Northwind Imperial Stout | Two Brothers Brewing Company

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very good
411 Reviews
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Northwind Imperial StoutNorthwind Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Two Brothers Brewing Company
Illinois, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.10%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Dark delights like this were once shipped to the imperial court of Russia. With a firm, roasty maltiness balanced against a generous helping of hops, Northwind can stand up to the worst its namesake can dish out! Enjoy it by a roaring fire.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 05-14-2002

BEER STATS
Reviews:
411
Ratings:
927
Avg:
3.77
pDev:
11.94%
 
 
Wants:
29
Gots:
84
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
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Reviews: 411 | Ratings: 927
Photo of blackie
3.31/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

appearance: The pour creates a pretty low tan head that almost immediately becomes just a ring around the glass. The beer is a really dark brown in color.

smell: Doesn't smell too imperial, but not bad. First I get some aromas of roasted grain and bittersweet chocolate, just a hint of molasses. Not much else to it. Lighter hop aroma.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is around the middle of the low range. The body is medium or just under it.

taste: Roasted malt, bittersweet and dark chocolates, decent hop flavor with a light to moderate bitterness.

drinkability: Nothing bad about this beer per se, but it is a little bland for the imperial style. Still, the ABV is well hidden and the beer goes down smooth.

Brought a bottle back from Madison, sat in the cellar fridge a couple months. Lot 3345 is printed on the label.

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Photo of Mikus
3.3/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured pitch black into a stemless wine glass (shoot me, my snifter was dirty), clean division between body and the cocoa-tinged head. Looks were the best quality unfortunately. Didn't live up to the IS moniker to me... slight roastiness and bitterness on the nose, with a weird smoky note too. Bit smoky and pleasantly bitter on the palate, actually the smokiness would be perfect if this was supposed to be a smoked beer)... lacked some of the bigger coffee and chocolate flavors I expect, and came off a bit thin on the mouthfeel. Upside is that the wife really liked it, and that has to be taken into account, I suppose. Wouldn't search this out, unless I was in the mood for a smoked porter.

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Photo of tpd975
3.3/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a nice deep dark abyss black hue with a 1/2 finger head. The head dies rather quickly and yields to a small bubbly collar. No lace.

S: Tons of dark fruit up front with hints of roasty malt. A nice tart stout.

T: Flavor really matches the nose. Dark fruit and more dark fruit right at the start. Figs, Raisins, and Dates are all there. Light hints of charred malt as well. This one is all about the fruit though.

M: Medium in body with a nice level of carbonation.

D: Pretty drinkable. Would like a touch of chocolate, smoke, or coffee though.

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Photo of mecummins
3.29/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

A- poured a dark dark brown color. Very rich looking. Produced a 1 & 1/2 finger dark tan head. The foam dissipated very quickly, however, leaving a thin film to cover the beer. Bits of lacing here and there, but nothing really exciting.

S- dark chocolate, coffee and some roasted malts. There was a sweetness there as well.

T- sort of disappointing at first. The taste did not live up to the aroma at all. There was a harsh alcohol taste on the front note, followed by the bitterness of the chocolate & coffee. As it warmed though, it grew a bit sweeter and better balanced. I enjoyed it a lot more after it sat out for 20 minutes or so.

M- very lush and rich mouthfeel. It had a chewy quality to it. Medium finish

O- it was a decent stout that I'd drink again, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it.

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Photo of beerwolf77
3.28/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had on tap at Milrose while in Illinois. Served in a fucking pilsner glass. Not cool.

A: Pitch black, small beige head, modest lace. No cap or retention.

S: Roasty black coffee. Lots of sweet chocolate. Maybe a hint of wet cardboard.

T: Mild roast black coffee. Some chocolate. Not the most powerful flavors. Hint of dish soap in the finish.

M: Full body with very low carbonation.

D: Maybe it was the glass but this one was sort of a chore to get down. If I see it in the bottle I will give it a second chance.

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Photo of clvand0
3.28/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown with a very small tan head that doesn't stay long. A little light comes around the edges. The aroma has a strong presence of roasted malt and coffee. Promising. The flavor has a lot of coffee in it and not much else. It also seems like the body could have a little more. Seems a bit watered down and thin for an imperial stout. Not a bad brew, but not the best imperial.

