Big Swede | Valkyrie Brewing

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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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Reviews: 89 | Ratings: 113
Photo of Fartknocker
2.28/5  rDev -40.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12 ounce bottle from a Viking sampler pack

A- very dark brown color with little to no head

S- similar to a coffee stout

T- rather bitter with an even more bitter aftetaste.

M- average, nothing exceptional

D- one was more than enough for me. the bitter tatse and funky aftertaste of one was enough for me

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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 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 Popkas
3.17/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Whoa. This was a shock. I glanced at a few other reviews and saw things like "1.5 fingers" and even "no head". Not sure what is going on with mine, but it poured like root beer hitting vanilla ice cream! The liquid that I could actually see was a deep brown with red undertones.

S: Dark sweet malts.

T: Deep roasted malt, some dark fruit and a touch of a bitter coffee like after taste.

M: Thick and creamy with a bit of fiz.

D: Once the mountain of head died down a little, the drinkability is ok. Not a favorite by any stretch but worth a try.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.2/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Picked this up while I was in Wisconsin. After the horrid beer from Viking that is called Hot Chocolate, I am hoping for something a little more palatable.

A: Pour dark brown/black, no light passes through, no head to speak of, decent amount of lacing

S: smell of deep roasted malts, molasses, licorice, dark chocolate, no noticeable hop presence

T: lots of sweet malts up front as the nose suggests, dark fruits, lots of licorice, this brew leads towards the sweet side and leaves a sweetness lingering on the tongue, a little too sweet for my liking as far as the style goes, the roasted malts don't come through on the palate like they do on the nose which is a slight dissapointment

MF: a tad thin for and RIS, sticky, syrupy

D: takes a hit in this category due to the heavy sweetness that lingers on the palate. This beer is much better than Hot Chocolate, but it isn't an RIS I would seek out again

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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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Photo of ArrogantB
3.41/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer was a very dark black pour into a pint glass since I didn;t feel like using a snifter. The head is short and white but hangs around a little. Not a bad RIS but then again, nothing special here. I probably would not buy this beer if it were available. I am not quite sure what made it Swedish style?

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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours jet black with a small light tan head. In the aroma, smokey and sweet coffee, In the taste, a sweet oatmeal maltiness. A smooth big bodied mouthfeel and a dry malty and coffee aftertaste. Smooth and nice coffee presence. ABV is not known but was not really tasted, has to be lighter for a imperial stout.

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Photo of Mdog
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black, almost no head at all.

Smell: Some chocolate, and maybe a little banana?

Taste: Starts sweet and roasty, then dark chocolate bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium, not as heavy as a lot of imp. stouts.

Drinkability: Pretty good stuff.

This is a pretty good beer from Viking. It's not as amped up as other imperial stouts but has more there than a regular stout. One of their better offerings.

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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 Chaz
3.6/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours an inky-black to the eye. When held to direct light it's more like a deep crimson-brown, but it's pretty darn dark at any rate. A medium-firm pour produces a darker tan head, with good retention and lacing. The nose is fairly non-descript by comparison to many other renditions in the style, with dark and caramelized/burnt malts, and light notes of toffee, bitter chocolate, and licorice. Lightly fusel and boozy - hooray booze! A bit more expressive on the first sip, with the roasted malts and semi-sweet / bittersweet chocolate notes making an immediate impression. Some of those dark malts seem bitter (burnt) and acrid, and in this case help to balance out the rather cloying sweetness of this brew. Fairly warming and certainly quite warming as it warms, the alcohol is nonetheless "cooler" on the palate and in the aromatics than I recall it being back in the bomber bottle days. Notes of sweet red apple, plum, date, and lighter licorice. Body seems a bit thin for the style but this doesn't harm the drinkability, and might actually improve it. Mouthfeel is just about average (I'm erring on the side of familiarity . . . ) This is perhaps a bit more "average" than I recall (especially with the scores of great RIS and American Stout renditions available these days), and is sweeter than I like in the style. Still, Big Swede is a solid brew worth revisiting. A sipper, well-suited toward cooler months, as well as a dessert beer ready and waiting for a cigar or two to mellow out with.
Served chilled, in a bulb.

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Photo of Casey10
3.63/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was a extra I recieved in a trade. I thought it wasw okay somewhat watery for a RIS. It has its upsides and downsides of course. I can not rightly recomed this or really want to try it again.

I may be biased so I am not giving this a high recomendation or directions as to find this.

Again not bad, but there is so much better out there.

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Photo of Greggy
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Pitch black body with a tan (band-aid color) head, pretty thick at 1.5 fingers height. As it recedes, it leaves a decent coating of lacing.

S- Big Chocolate, some cream, a bit of graham cracker, some dark fruits, and some sweeter Hershey's chocolate notes. Very sweet smelling.

T- Starts out with a very sweet chocolate that is a bit cloying. I would like to have seen a much larger bitterness right off to balance the show. There is quite a bit of sweetness in there that almost has fruity (think orange) brightness. The finish is much like the start: Sweet and not overly complex.

M- Feels a little thin for a russian impy. Carbonation is low which I like.

D- This isn't a bad beer at all, but it has room for improvement. A hoppier edge would be very nice and would really help the lack of complexity.

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Photo of demcorhip
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew poured a dark black, with a hint of ruby around the edges when held up to light. No head, and essentially no lacings in this very slightly carbonated beer.

The burnt malts produced bitter scents of espresso and dark chocolate. Creamy notes also present, as well as a faint floral grassiness.

