Big Swede | Valkyrie Brewing

very good
113 Ratings
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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

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Ratings: 113 |  Reviews: 89
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A strong pour takes me by surprise as more than three fingers of carmel brown head jumps over the top of the glass and makes a bit of a mess. Scattered dots of lace and rocky foam are left behind. Body is 3000 mile used motor oil black. Nose is big and full of rich coco, a bit of anise and smokey vanilla. Super creamy chocolate goodness enters the mouth with first sip. Layers of chocolate oats, toasted malts, smokey coco and black coffee. You also get some black licorice and black vanilla. This impy stout really drinks dominantly on the sweet side. There is chocolate bready sweetness and considerable malty on the mouthfeel. The perfect after dinner desert type sipper.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.47/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Impenetrable mahogany with a glimmer of reddish gold along the bottom edge of the glass. In spite of an increasingly elevated pour, the mocha colored cap only reached a height of a slim one finger. It's hanging in there reasonably well, but doesn't look the type to leave any lace. At only 8%, the beer shouldn't be this head and lace deficient. It's still a good looking stout.

The nose is great because it's powerful and because it's multi-faceted. The primary aromas are roasted barley, bittersweet chocolate and coffee. The thing that makes it different is a bourbon-like, charred oak, vanilla esteriness. I'm pretty sure Big Swede isn't aged in bourbon barrels, but it might as well be.

I'm not sure that Russian Imperial Stout is the correct style. And I have no idea what Swedish Style Imperial Stout even means. When compared to the heavy hitters, this one comes up a bit short on brute strength and mouthfeel. Not to worry because it more than makes up for it by being stupendously delicious.

I've had a lot of big stouts, but I don't know that I've ever had one that tastes quite like Big Swede. There's more than usual happening on the taste buds, all of it good. For starters, sweet, sour and bitter are exceptionally well-balanced. All are present and all contribute something of value at differents points along the flavor arc. As is often the case, sweet dominates early, sour occupies the middle and bitter cleans up at the end.

I would have bet that Viking ages this sucker in bourbon barrels. Every one of the usual suspects are present: brown sugar, vanilla (especially), a light oaky char, even a little smoke. I'm alternating between trying to break it down during one mouthful and simply enjoying it the next. I know one thing, I wish I had the big bottle rather than this woefully inadequate twelve ouncer.

I've changed my mind about the mouthfeel. Even though it isn't as massive and as thickly chewy as I might like, it's as silky smooth as any beer in recent memory. I have no problem with the carbonation being on the low end if it results in a mouthfeel this luxurious.

Nothing that I've had from Viking prepared me for the incredible beer... that is now gone from my glass. It's easily the finest thing these guys have ever created. I'm compiling a list of what to look for the next time I venture up to Madison. Big Swede has just been added, given a few exclamation points and circled. Outstanding!

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Photo of tavernjef
4.45/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The Big Swede pours out like the color of dark syrup and settles in the glass solid blackish with a bit of a brown tone, but no light gets past this thick brute. Very nice brown head that grows slowly to about a 1/2 inch high with lots of bigger bubbles on the opposite side of this frothy heavy spongy top; crumbles and pops slowly back down and leaves lots of spotty lace.

Smell is lots of dark fruits and roasty malts of plum, raisin, and fig, good sense of molasses with a touch of chocolate or cocoa, very sweet and fruity, deep and rich nose, especially as the you get towards the the bottom of the bomber, the nose stands big on this Swedish Stout.

Tastes like it smells, "yah, vwhat a joy, eh!" Starts quite full with lots of malty action thats very big and rich with dark fruits, mostly raisins, lots of molasses take control and big tangyness and chewy roasty malts all over the place. It thins a little from just past the midway point, mellowing alot with a small hop bitterness returning into some more molasses and slight cocoa and one super cotteny coating mouth of dull, prickly pear and a unique drying thats super interesting with a nudge of warming alcohol in the finish.

Feel is full at the start, mellows out and stays lightly creamy throughout; quite thick, rich, and big boldness, finish is great.
One excellent Imperial Stout, enjoyable and drinkable.
Viking has a top notch brew with Big Swede indeed!

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.42/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a dark black. The mag-lite reveals hidden bright reds and burgundy along with a surprising clearness to this beer. Not much head to speak of, however. But it does leave specks of foam around the edge of my glass. Smells of heavy maple syrup that is delicately blended into a burnt sour barley and oat malt. There are also hints of medicinal smells that come through. As it warmed, some chocolate and alcohol made itself present. Tastes of buttery roasted malts and a stronger than expected sourness along the sides of my tongue. Again, when this warmed a bit, some creamy milk chocolate and sour dark fruits came out. Finishes a bit sour with a smoky sweetness. The mouth feel is quite thick with little carbonation that works well with the creamy flavors. This is a tasty sipper that reminded me of Harpoon’s Barrel Series Imperial Stout #12, but the flavors weren’t but together as well. This beer was surprisingly refreshing and easy to drink for an imperial stout. Also, be sure to have this beer a bit on the warm side. Or, sip it cold and wait for it to warm so you can detect the drastic change in flavor.

