Northwind Imperial Stout | Two Brothers Brewing Company

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85
very good
417 Reviews
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Northwind Imperial StoutNorthwind Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Two Brothers Brewing Company
Illinois, United States
twobrothersbrewing.com

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:
417
Ratings:
956
Avg:
3.78
pDev:
11.9%
 
 
Wants:
31
Gots:
90
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
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Reviews: 417 | Ratings: 956
Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.48/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a short beige head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains dark fruit, roasted malts, chocolate, some coffee and a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with sweet flavors of dark fruit and chocolate. Then a roasted malt character that is a bit on the thin side for the style comes in. The hops presence is mild but complementary and creates some balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and a little crisp but a bit watery, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, good kick, decent representation of style, there are several other stouts I would choose before this one.

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Photo of AmitC
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle from Lot 3182.

Almost black, very dark brown while pouring. Pitch black inside the glass. About one finger thick tan-shining brown colored head, that does not stand well enough. Decent lacing on the sides.

Not one of the strongest aromas here. Some burnt up malts, some very minor hops, a well hidden alcohol. At least, does not give anything up. Some roasted malts, again very mild for an imperial stout. Chocolate and caramel, just a sprinkling.

Taste: Again alcohol is not felt. To me that is a bad thing for a RIS. To some it is good, but alcohol should come out and lead. Somewhat sweet due to malt presence. Very low to almost non-existent on bitter hops. As with stouts, roasted malts, caramel and some chocolate. But nothing worth remembering. Nothing that strikes out. Very mild taste. Dry finish.

Mouth feel: Full bodied, yet not very thick. Easy on palate, no astringency. A well drinking beer for over 9% RIS.

Style Rate: 4
Personal Rate: 4

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Photo of fallopia
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a refrigerated bottle into a snifter

Appearance: Deep brown, nearly black color with a fine, beading light-mocha head.

Aroma: Toasted, meaty malts with powdered cocoa hints.

Flavor: Smoky, cocoa and mild coffee notes with a slight burnt aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Well-balanced, medium-to-full bodied malts with a slightly harsh, carbonated finish.

Overall, this was a well-balanced, slightly lighter than expected stout that I would rate in the upper half of its class.

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Photo of pmcadamis
3.78/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - The brown head on this deep-brown brew is super-dense and thick. The head looks like raw chocolate chip cookie dough, and thick lace sticks all over the glass. Head retention is great for a beer of this ABV. Rootbeer highlights around the edges show that this one is a notch down the scale from pure black.

S - Double chocolate chip cookies. This smells extremely sweet and gooey with a hint of chicory underneath. Some toasted bran notes add a bit of complexity.

T - Super sweet melted milk chocolate. This one is a bit one dimensional, but some of those chicory notes from the nose come through to keep this from getting too cloying. As it warms, more hops come out at the finish.

M - Dextrin-y and heavy, this cleans up at the finish to end on a pleasingly dry note with bitter chicory root and hay-like hints of hops.

This one lacks the complexity of some high ABV stouts, but it's still really tasty, and could be somewhat drinkable since the really dry finish leaves you wanting another sip of initial sweetness. It's a vicious cycle. Could be dangerous!

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Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Glad to be having an imperial stout on a cold, dull day in December. Cheers.

A: Coffee brown body that pours pretty thick, though not thick enough to stop all light from coming through. Head starts as a finger-high, silky brown beauty that slowly settles to just a sprinkling of retention, with small circles of lacing dotting the inner edges of the glass.

S: A roasty, chocolate-forward aroma that leaves nothing but pleasant thoughts in my mind as it rushes up with waves of sweet vanilla, chocolate-covered hazelnut, oak, and roasty coffee with Irish cream. Alcohol doesn’t seem to be a factor at all – it’s just Hershey’s and marshmallow for this one. Toasted biscuit and dark, spicy hops settle amongst the primary scents for balance and complexity.

T: A very deep drink from start to finish: it smoothes over the tongue, warming all the way, and pulls you down with it into the depths of dark flavor. From a small sip it opens with dark, bitter chocolate, almost drying in the way it works over the palate, but that’s soon followed by a procession of date, walnut, and mild anise. The flavors are viscous and bold, but not rich, keeping this truly drinkable for the long run. Smoke and peppery, piney hops tease a little more bite out of the palate, and a touch of boozy cherry liqueur isn’t far behind as this one finishes off. Aftertaste is a fairly dry, with that bitter chocolate hanging on for minutes at a time.

