | Valkyrie Brewing

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Big SwedeBig Swede
Very Good
113 Ratings
Big SwedeBig Swede

Brewed by:
Valkyrie Brewing
Wisconsin, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by xlperro on 05-13-2002

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 113 |  Reviews: 89
Reviews by Atricapilla:
Photo of Atricapilla
4.2/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was poured into pint glasses. The first had hardly any head from a normal pour, so the second I did a vigorous pour without yielding much additional. Head was a very thin, dirty brown; very little carbonation. Color is dark, like crude oil or tar. Aroma yields coffee, malt, and vanilla. Taste is unique; highly ethanolic with strong malt, chickory, and cocoa. Very powerful flavor.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.77/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Coffee colored with very little head. Booze and fruit. (Mango and snazberries mostly). Porty. Lots of booze. Pretty solid. Burnt toffee. Syrupy. Plums and figs. Dark barley malts. Great buzz. Mouthfeel could use a little…more. So syrupy but kinda flat. plums and raisons too. Yummy. Good price. Viking is earning a solid reputation with me.

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Photo of blackearth
3.76/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased from Ray's Liquors in Wauwatosa, WI. Pours completely black with no head. Aroma of chocolate, caramel, roasted coffee and alcohol. Medium bodied, low carbonation, biscuit flavors, vanilla, oak, butterscotch, raspberries and a bit of a warming alcohol finish. Great dessert beer.

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Photo of skybluewater
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brownish-black color with ruby highlights. Smells of port and chocolate (I love the smell of Impys!) Taste is quite vinous, with a roasty edge and some chocolate as well. Mouthfeel is a bit thin, and while the taste is good, it isn't as good as the exemplars of the style. Alcohol is well-hidden.

Nevertheless, this is a nice brew, and at $3 for a 22-oz bomber, a great value. I'll definitely buy again, once in a while.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
3.82/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours into my tulip black with dark brown edges and just a wisp of light tan head that quickly fades to a ring around the top. Aromas of somewhat sweet dark malts along with nice chocolate and molasses undertones. Caramel and some dark fruity accents as well. Mellow overall but still nice.

First sip brings smooth semi-sweet dark malts upfront with chocolate, toffee, molasses and dark fruit flavors weaving in and out. Flows down with some bitter accents and a clean finish. No alcohol to be found even though I don't know what the abv is.

Mouthfeel is smooth, creamy and rich without being too heavy. Goes down easy. Pretty nice imperial stout here...nothing groundbreaking but tasty. Would pick this one up again next time I'm in Wisco.

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Photo of sponberg
4.02/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. "Swedish style Imperial Stout" in a bottle with a foil neck label - doesn't look at all like the one in the pic. Doesn't matter. Viscous very dark brown with a chocolate milk colored head that's still hanging tough 20 minutes later. REALLY like the aroma in this one - earthy hops, toffee/fig/port-like maltiiness, whiffs of alcohol, and slightly burnt coffee.

Starts with a big round chewy dark maltiness - figs, plums, toffee, almost sherry-like notes - alongside subdued coffee, alcohol, and earthy hops. Somewhere in there is a taste like what oak lumber smells like - a spicy woodiness for lack of a better term. The alcohol starts to show up in the middle along with more pronounced slightly burnt coffee, followed by a hint of apples (where the hell'd THEY come from? The alcohol evaporating, maybe? Got me!) and a roasty bitterness. Finishes with dry cocoa, coffee, and port-like smokiness with lingering alcohol and dark sweetness. Chewy but not overly so. Complex, but after a couple I'd be wanting to try something else.

Very interesting Impy stout from a brewery I had never heard of. Thanks again to FBG Tip Top for the bottle!

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Photo of badbeer
4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out black, but more dark brown around the edges. Light tan colored head that slowly dissipates leaving some spotty lacing. Light cocoa aromas with coffee hidden even more, there is a definate creamy vanilla aroma as well. Taste doesn't overpower the palate, but isn't skimpy either. It starts out with a light cocoa flavor paired with some vanilla, leading you to a small amount of earthy hops, before turning into a long roasty finish. Taste gets better as it warms, and the finish is the best part of each drink. Creamy and smooth with low carbonation, lighter side of full bodied. Overall this is one pretty good beer, and one that is better than my ratings show. To be honest, this is one that I'll be picking up quite often, I really enjoyed it.

