Northwind Imperial Stout | Two Brothers Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
BA SCORE
85
very good
411 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
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:
932
Avg:
3.77
pDev:
18.04%
 
 
Wants:
29
Gots:
84
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 411 | Ratings: 932
Photo of k2pantan
3.35/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

a: poured out looking mostly black. appears dark brownish/red in the light. very little head, light brownish in color, that dissipated fairly quickly

s: smoky, coffee, with chocolate undertones

t: first thing noticed was the coffee and chocolate flavor which then evolved to a more bitter taste. i was expecting more of a lasting taste but it just wasn't there

m: medium body....not too light or heavy. if anything, it didn't have a creamy, more full bodied feel which is a sensation that i enjoy most out of imps.

d: goes down easy without any offense but it's not something that i would buy again.

 611 characters

Photo of balconybrew
3.85/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip glass. Leaves an expresso colored thin head and a dark liquid.

Smell - Hint of malt, Overwhelming smoked plums and minimal raisins. Sight hops.

Taste - much like the smell. Slightly more hops and roasted malt than smell. Malt becomes gets slightly stronger towards the end. Some fruity sourness. As it warms, the alcohol comes out.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full bodied.

Drinkability - Alcohol warms you a little much for more than one.

 486 characters

Photo of malcontent
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A deep, dark liquid that produces little head and minimal lacing.

Plums, smoke, sour fruit, and alcohol make for a very unexpected nose. Not what I generally look for in the nose of a Russian Imperial, but it's not an unwelcome change from the average take on this style.

Begins startlingly on the sour side (not like a Flemish sour) for the genre but opens up with nice fruity qualities complimented by the dark bread flavors that follow. There are strange hints of cola/root beer and citrus on the finish (could they have used too many hops?). An unusual and not entirely enjoyable take on the RIS. The alcohol, however, is brilliantly masked (the bottle claims 8.5%, NOT the 7.5% listed by BA).

Some don't care for syrupy beers but I look for a thickness in an RIS that is lacking here. In addition, for mostly having non-existant head this is much more carbonated than I could have guessed. Liked certain aspects of this but I don't know if I'd have another.

OK, why are the scores so high? This beer improves in a massive way as it warms up. Rich, roasted malt tones become more pronounced as does the nuanced sweetness. Drink this just under room temp and I think you'll enjoy it a whole lot.

 1,210 characters

Photo of ultralarry2006
3.48/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle. Leaves an espresso foam colored one finger head that quickly recedes into just a foam ring at the edges, and leaves not much lacing. Body is almost black, being the deepest possible brown.

Smell - some unexpected horse blanket, cloves and bananas, - strange coming from an RIS. Hint of the expected roasted malt, but just a hint.

Taste - similiar to the smell. The horse blanket, cloves, and bananas, over malt bread. Also there is a bit, but just a bit, of a tangy hop bite. Some roasted malt becomes more prominent on the finish, but it is mixed with the horse blanket sourness.

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, and fluid.

Drinkability - this is decent, but not great. High abv also holds down sessionability.

 746 characters

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 EPseja
3.82/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Ego for scoring a case of this and and sharing it. Served from a 22oz bomber in a Duvel Tulip at just below cellar temperature.

A - Pours syrupy and thick with an almost black color. The head seems to be missing, but gradually forms as the bubbles struggle to find their way through the viscosity -- medium cocoa brown; settling to a thick film atop the beer that eventually disappears altogether. Lacing is nonexistant. A good start, but terrible longevity.

S - Big somewhat creamy semi-sweet chocolate nose with only fleeting hints of sweeter hoppiness. Light notes of sugar plums and molasses. Some (thankfully) sheer notes of soy as it warms... ick.

T - Starts with an interesting heavily toasted, yet sweet coffee maltiness. The middle shows a light tartness from the yeast, and a salt-water taffy character. A very refreshing hoppiness pops in the back of the throat afterward. Aftertaste is surprisingly green and semi-sweet. Alcohol is very well hidden.