From the unexpected buzz that got laid on me after one 12 oz. bottle, I’d have to say the ABV is somewhere around 10%. That’s not too surprising, but I think this is clearly a little stronger than your average imperial stout.

Another side note on the style, every beer from Viking should be prefaced with, “And now for something completely different.” They march to the beat of their own drummer there, reinventing styles and coming up with some fantastic takes on traditional brews. This is one of their better accomplishments, in my opinion.

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Photo of Lemke10
4.42/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This pours a dark brown/black color with very little head. The aroma is sweet with molasses, toffee, and caramel. The taste is heavy and sweet with coffee flavors. It starts thick and creamy and ends with a chalky, malt after taste. A uniquely made “Swedish Style Stout.”

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Photo of Cfred371
4.39/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I let the beer sit and warm for 10-15 minutes.
Look: the beer pours black, with a very slight tan head. There is little to no carbonation it appears.

Smell: I get raisins, vanilla, brown sugar.

Taste: Chocolate, vanilla and brown sugar come through strong, and dark fruits rise mid palate.

Feel: the beer seems a little light in body for a stout, certainly syrupy, but not as thick as I prefer. There is a light hop bitterness on the finish as well, leaving the mouth watering for more.

Overall: This beer is a nice surprise, and I'm happy that a town near my hometown has such good offerings.

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Photo of TastyTaste
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Absolutely pitch black, with a 1/4" creamy tan head, in a August Schell Tulip. Smells sharply of alcohol, and bitter coffee. A whole lot of alcohol runs circle around your mouth, followed by a big hit of coffee flavor. Some spiciness can also be detected, almost a cinnamon flavor. Mouthfeel is a little thin for the style, but does not detract for this badass beer. Drinkability is also very good, no off flavors, or anything that would make me not want to take my next sip. Very good beer, from a brewery that I have not had much luck with yet.

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Photo of nlmartin
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A giant thanks to jeffkrenner who sent this beer as part of BC-2. The beer was served at room temperature in a Imperial Nonic.

Appearance: The beer pours with a black hole blackness. The head of the beer is about 1 finger high. The head is a the color of lightly creamed coffee. Rings of lacing remain behind on my glass.

Smell: The beer has a very pleasing combination of chocolate, dark cocoa, light coffee, vaguely mineral and vanilla.

Taste: The beer presents the palate with a blend of dark semi sweet cafe vanilla mocha. The taste then goes slightly herbal and slightly mineral flavor. Then the beer explodes into a very deep chared roasting. If you dont like chared and deeply roasted avoid this beer.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: This beer is just shy of a heavy body. The beer has a very low carbonation. The flavors are long lasting and very much chared. I found this beer hard to put down. If I come across this beer again I will definately buy it.

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Photo of Gusler
4.36/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer is as dark as they can get, and that’s the way I like my beers, “cus you know dark beers are stronger”!

Head is modest in its stature, frothy in its texture and the color a pleasant light chocolate. The aftermath of the head disintegration is a fine veil of lace to seal off the glass. The aroma of toasted grains dominates the somewhat sweet and coffee like nose, quite a treat these Imperial stout aromas. Front is thickly malt and sweet with the top chocolate fudge rich and full in its feel to the palate. The chocolate and toasted or roasted grain sweetness carries to the very last with just moderate hop spiciness and the aftertaste bittersweet chocolate dry, a quite pleasant beer this one, you just got to love the Imperials robustness and hearty alcohol content, a real “Hoot”!

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Photo of CFbeermaker
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured "black, like midnight on a moonless night", with a small light brown head. Smells of roasted barley and chocolate with a sweet smell like a scotch and water. Tastes how it smells with a little smokiness and some faint floral hops at the end. Has a nice mouthfeel. Not as heavy of a beer as it looks and is actually quite smooth and pleasant to drink. It also seems to be getting better as I drink it which almost reminds me of a scotch on the rocks type feel.

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Photo of umustdrink
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Completely opaque black color. Head is a nice brown color that settles at an eighth inch. Lacing is in small patches.

S - Chocolate pudding, bananas, milk chocolate and a very light roast coffee.

T - Nice roasted malt flavor, I taste more chocolate where others might say its more like coffee. Some sweet vanilla, banana, and lighter chocolate tones. Finish is a nice light coffee.

M - Consistency is on the thin side but with a nice chalkiness. Taste sticks with you for a long time.

D - Very nice and pleasant all around. Will have again and will recommend.