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Photo of ADR
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Extremely dark brown, sub-black but opaque. Dark tnnish head, creamy with condensation on the top. Laces in multiples of numerous dots. The aroma is roasty, burnt wheat toast with a green grain sense and a slight astringency. Medium body and slick in viscosity, flavor is dominated by fruit, raisin that ranges a bit too far into an unripe grape wine-iness and overall acidity. Finishes with an oily coffee impression, perhaps re-inforced by generous hops. The set-up seems good, some alcohol power, just wanting a little more rich sweetness to balance the load.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in a dimple mug)

A- This beer has a jet black body with a transparent thin film of yellowish-beige head that moves to a thicker ring around the edges. There are tiny bubbles stuck to the side of the glass but that is the only sign of carbonation.

S- The smell of roasted black malt has a slight fruity raspberry hint and a soft vinous note to it.

T- The big black roasted malt flavor has an inky quality about it with a tad bit of tartness to it a vinous note as it warms. The finish is a soft chalky taste with a inky bitterness and a faint mint quality about it.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a slippery texture and no alcohol heat noticed. There is a slight astringency from black roasted grain that lingers a bit after the finish.

D- This is my first Swedish style Imperial Stout and it was nice. The big inky black beer was smooth but didn't have much depth of flavor.

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Photo of mully
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours dark/black very thin head that hangs around
smells sweet, molasses coffee and roast malts nutty a little boozy
Patent malts, coffee dark chocolate a little bit of residual sweetness
a little syrupy but not overwhelming
slides down easy for what seems to be a big beer

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Photo of IntriqKen
3.01/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours pitch black with a tan head that melt to a tan covering of tiny bubbles.

Aromas are slightly smokey and surprisingly fruity.

Flavors are dark toasted malt, some smokiness, and sweet fruitiness that ends up leaving a bit of citrus in the mouth.

Not at all like an RIS to my humble tongue. Too much fruit sweetness and no toasted brown sugar sweetness. I imagine this is due to the selection of hops but I found it unusual and slightly distracting.

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Photo of cokes
4.17/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Labeled as a "Swedish Style Imperial Stout". Using some geography, I deduced that in Viking's eyes Swedish Style Imperial Stout = Baltic Porter...which this beer most certainly is.

Beer pours black, hints of dark brown. Nearly uncarbonated, but a thin tan head forms and lasts.
Smells of dark fruit (plum) and alcohol.
More plum on the taste buds with some big grape notes. Wine-like. Some chocolate, carmel, fig and molasses. Oak flavors relatively prominent. An ephemeral vanilla flavor dances around as well. Roasted flavors are subdued (compared to most), but present. Alcohol kicks in towards the finish.
Not super thick, but decently heavy up front, thins towards the finish.
I am guessing the ABV is right up there.
The 22oz bombers are quite nice and a relative steal, price wise.

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Photo of Golden2wenty1
4.17/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a 22 oz. bomber at Riley's here in Madison. My second Viking brew, I rather enjoyed their gender-bending Whole Stein porter.

Pours RIS black with some ruby highlights and a smallish tan head and a little spotty lacing. Smell is, whoa there....alcohol, and fruits, some roasty malts. Taste is also much fruitier than I would have guessed. Similar to the Sam Smith Taddy Porter I had the other night, taste was dominated by an apple cidery flavor, with highlights of roasted malt and bittering hops. Leaves a burnt coffee taste on the tongue that isn't really present in the taste. Mouthfeel is smooth, not to thick or thin, and carbonation is rather high, nice on a hot summer evening. The alcohol is strong on the nose, noticible on the palate, but not overpowering. Overall another solid brew from Viking.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.81/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The Big Swede delivers the traditional opaque black body and very dark tan cap that's expected of an Imperial Stout; and the head retention is good, and it leaving some very nice lace about the glass. The nose offers a delicate combination of roastiness, dark fruitiness, and some higher alcohols. It's medium-full bodied and smooth across the palate, but not particularly creamy. In the flavor, the dark fruitiness is probably the most intersting part. It takes on the "burnt currant" flavor normally associated with the style, but it's a bit richer with some more berry-like flavors. The roastiness is also nicely balanced, lending splashes of black coffee here and there, but remaining overall fairly restrained. There's a delicate milk chocolate side that's also interesting, and it melds really well with the fruitiness. Still, some higher alcohols interfere and take away from its overall enjoyment. It finishes dry with some alcohol and a lingering, vinous and tannic fruitiness.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