M - Chewy barely discribes the thickness of this beer -- it's almost too thick. Too light on carbonation (I never thought I'd hear myself say that), and big on body. Mouth and throat coating as well as slick. Rolls around like hot caramel. Not filling in the belly though, which is very good.

D - After doing a monster RIS tasting, this one falls squarely in the above average category, with not a detriment to be found. Still, there are points where it could be more exciting, but it's nice to have a "go to" RIS when a bomber of most others would put you over the edge of comfortable.

 1,574 characters

Photo of badbeer
3.78/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark black with a tan colored head; it even had a bit of a reverse cascade to it. Smell was of cocoa, chocolate, earthy hops and roasted coffee. Taste was much of the same, but this beer felt a little green to me, and the others who tried it. It had a very nice finish to it, and we seemed to agree that with a bit more age on it, this would be a much better beer than it already is. Higher side of medium bodied and lower carbonation. This was pretty nice, and I am going to pick up a couple bombers to age next time. I think this one gets much better with time.

 572 characters

Photo of MillRat
4.13/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The pour from the 22 oz bomber is true to impy stout form. The dark brown stream from the bottle allows the barest amount of light through, and once it's in the glass its opaque black. The head is a finely bubbled cocoa brown, which dissipates quickly.

The aroma is chocolatey roasts with the the barest hint of earthy English hops.

The taste shows off the brothers signature maltiness, balanced well against a double bitterness from both the roasted grains and a solid hops note. It does not have the cloying body that plagues some imps. As with the brothers other high-alcohol brews, you won't realize how powerful it is until you read the label or stand up. At least their label gives you fair warning.

The mouthfeel more moderate than many other impy stouts, but it does not sin on the thin side.

Unlike most other imperials that leave you sated after a bottle or two, I would have glady had another one or six of these, and that would have left me pretty useless for rest of the day. It is dangerously drinkable, which is quite an accomplishment in this style.

 1,077 characters

Photo of alexgash
3.45/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Inky dark brown to black with a small, short-lived, light cocoa brown head. Nose of fresh-roasted grains, rye bread, chocolate pudding, and swampy cocoa beans. Roasted bitterness up front followed by moderate chocolate and dark fruit. A little astringent throughout. Dark chocolate bitterness in the finish. Not too bad. A lighter, medium-bodied stout that runs a little thin for my likes.

 389 characters

Photo of SPLITGRIN
4.1/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

With a vigorous pour you do get a inch and a half of milk chocolate colored head setting atop an oil black body. Very sweet rich smokey malt feel on the nose with a nice chocolate feel. Smooth and silky thin as it enters the mouth. Very pronounced sweetness and maltiness is soft and mocha like. There is a coffee like bitterness that lingers a bit on the finish. Alchol is well hidden. Mouthfeel is very soft for a Imperial Stout. Not one of your more bolb entries in this style catagorie, but very drinkable.

 510 characters

Photo of HardTarget
3.6/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle Inspection: Gives some technical info, 18.2 Plato, 12 fl. oz. 45 IBU, 7.5% abv. No date, but Lot 45 listed on the back.

Aroma: Richly roasted malts, nice noble hop edge, dark roasted coffee

Appearance: Opened with a very firm pop, and slowly began the climb to gushing. The pour was pure foam. The whole bottle was over carbonated. Once I got it into a mug (with several pours) it was deep black, no edge, little head and no lace.

Flavor: Rich roasted malts are first and foremost, some coffee flavor, mild hop bitterness keeps it all in line, and just some slight oxidation gives minor paper but some nice complexity.

Mouthfeel: After all the gushing, it was a bit flat. Medium body.

Overall Impression: Too bad about the carbonation level, it took away from a really good beer. It’s kind of nice to see the pros have some struggles with that as well as I. A great beer.
Thanks to mattcrill (Stoutness) for the trade.

 944 characters

Photo of mattcrill
4.03/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Aroma: Dark roasted grains, just a hint of fruitiness, a little light here but nothing off and pretty inviting.

Appearance: Jet black, a tight tan head, dark throughout. No edging at all.

Flavor: Strong roasted notes, coffee, chocolate, cocoa powder, some hop bitterness at the end and possibly some black patent notes which shouldn't be there.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, highly carbonated, mildly astringent, and a drying alcohol finish.