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Photo of drewbage
3.27/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Beer sampled on 4/7/2004 at the Clark Street Ale House in Chicago. Arrived in a standard pint glass.

Straight pint blacker than black on co2 service. No head

Aroma is nutty and toasted corn with a long tobacco burnt at the edges.

Flavor is intensely sweet off the 'stache with a large coffee bite with a good finish that has a slight bite of metal and licorice

Body is actually a bit thin for the notion of an Imperial Stout. Probably best to think of this as an Foreign Export.

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.25/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance -- Pours dark brown with one finger of fizzy chocolate head. Not much for head retention, but the persistent dirty halo is a plus. Ho hum.

Smell -- Well-roasted malt, dark chocolte, coffee with cream, and a hint of char. A bit more like a milk stout, truthfully, but still quite good.

Taste -- First impressions are sweet: mellow malt roastiness, chocolate, and coffee with cream. As the beer goes down some mild sour and acrid dark roast flavors begin to develop to lend some balance to the mocha-esque sweetness. Sure this isn't a milk stout?

Mouthfeel -- A hair heavier than medium-bodied, medium fluffy carbonation. RIS methinks not.

Drinkability -- Had you told me this was a milk stout, I would've given it much higher marks. Really lacks the complex character and dark fruit elements that typify the RIS style. That said, there's enough going on in the flavor profile to make it interesting and enjoyable. Glad I tried it, but might not seek it out again.

 977 characters

Photo of kmpitz2
3.25/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a deep dark brown. Thereis just a hint of light through the top and there is no head except a small tan rim around the top. The nose has some dark raisin/fig tones to it along with a bit of mocha as well. The flavor was not what I would expect; it was thin coffee, almost a bit watery and weak. The feel was also a bit thin as well with a hint of creamyness. Drinkability is just ok. Its a decent beer, but not really special.

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Photo of BFro
3.24/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nothing over the top about this effort from Two Bros. Not sure if it's the norm with other batches of North wind, but the bottle I poured had tons of sediment. Looked like orange rind pieces. Whatever it was made the end of the glass start to taste like a bitter orange peel. Otherwise it was a par effort on this imperial stout. Not the best I've had, but not the worse either. Probably wouldn't buy again, but if someone offered me one, I'd drink it.

Characteristics: smoky, matly, slight dark chocolate, bitter orange rind. Drinks smooth though. Not overly harsh/bitter as some stouts in this genre can be.

 611 characters

Photo of jwinship83
3.23/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- black body with a full finger of beige head with heavy lacing.

S- Roasted malts, chocolate, some ripe dark fruits maybe.

T- chocolate and roasted malt upfront. the finish was sour??? not sure how i feel about that...

M- a little thin and watery for my likes. very creamy and smooth

D- theres little to no trace of alcohol in this one, but the thinness and sour aftertaste make it so finishing more than one wouldnt be desirable. im going to have to try this one again fresh and maybe change the review. a sour RIS makes me think something was wrong with this bottle, maybe the liquor store i got it from didnt treat it as well as they could have.

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Photo of shanblur
3.22/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. No date present on the bottle.

A - Pours opaque black with a minimal tan head which fades quickly to a minimal ring with very light lacing.

S - Roasted malts predominate with muted chocolate and coffee aromas

T - Roasted malts with a hint of smoke. A nice chocolate and espresso flavor as well. Minimal hop presence detected on the finish.

M - Dense with a light carbonation

This is a nice beer. I have had both better and worse. I would not go out of my way to have another one.

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Photo of chadn
3.22/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Review is of the 12-oz bottle, bought from local store 3 months before pouring.

Ratings based on comparison to other beers in this class.

Appearence: dark brown/black beer, like a proper stout. Poured like water, almost no bubbles, and no head. Slight lacing that lasts only a couple seconds on sides.

Smell: Mostly roasted, slight vanilla and chocolate

Taste: Definitely roasted, bitter, slightly sour, chocolate, and hardly any hint of alcohol, which is surprising considering 9% ABV. Dry finish.