7/27/06 Update: this was 2nd in line during the Imperial/Double Stout night with expatsteve and Golden2wenty1. My overall analysis remains pretty similar and would have resulted in approximately a 4 overall.

12oz single, Riley's, $1.99

appearance: poured into a snifter...motor oil, very dark mahogany...absolutely no head or lacing which was sort of odd...very dark and full body

smell: very rich, dark roasted malt, super creamy, big chocolate aromas, coffee grounds. appears very well balanced from the nose

taste: This is pretty darn tasty...super silky smooth, sweet dark chocolate, very creamy, roasted malt, dark roast coffee, slight bitterness in the aftertaste, alcohol presence felt, licorice, light hopping noticeable...Its not a thick RIS but its very good

mouthfeel: a little on the thin side but delightfully creamy and smooth, bitterness and booze found in the aftertaste

drinkability: high

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Photo of tempest
2.69/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I seemed to have a pleasant memory of the last time I tried the Big Swede. My current bottle doesn't match those expectations, however. The aroma is a mix of vegetables and Jell-o chocolate pudding. The flavor follows with a hint of roasted grains and smooth milk chocolate, but mostly ugly veggies flavors. I don't think this bottle has an excuse or anything. I picked it up as a single from a fridge at the Blue Max - same place I got the last bottle. I can at least say the alcohol is well-hidden, bravo. I can't drink the whole bottle of this, though.

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Photo of bditty187
4.18/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black with distant ruby highlights, opaque, bubbly brunette head, less than a fingers worth. Spotty, unorganized lace. Dry chalky, bittersweet chocolate, fruity esters, light roasted malt, good depth but it lacks in potency. Take a big sniff… it is worth it. Tasty palate, light roasted malts, a cornucopia of fruits… plums, raisins, dark berries… plus molasses and toffee. Soft coffee notes too. This is one sweet beer, pun intended. I’d prefer more roastedness for balance. Nevertheless, Big Swede has its charm… and I like it mighty fine! I would not call this an Imperial Stout however. Medium-full body, minimal carbonation… slickish mouthfeel. While the abv is not listed in is ‘noteworthy’! I’d quaff this sucker again… I enjoyed it. Recommended.

tavernjef, thank you!

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Photo of CharlesDarwin
3.72/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Originally reviewed April 9, 2005. Bottle at the Gitchee Gumee Brewfest 2005. A syrupy dark brown pour, with a diminished off-white head. The waft of this beer is of acorns, but that quality morphs into a more even buttery nuttyness, like pecans in the flavor profile, joining up with some savory toasted notes and some unexplainable things here. It finishes up with a sweet honey and almond kiss. This is very good, but different from the current Imperial Stout production pattern.

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Photo of morimech
3.76/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A very short lived small head forms on the dark black body. No lacing is left on the glass. Most unimpressive looking RIS I have seen.

I smell chocolate, licorice, and a lot of perfumey alcohol. The flavor is big on solvent alcohol character that wipes the malt flavors quickly away. The chocolate malt is delicious while it lasts. Finishes clean and warm. The body is a bit thin for the style but still relatively full bodied. Carbonation is low and lends a creamy texture. A good sipper but there are far better RIS out there. It should cellar nicely and would improve with some age.

