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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 113 |  Reviews: 89
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 expatsteve
3.94/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a thick, black color with no head and only a little lacing. Low/medium viscosity.

Aroma: Wonderfully fruity aroma - raisins and lemon peel over chocolate and molasses produces a compelling slightly sour nose.

Taste: Immediate fruit sourness that is reminiscent of a vintage port. Big plums and raisins, a little brown sugar, balanced by a great bitter finish. Nice sweet chocolate malts. Develops a little lactic sourness as it warms. Nice to find such big flavors in an affordable beer - particularly with the balance in flavor that this has.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation provides a pleasant, creamy mouthfeel. Good cleansing bitterness in the finish along with a chocolate malt aftertaste.

Drinkability: Very drinkable for a complex beer. Nice fruity finish not normally found in stronger stouts makes Big Swede a nice almost unique rendition of the style. Given the price and availability in these parts, this is well worth checking out.

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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 weeare138
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to hopdog for this...
Appears a dense black with a frothy, 2 finger tan head that slowly fades into a film and collar. Plenty of beautiful lacing is left all around the glass.
Smell is of black currants, fudgey chocolate, toasted nuts, and a touch of citrusy orange infused with blackstrap molasses.
Taste is of the lovely aromas with a well blended taste and perhaps a hint of anise in the background. Well done.
Mouthfeel is full bodied, chewy, sweet of raisins and molasses, and a roastyness that seems to be the right amount to make this enjoyable.
I'm not sure if I was just in a good mood, or what but I really enjoyed drinking this one. I liked the flavors and everything came together nicely for me. I wish I had more.
Thanks again, Steve! I've been wanting to try this one for a few years.

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Photo of aforbes10
3.79/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with NO HEAD. NONE. huh, i don't think ive seen a beer with absolutely no head (except for a couple of homebrews that didn't carbonate). Looks a bit thin too. Odor is kind of fruity and yeasty, with some roasted malt undertones.
Taste is actually pretty good. Deeply roasted coffee with a nice sweet bitterness. Pretty good body too, which is in defiance of the thin looking appearance. Other flavors are chocolate, hops and a strange saltiness which i'll ascribe to the sea air those vikings are obviously brewing in. Pre-tasting, not a, I'd have another.

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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 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 KarlHungus
4.06/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This brew pours an opaque black color. The head is a quarter inch in height and tan in color. The aroma is creamy and butter with some very faint chocolate, and is rather boring for an Imperial Stout. It isn't bad but there is so much more that could be going on that it is disappointing. The taste is a whole lot better than the aroma. It fills your mouth with chocolate and cream, and leaves a nice warming alcohol feel in your throat. The mouthfeel is perfect. It is full bodied with low carbonation, and oh so smooth. I do believe that this is one of the smoothest beers I have had out of a bottle. Overall, this brew would have achieved greatness is not for its average aroma. Still, I do recommend it, and will certainly drink it again.

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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 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 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 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 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 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 fisherman34
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled sample. Very dark brown in colour... almost black. Aromas of citrus hops, soy, chocolate and coffee. Strong and sweet malty flavor, with notes of berry fruit, coffee, chocolate, prune. Minimal carbonation. It could use some more time to even out, but this is still nice to drink now.

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Photo of beergeek279
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in the 22 oz. bottle into a dimple pint. The color is jet black, with a slightly lingering layer of bubbly beige head. The smell is oak-dominated with a bit of a molasses/chocolate sweetness in there. The taste is a good mix of a bourbon smoky flavor and a complimentary molasses/chocolate sweetness, along with a lingering coffee-ish bitterness and a good bit of warming alcohol. Mouthfeel seems just a touch thin. As for drinkability, this is nice and would have a couple of these on a colder day.

Thanks to the 'monk for this bottle in the Secret Bunny. A very nice imperial stout with a good mix of smokiness and sweetness, with unfortunately a thin mouthfeel for the style. A beer that's quite enjoyable and one I would have again.

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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 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 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 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 Boto
4.08/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber: This one pours a bit "thick". It is a syrupy dark brown color. There was a firm, tan head on it. It drops away leaving some nice lacing. The aroma is quite nice. Major doses of sweetness and chocolate. Maybe some fruits also. The taste is very chocolatey. A faint hit of bitterness in the aftertatse. A very silky mouthfeel. Nice.

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

Dark cola brown to black. Doesn’t look as thick as some imperial stouts I’ve had. Small sand-colored head.
Smarties candy sweet malt, cocoa, sour raisins, whiskey, alcohol, and some Viking yeast make up the interesting nose.
Tastes of sweet tangy plums with smoky peat accents. Dark chocolate and Canadian whiskey surface and lead to a medium roasty bitterness. Hops aren’t well defined, but are certainly bitter. Finish is bitter with a strong, sweet, alcoholic malt presence. My favorite Viking brew so far. A tangy interpretation of a great style. Big bodied, with a chewy mouthfeel, although not as big as some imperial stouts.

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Photo of Bierman9
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep, dark brown color...nearly black. Even when held up to a light there was nothing coming through. Head was very short, almost to the point of not being there. Simply a bit of tan bubbles doing a rim job. Minimal lacing as well. Nose was roasty chocolate, with heavy notes of dark fruit, especially raisins. Big Swede had a soft feel on the tongue. Body was just about medium, though if it had been fuller and chewier I'd have rated it higher here. Flavor abounds with dark fruit...a lovely melange of raisins and currants melding in with some cappucino-like notes. A smidge of floral hops arises near the finish, which is somewhat dryish and has some bitter chocolate touches in the aftertaste. Pretty decent brew, though not as complex as some Imperials. Thnx to Tavernjef and BIF3 for sending this my way. Zum Wohl!!

overall: 3.9
appearance: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 4


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