Overall impression: A little light on the mouthfeel for an impy stout. A touch too bitter (possibly from the black patent). A higher mash temperature or bumping up the unfermentables in the grain bill would put this over the top. A solid offering and with a few tweaks could be world class. Recommended.

 754 characters

Photo of Bierguy5
3.55/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle. The label states 8.5 % ABV, lot 36. Pours a very solid black, no highlights, no light coming through. Thin tan head disappears very quickly. Roasty, espresso, and dark chocolate aroma along with a hint of dark fruit. Roasty flavor, with some cocoa, but not much fruit. FInishes somewhat dry. A bit thin, however the carbonation was appropriate. Not complex like others in the style. Not bad, but not much depth to this one.

 438 characters

Photo of tavernjef
3.98/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber - Pours brown, sits black. Slim, compactly fluffy capping of tanned foam sits atop briefly. Very minimal lacing in a few spots.

Aroma of mild milk chocolate with a slight graham cracker crusted roastyness/burntness.

Taste is alot like what the aroma leads to with a moderate amount of cookie/cake like milk chocolate. Slippery in the front, partially oily enriched with a richer/fuller backend. Tenderly sweetened by a bit with a centered oatyness and soft chocolate malting. Notes akin to some peppery spice, burntish coffee or cake edges. Quite mild overall on the flavor palate though. Keeps smooth and solid but nothing to complexing. Reminds more of an Oatmeal fashioned type stout then anything.

Feel is smooth and supple with a bit of oilyness to its body. Seemingly rounded within a medium body and a softer carbonation. Finishes lightly spiced and feathery hopped with a faint chocolate drify of soft dryness.

A moderately paced drinkin' stout. Not super complex nor impactful as most Impy Stouts. but does the job just fine for when in the mood for something on the darker side.

 1,112 characters

Photo of Vancer
4.07/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wow, poured a freakin’ motor oil black, nice tan head – disappointed that it didn’t lace better, just some thin rings.

Nice aromas of chocolate, raisons and nuts. Superb quaff too, really noticed the anise – along with coffee and sweet dark chocolates. I enjoyed all these flavors for the entire bomber.

Medium bodied that thinned just a smidgen too much by the end of the bomber. But all things considered, this was a darn fine mid-west cut at an RIS.

 462 characters

Photo of Zorro
4.12/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled through the efforts of 120/190 BIF and lostbearbrew.

Pours a dark brown beer with no real head formation.

Smell is fairly fruity mostly raisin, figs, and plums. Pepper and spice ride to my nose on the alcohol fumes mostly pepper and cinnamon. Good aromas of chocolate and Kahlua.

Taste is sweet and quite roasted, smoky and bitter at the start. Very quickly the taste smoothes out and chocolate and smoke become the dominant flavors. Can't really say that this has a coffee flavor to it. Faint fruit flavors mostly figs. Good bitter snap lasts all the way through the glass.

Mouthfeel is good.

A tasty RIS that is worth trying. A good flaw free RIS that isn't one of the best but a very good choice for those that like them smoky and on the bitter end of the spectrum.

 781 characters

Photo of ybnorml
4.02/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A very dark black beer, cannot see any light thru it. Has a small creamy light brown head. The aroma starts with a solid cereal malt note. Followed quickly by a wonderful coffee/chocolate character. Your mouth is greeted by a robust roasted grain flavor that moves smoothly into chocolate/coffee character. With the chocolate hitting first and leaving the finish for the tastebud tingleing bitter coffee note.

 409 characters

Photo of scruffwhor
4.29/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bomber. Poured into my Carlsberg impy pint glass.

Appearance- Pours a 90% solid black with the other 10% being a UPS brown. Head was a nice beige color with retention nicely mainatined at the filmy foam level.

Smell- I've had some very good RIS's, and a lot had very strong, easily defined aromas. This one had creamy hazelnuts with splashes of cascade hops miced with bakers chocolate. But keepin mind all these smells were muted. Or they weren't almost overpowering. Really let your nose dive into the smell than be overwhelmed.