The burnt malts produced flavours of dark chocolate and dark roasted coffee. A hint of oak? An even lesser hint of vanilla? Some sweeter roasted malts present with a touch of caramel, and the mild earthy, floral, and grassy contribution from the hops and yeast compliment the bitter flavours.

This is a medium bodied flavourful and balanced brew. Its mostly roasted bitterness is balanced nicely with some creaminess and sweeter malts, as well as the earthy, floral, and grassy notes. Not much carbonation in this offering.

This is a tasty, drinkable, almost big beer. Not quite session fare, and certainly not crossover fare, except maybe for those who are big fans of espresso or dark chocolate. A good, substantial drink on a cold weather day.

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Photo of Crosling
3.67/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown color with a light brown head. Mild and a bit disappointing aroma. Fairly good, but not great in the flavor profile. A bit sparse and poorly extracted, not much complexity or character. Finishes fairly well though, with lingering chocolate character.

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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 walleye
3.71/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

thanks to sully (from the other site) at the kuhnhenn gathering on 6/10. from the bottle, poured dark like coke, with smal off white head that didn’t last very long. aroma, coffee, dark cherries, roasted malts, and a nice touch of apples and hints of alcohol. flavor a bit on the weak side, nothing like the aroma, coffee, malts sweet fruits.

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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 SaCkErZ9
3.72/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to unclejedi for this one.

Served from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Pitch black with absolutely no highlights or light penetration of any kind. A very small and faint, beige colored head forms. It is wispy and rades rapidly. No lacing.

Aroma is very sweet. Chocolate malts, molasses, plums, figs, any other dark fruit out there, a touch of vanilla, licorice.

A little on the sweet side. Alcoholic as well. Sticky, fruity. This one is quite boozy. Mostly chocolate malts, minimal coffee, more dark fruit. Dried plums really seem to be he overwhleming flavor here. And did I mention the alcohol?

A bit thin. Finishes rather dry, almost bone dry. Fruity aftertaste and a burning heat from the alcohol.

I wouldnt go so far as to say this one is a solvent-like beer, but the abv really shows. I dont mind it too much. 12oz is certainly enough of this one. The heat and alcohol feel make this low on th drinkability scale. Certainly a sipper.

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Photo of budgood1
3.73/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a swedish style imperial stout, eh? sounds interesting....
out of the 22oz. bomber this "big swede" pours out thick and rich, deep and dark; with ruby tints...a thin but firm tan head appears and reduces down to a fine and sticky lace. very aromatic...i can smell it sitting in the glass from a distance. big time ripe fruits such as plum, prune and raisin come to mind. i was expecting a explosion of flavour upon tasting, but the strongest sensation is i get is the high ABV...which isn't bad. hints of yeasty sourness are followed by smooth chocolate covered cherries, rum soaked raisins, black malted barley, and a nice belly warming booziness. all these understated flavours meld quite nicely into a rewarding stout experience. the body is full; the mouthfeel somewhat syrupy, smooth and slick. although fairly easy drinking, i find myself content to sip on this one, as the high ABV is making my face flush. in fact, i wish there was more of a pronounced flavour profile and less of the increasingly evident alcohol smackdown. nonetheless, i find this to be a rather unique imperial stout. definitely worth a try.
thanks to the future wife for bringing this back from wisconsin a few months ago!

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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 BeerBuilder
3.74/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep murky brown color, almost black. Head is non-existent, just a ring of light brown. The aroma is souring, apple-like and lactic, with a nice malty backbone. I get some alcohol in the aroma as well. The flavor is malty and somewhat creamy with a coffee-like maltiness, and just lightly roasty. It is very drinkable for an imperial stout. Medium in body with just a bit of drying bitterness in the finish. Not too bad.

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

A big and reach beer with some mixed blessings; thin in body and very light on carbonation (even for an Imperial Stout), but with some nice flavor and drinkability. Pretty good.

Color is (of course) black. Body is a bit thin. Carbonation is virtually non-existent; it looked like a glass of wine when I poured it into a tulip. Aroma was surprisingly robust to me given the thinness of body; it smelled to me a lot like bourbon. Flavor was definitely not bourbon-y; roasty with a lot of fruit notes that reminded me of raisins. Pretty good.

I would recommend this. Very liquor/spirit like.

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Photo of iron78
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Is as black as i've seen a beer. Didn't get any head, just a few bubbles. That might go with the aroma, alcohol. Strong alcohol smell with a touch of roasted burnt coffee.
Firt thing I taste is more alcohol. Once I get past that I get some raisin, or date or fig, some sort of dried fruit soaked in rum. Just a touch of coffee flavor, kind of a coffee liquor.
A bit watery feeling. Maybe low carbination hurts the feel.
While not ideal, overall is an enjoyable strong stout.

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Photo of Skidz
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out dark brown and sits almost entirely black in the glass with a small fluffy/creamy tan head.

SMells of brown sugar, chocolate and coffee, primarily. Light alcoholic presence and some fruity esters, strangely to be found, apples.

Bitter up front, roasty. A mild and tangy sourness comes out. Caramel sweetness and brown sugar blended with chocolate and espresso with a coffee-like bitterness. Finish is lighter than expected and mildly bitter, but with lingering sweetness.

Smooth, rich and silky all over. Big, full body with light carbonation. An easy stout to drink, but I've got to try aging this one, as it seems a bit "young" to me.

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