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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 Rastacouere
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Almost black, deep coffee coloured, weird lacing punctuates the light brown head. Highly fruity nose, a different impy. Mango and orange.. a fruit salad as well as pure fudge, thick and coffeeish, toffee, coffee liqueur, now this makes one think of a good dessert. Original melon and mellow malts abound in mouth. Little to no hops taste, soft roastiness. Rather hard to describe, but feels like a nice change of pace. Moderately high carbonation, medium bodied, Belgian fruitiness. Good!

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Photo of garymuchow
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aroma notes strong alcohol. Fruity (dark). Molasses sweetness. Intensity fades in time.
Pours thick and syrupy. Head forms late and fades to a thin layer of tan bubbles that slowly fades away. Heavy black with reddish hues.
Alcohol dominates initial flavor too then moves to fruit and roast. MIldly bitter with dryish finish of roasty malt. Somewhat sweet, but not cloy.
Feel leaves a thick coating on the mouth and teeth. Heavy, Syrupy. Very fine bubbles. Not quite velvety, but pretty soft.
Fun way to start fall exploration of heavier beers. Recommended.

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Photo of mjmadsen21
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%

Photo of Westsidethreat
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours thick with a lot of viscosity to it. Deep, dark, ebony brown possesing no ability to allow light thru. Head raised momentarily then dropped to a film and dark beige ring.

S: Dried cocoa, angel food, cafe au lait, hints of orange liquer and minor hazelnut.

T: Immediate dark, dry bakers chocolate with glints of sour milk. Moments of anise hints and mild iced coffee move the adventure along. Generous amounts of bittering hops mixed with roasted grains add a nice bite to this brew. Finishes with some serious chocolate icing, alcohol highs and cafe mocha.

M: Medium body, full across the tongue.

D: This was a delicious beer. Very sweet and sugary but nothing cloying or obtrusive. Best Viking beer to date.

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Photo of darklordlager
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: As with other Viking brews, this one pops open without a sound. Poured into a pint glass with very light coating of head appears after an aggressive pour. Dark black, with a slightly brown edge when held up to the light.

S: Roasted and chocolate malt, loads of caramel malt (barleywine-ish) and a light backing of hop bitterness. For all the darker malts, this one smells very sweet rather than bitter or acidic.

T: Sweet milk chocolate right from the get-go. Slowly turns from sweet into bittersweet, with the roasted malt showing up near the finish along with a bit of hop bitterness. Well done on the roasted malt not making it overpowering. Raisin/dried fruit taste with the finish. Very nice.

M: Low carbonation, with a slick mouthfeel that coats the tongue for a long finish. Velvetty smooth, and works well with the low carbonation (unlike other Viking brews).

D: Very sweet and enjoyable. A nice beer from Dallas, Wisconsin.

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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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Photo of bnuttz
4.2/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a very dark brown almost black color, with a small creamy dark brown head. Smells of bitter chocolate and molasses mainly. Taste is very much different, has some definite winey notes. Very sweet upfront with a nice alcohol kicker. Taste is molasses, brown sugar, some coffee and dark chocolate notes, rounded out by grape and plum flavors. Very smooth and creamy on the mouth. Nicely drinkable, evern thought there is the alcohol presence. Very different for the style, but well made.

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Photo of Deuane
4.19/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to nflmvp for offering up this one and to unclejedi for given me the heads up on it during a recent visit to WI.

A-Dark brown, almost black, almost like cola. Not sure if it was my glass or maybe the age of the beer but this one had no head and left me disappointed.

S-Oak and vanilla notes blend nicely with rich coffee and chocolate. A most pleasant brew for inhaling.

T-Dark roasted coffee notes and biter dark chocolate flavor. Bourbonesque notes in the background too. All in all a bit muted compared to the aroma.

M-Medium bodied and maybe not quite as robust as I would have liked. Overall though good with a very nice smoothness.

D-A very nice brew from an unknown brewery to me. I was pleasntly surprised by the quality of this one. Totally solid...another please?

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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 happygnome
4.18/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a: pours a very dark black color with about a quarter inch of head that dissapears fast leaving a little ring around the edge of the glass
s: coffee cocoa with hints of bananna very inviting, no hints of alcohol
t: roasted malts cocoa and coffee no hints of the bannana that there was the slight hint of in the aroma
m: medium to to full bodied beer with average carbonation

overall, i really enjoyed this, very good will deffinatly pick up more

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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 ZAP
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Coal black...light reddish tint when held to the light..a nice little tan head...on the nose its java and sweet chocolate with the chocolate dominate...nice...sweet milk chocolate flavor dominates...very slight spciy alcoholic finish...big roasty maltiness...creamy, velvet like mouthfeel...Low carbonation works wonders in the mouth...thick but not heavily muscled like some...

i'm not a big fan of this brewery but this is a solid Imperial that is a notch below special...perhaps the best of the inconsistent Viking lot..

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Big Swede from Valkyrie Brewing
3.85 out of 5 based on 113 ratings.
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