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Photo of marcobrau
3.74/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter this beer is a very dark brown. What little foam that is created with the pour diminishes quickly to nothing but a few bubbles. The liquid left in my snifter has just a hint of carbonation. The nose is rather interesting with burnt sugar, cocoa and anise. Very assertive flavors of burnt grains, anise, cocoa have me thinking of a stout infused with akvavit (as Scandinavian distilled beverage.) It gets rather complex with bits of dark fruits (I'm thinking figs, raisins), cocoa and molasses followed by the return burnt grain which contributes a harsh bitterness which is in turn downplayed by a smooth anise liqueur finish. Not sure of the alcohol content, but this seems quite potent. Perhaps a little too light-bodied though, as I think some others have said? I like some of the flavors in this beer, but the perceived alcohol content, harsh bitterness and astringency drops the drinkability score -- it's quite a bit of work to get through this beer due to its strength and extremely robust flavors -- different than any other RIS I've sampled.

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Photo of Beertracker
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Viking's Big Swede is best served at warm cellar (50-55°F) temperatures from a brandy snifter or pear shaped stemmed glass. The Big Swede pours up with a small, tightly bubbled khaki head that's barely sustanable over a rather opaque dark brown body. The initial aroma is seemingly marred by a vegetal (DMS) presence with some oxidation (papery/sherry notes), but as it warms in hand this dissipates and becomes more complex with rich, fruity esters (black currant, elderberry), but has an herbal (licorice root, vanilla bean) overtone with a dominate sweet, dark malt roastiness (coffee/mocha). Alcohol warmth is well masked. The initial characater is a bit odd, but definitely malt oriented with lots of sweet mochachino & some sugary (muscavado/treacle) notes with some of dark fruitiness and complexity from the yeast. The finish is a bit sharp and abbreviated, but remains malty nontheless. This medium-full bodied ale is lightly carbonated, creamy, and warming. The Big Swede is quintessentially more of a Baltic Porter than a Russian Imperial Stout. Viking's Big Swede is a welcomed friend on a cold winter's night.

CHEERS! Beertracker

Taster's Note: *Special thanks to hoppymeal for the bottle!

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Photo of elricorico
4.07/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Black in the glass, opaque. One finger of tan head that leaves a bit of lacing as it goes.

The smell had me very excited. Sweet chocolate cake with a rum tinged chocolate icing. The notable alcohol in the aroma was pleasing to the nose.

The taste was good, but didn't quite live up to the smell. Milky coffee, caramel sweetness, bitter chocolate and an alcohol heat.

The body wasn't quite as full as I expected, but the carbonation was adequate and the overall effect was pleasant. An all around good example of the style, thanks to orrshow for sharing the bottle.

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Photo of emerge077
4.28/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown that becomes an opaque black in the snifter. Last bit is swirled and added, resulting in a couple fingers of chocolaty foam.

First whiff is of banana, a hint of smoke, and roasted malt. This later subsides, producing a boozy note. Started out big and appealing though.

Taste is really exceptional. Chocolaty, rich smoky malt, and that banana note hangs out in the background. Second time drinking this (1/2008), there's a juicy fresh plum note that is upfront. Dry finish, with mild bittersweet chocolate, char, and dry tobacco leaf. Smooth on the palate, silky mouthfeel. It has a fullness about it, but isn't heavy or cloying. My guess on the ABV is 7-8%.

Well done!

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Photo of Jredner
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Strong aroma features dark fruits, perfumey notes which I assume are a combination of alcohol and other aromas, chocolate and a weird sort of coffee/beef stock combo. Sounds bads smells great. Deep black with a quickly diminishing tan head. Lots of raisin, molasses, prune, fig and candied pulms in the fore. Mild cocoa notes. Finish is a melange of dark fruits which leave a lingering fruit juice sweetness. This tastes like an Imperial Schwarzbier or Dunkel. Quite different and much appreciated.

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Photo of Flyer
3.39/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Doesn’t come across as very “imperial,” but it’s fairly enjoyable. Pours inky black with a small head. Very little aroma. The up front is roasty and smokey, satisfying in the way of a good stout but not very intriguing. It finishes a little bitter-sweet. Before this, I’d never had a beer as high as 8% ABV with so little detectable alcohol – for me, that’s not a plus. This is an okay-to-good imperial stout, but its problem is that it lives in a world with more than a few great imperial stouts.

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Big Swede from Valkyrie Brewing
Beer rating: 3.85 out of 5 with 113 ratings