Taste- Strat out with slightly hoppy, creamy hazelnuts. Actually, a good taste comparison with this beer is chocoate, hazelnut coffee. But once again, the flavors weren't cloying.

Mouthfeel- Rich, but not too rich for an RIS. Not too mention nutty and creamy.

 825 characters

Photo of edchicma
4.35/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one hit me just right. At 7.5 abv it is on the lowere end of some Imp stouts I've sampled, but the quality is excellent. It pours mahogany to balck with a small head. The smell is a combination of smoky, malty witha faint hop presence. The taste shines....smoke, malt sweetness, coffee, sugar candy and hops..excellent. The mouthfeel was smooth, and almost creamy. This made for an extermely drinkable brew. Highly recommended.

 432 characters

Photo of nflmvp
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured almost pitch black. There's no light getting through this one. A two inch head faded to a 1/4 inch within about a minute. Smell is chocolate and oatmeal. Taste is smokey and chocolatey sweet. Mouthfeel is fairly smooth and has a very slight bite on the finish. Overall, drinkability is good. I like this one enough that I'd definitely buy it again.

 355 characters

Photo of Sycodrummer
4.17/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the black bomber into a snifter the beer was a very dark black color with slight ruby hues in the light. A thin layer of head skimmed the top of the beer and carbonation clung to the sides of the glass. Some spotty lacing throughout the sample.

The smell is a heavy roasted malt, black coffee, dark chocolate, and dark fruit: plum and fig.

The taste is heavy in orasted character with a robust malty backbone. Roasted flavor is dominant throughout each sip and is complimented by strong (Starbuck's-ish) black coffee. Some dark chocolate and chicory bitterness to the finish. Figs and plums in the end of each sip and the alcohol is near undetectable.

Medium firm body with about average carbonation levels.

A good all around RIS. Nice roasted character dominates the beer. Would have liked to have seen a little bit more presence from the alcohol, but it was well balanced and very drinkable.

 917 characters

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.

 942 characters

Photo of sulldaddy
4.46/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I am sampling a bottle bought on a recent trip to Boston. Pouring at room temp into a snifter. The beer pours a thick viscous pitch black. A soft fluffy tan head of 1 cm foams up easily. the head does fade gradually to an almost non-existent edge layer.
Aroma is deep and malty with molasses, brown sugar, some dark fruit, plums and maybe fig with some roast malt and chocolate too. A little bit of everything and it mixed well.
First sip reveals an average body with mild rolling carbonation. There is a bit of a slick mouthfeel and is generally lighter than I expected.
Flavor is similar to advertised by nose, starts with some sweet malt qualities, chocolate and brown sugar with molassess again. Then it rolls to some roasted malt and a hint of bitter espresso as well. Maybe the bitterness is actually from hops as it develops to more of an herbal/resiny bite than coffee after more sips. This is a sipper as it is large and robust, but no hint of alcohol so be careful. The drinkability is high and I would recommend this brew to others. A nice stab at an Imperial Stout. Look for it!

 1,094 characters

Photo of jdhilt
3.53/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a two-finger light brown head that fades quickly leaving no lace. Totally black color. Light carbonation and heavy bodied. Roasted coffee nose. Starts with a malty roasted coffee flavor, hint of hops in the finish, the higher ABV is not noticeable. $4.70 for a 22 oz bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma.

 312 characters

Photo of nlmartin
3.45/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer was poured into a pub glass.

Appearance: The beer pours a dark black almost purple/blue. No opaqueness to light. The head was tan and one finger high. There was absolutely no head retention at all. Thin whisp of lacing remain on the glass.

Smell: The beer was a pool of dark roasted coffee, with bits of dark chocolate and anise floating on smokey vapours.

Taste: There is a bit of smoky woody earthyness dark roasted coffee and dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel: This beer is light to medium bodied. There is a nice balance between malty and hoppy. I would have liked a bit heavier beer. Overall not a bad drinking beer. I dont want any more of this. There are better beers to be had at this price.

 713 characters

Northwind Imperial Stout from Two Brothers Brewing Company
3.77 out of 5 based on 932 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!