Mouth: Smooth and rich. Some carbonation like a cola, which is unexpected. Dry and clean finish.

Overall: Tastes good but not the best stout. Definitely does not taste like a 9% ABV beer .. more like 6%. Strong roasted stout with a dry finish makes it easy to keep drinking this one.

 789 characters

Photo of brewandbbq
3.22/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Batch 36, 22oz bottle from at least a few years ago.

Pours blackish with brown edging and barely a trace of tan head. A flat surface with zero lacing for the duration.

Aromatics lead off with roast, char, chocolate, and a hint of coffee. Hints of Oreo shells and brownies.

On the fuller side of medium bodied with a slickish, slightly flat mouthfeel. Thin for the style.

Brownie bits, Hershey syrup, and roasted malts start the palate. Hints of dark chocolate and coffee grounds follow through.

Finishes quickly with fading chocolate and roast.

This is like a RIS-mini, or even closer to a Porter. The classic RIS profile is subdued in every way and the beer is thin and flatish with no warmth on the throat.

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Photo of jbphoto88
3.21/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Another charcoal black beer during the time of year when it's most appropriate. This one is too dark to see through and has a lightly milked coffee head to it that is vey bubbly.

Right when you start pouring this beer is when you get the malt punch in the face. There is deep roasted notes with a hint of black licorice. The grains seem a little stale and musty to be a great scent but it's passable and definitely an imperial stout.

The taste is a lot like the nose. Predominantly grains that are roasted to yield touches of chocolate, coffee and dark fruits. However again they fall short as in the nose. The taste doesn't have a huge character but little tid bits of flavor that are notes but not a complete song.

Mouthfeel is excellent for an imperial stout. Smooth, creamy and shy on the carbonation. The slick feel coats your mouth and leaves you with a nice malty aftertaste. A good beer but not really one that pushes the limits or raises the bar. Good enough to drink but there are better ones to be had.

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Photo of zjungleist
3.2/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nearly black in color, slightly brown, but poured almost zero head. The smell is basically burnt, but it's hard to tell since it is so very faint. The flavor proved to be more of an eye opener, with some fairly intense burnt malt flavors, but that's about all. Not much coffee, chocolate, but those flavors grow as I drink. The hops are there in the background, but nothing to write home about. The mouth feel is pretty thin, thinner than I expected. The carbonation is low, but it cuts through the thin beer like a knife. At least it's not syrupy. The 8.5% (as listed on my bottle) is masked well, though. Unfortunately, I am just not all that impressed with this beer, and as I recall, I was not impressed by my last one from Two Brothers. It seems like they cut too many corners to achieve the style.

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Photo of mmcave
3.18/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Purchased at Sams and cracked at a time when I was. Chilled a little under cellar and then thrown under warm water to expedite the process. Used a tumbler, the color is dark coffee black, with half inch tan nougat color head, with expectable lacing. Smells slight fruit esters which I did not expect in a RIS, but this is not necessarily unwelcome. There is some toffee, coffee, grape-ness. The taste is decent, but I feel like its lacking in several key areas namely strength, body and focus. Where I was expecting these things I got a couple other interesting things like some fruit and maybe some extra chocolate or coffee than usual, but these things to me do not make up the lack of the other stuff. This is not a bad RIS, but after tasting the good stuff "storm king", stuff like this is far less tasty. I for sure will not buy this again, but if it comes to you for free try it and you'll better understand the good stuff.

 929 characters

Photo of Treebs
3.18/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle poured into a Deschutes Snifter on Thanksgiving.

A: Pours a black color with dark brown edges. Looks a little thin. 2 finger light khaki head forms on the pour with pretty decent retention and a very bubble body.

S: Roasted biscuit malts and slight baker chocolate. Not really pungent and I have dig for it. Very light.

T: Slightly roasty and bitter bakers chocolate with some toasted malts. Again it dissipates quickly like the nose leaving a little more to be desired.

M: A little too thin and not much flavor retention on the palate.

O: Too thin a little and a little one dimensional in terms of the flavor profiles. Not a bad beer, but not one I'm going to seek out again.

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Photo of Ryan011235
3.17/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap, in a pint glass at Bodega in Columbus, OH on 1/2/10

A - Dark brown, nearly black in color. 1/8th inch layer of tan head. Thin retention. No lacing.

S - Subtle nose of roasted malts. Notes of coffee & earthy hops. Dark sugars & faint dark fruit, maybe prunes.

T - Plenty of chocolate with mild coffee notes. Undertones of brown sugar & molasses. Roasted dark malts. Modest hop twinge around the edges with hints of citrus. Rather sweet. Something in there seems almost medicinal.

M - Full bodied with low carbonation; it's smooth & creamy. A bit of alcohol slickness is present.

D - Easy enough to drink; it's decent overall. Not particularly interesting & maybe a touch too sweet.

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Photo of ProfessorHops
3.16/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I served myself this beer in a pint sized frosted mug. Unfortunately this alter the natural appearance. But the bottle I bought was self weight and not refrigerated. I wanted to taste this brew badly and fast. My first Imperial stout...

I poured it into the mug. It's appearance is very bold and sinister. Beer poured like most stouts.

First taste I was surprised in the flavor. A hallow maltness, with elements of spring water and cedar.

The pallet is very fast and the finish seams to strike more earlier than most brews. The finish is long and hard and introduces the accents of the drinks flavor of coffee and chocolate.

I'm more of a fan of easer to drinks beers, and this one is not at all easy to drink. It burns and is very filling, but with that said I really enjoyed this brew. The long finish with it's very detailed avenues of maltness. This beer taste awesome. But drinks honorably. Which is perfect for the style.

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Photo of jsh420
3.15/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

batch #3508

pours jet black with a 1 finger head that fades fast and leaves no lacing

smell cocoa and sweet dark fruits

taste is a little thin - dark fruit coco and cola?

mouthfeel is very thin for a RIS

drinkability is so so - i want more from a RIS

overall there are better irish dry's then this - not a beer i will seek out again but will see how it ages

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Photo of Jredner
3.15/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Aroma is fairly hoppy, but with an odd lager-like aroma and very little roastiness, but some minor coffee notes. A deep black body lies beneath a dminishing mocha hued thin film of a head. Flavor is a nicely burnt/roasted melange of coffee and dark chocolate, hearty dark fruits and malt. Alcohol is almost unoticeable and the palate is thinnish.

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Photo of frazbri
3.13/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Northwind Imperial Stout from Two Brothers Brewing had a black body topped by a thick, tall, tan head. The aroma contained notes of dark chocolate and coffee with an underlying fruitiness. Cocoa and charcoal were two of the main flavor components. Body was medium/full with moderate carbonation.

This stout was most notable for it's roasty flavor. Beyond the roastiness, it needed to be amped up a little more to be a great impy. Imperial stouts are not subtle beers. Northwind needed more body and flavor.

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Photo of BB1313
3.11/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Pours black with a nice fluffy khaki, off-white head. This one leaves nice film and lacing. The aromas are very malty. There are subtle hints of chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and butterscotch. There's also some black coffee in the aromas as well. The flavors are pretty typical for a Russian Imperial Stout. Roasted chocolate is there giving it a decent bitterness. There's also some roasted coffee in the mix as well. There's barely any alcohol noticeable. Finishes pretty bitter. Mouthfeel is pretty nice. It's light and watery, but smooth and fluffy. Moderate carbonation. Easy drinking.

This is basically just an average Russian Imperial Stout. Not bad, but there's really nothing that makes it stand out.

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Photo of birchstick
3.1/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - pours a black color without much of a head

S - smells of roasted coffee and rich chocolates

T - starts off with some sweet cocoa that quickly becomes some roasted malt / coffee that fades to some dark chocolates. Not uber complex or deep, but very rich overall with its flavors.

M - medium to full body with a silky smooth mouthfeel. Pretty solid mouthfeel.

D - I can't say this was my favorite RIS I have ever had, but it was pretty delicious. For the price I paid, this was a pretty good deal.

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Northwind Imperial Stout from Two Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 411 ratings.
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