M: Hits the spot without going overboard in slickness. It’s not super creamy like a milk stout, not porter-thin, and its weight doesn’t force you to sip it daintily like many others I’ve had in this style: it’s just right for the tastes this beer seemingly wants to showcase.

O: I doubt this beer won’t blow anybody away, but it definitely could be an archetype for the style. The texture, the nose, the balance…everything here is exactly what an RIS is all about. That said, I doubt I’d pick it up again.

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Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into snifter, lot 51, no bottle dating. Pours pitch black color with a 1 finger dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Slight spotty lacing clings to the glass, with slight alcohol legs. Aromas of big milk chocolate, roasted malt, smoke, cream, toffee, caramel, and light herbal. Very nice and unique aromas with good strength and balance. Taste of milk chocolate, smoke, roasted malt, toffee, cream, coffee, caramel, toast, and earth. No bitterness after the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, roasted malt, cream, toffee, and earth on the finish for a bit. Very nice flavor balance and robustness; minimal cloying sweetness after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and body; with a nice creamy and slick mouthfeel; a touch thin for 9% though. Alcohol is extremely well hidden with zero warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a very nice imperial stout. Nice balance of robust and unique stout flavors; and extremely smooth to sip on. Very enjoyable stuff.

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Photo of falloutsnow
3.72/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From: World Market, Hoffman Estates, IL
Date: "Lot 1347" stamped on label (from December 2011)
Glass: Tulip

While not my favorite go-to RIS, Two Brothers' take on the variety is interesting in its use of smoked malt in the aroma and taste, which complements the roasted malt's chocolate and char quite well. If the aroma and flavor were a notch more aggressive in this beer, it would be a strong contender for readily available seasonal beverage of choice.

Pours a 1.5cm head of dark tan foam, small bubbles and dense in compaction, frothy looking in overall appearance. Retention is about average, lasting a minute or two as it fades, leaving nothing atop the body of the beer, ring of bubbles or otherwise. Lacing is minimal, too. Body is dark brown to black, opaque, with carbonation noticeable only at the top of the body.

Aroma is influenced strongly by smoked malt, slight burnt dust, roasted/blackened malt, and very dark chocolate. Scents could be stronger, for more enjoyment, but are acceptable as is.

Open with deeply sweet, smoky malt flavors on the forefront of the palate that blend well into darker, tangier, more bitter flavors in mid-palate. Slightly tangy in vinegar-barbecue sauce sense by mid-palate. Closing out with an interesting blend of dark roasted flavors with balanced sweet, smoked malt flavors, hints of vanilla and very dark chocolate.

Beer is medium to medium-heavy in body, with medium-low levels of carbonation. The result is a smooth, flowing stout that goes easily across the palate. Ethanol is felt just slightly on the throat, nothing in the nostils, quite nice for a 9.1% beer. Finish is dry with little residual stickiness on palate.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.49/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.
45 IBUs, 9.1% ABV, Lot 3071 printed on back of label.

A - Northwind pours like syrup, black as night, and is topped by a rocky, effervescent cocoa head. Low retention, undoubtedly from the stout's high alcohol level, leaves no lace left on the glass.

S - Rich and robust, the thick aroma abounds with roasted malt giving off chocolate, cocoa, and dark coffee notes. Earthiness suggests wood as phenolic, dark fruit aromatics join the party, alcohol-soaked raisins and plum to name a few.

T - Opening with rich dark roasted malts and a sweet chocolate milkiness that are accented with light vanilla hints, Northwind features a prominent bold-roast coffee bitterness and flavor to the finish. Complexity grows as the beer warms, releasing more of the fruity esters and alcohol phenols found in the aroma.

M - It's very full body is evident from the syrupy pour through the aroma and flavor to the chewy mouthfeel. Northwind is as smooth as velvet and thick! Balancing with moderate dryness, the beer finishes acridly bitter.

O - Just the thing to sip on a cooler day, Two Brothers' Northwind Russian imperial stout is a thick, black beauty, rich with roasted malt characteristics of chocolate and coffee. A beautiful blend, especially paired with some chunks of dark chocolate.

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Photo of kylehay2004
3.65/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: half finger dark tan head with little retention and lacing on a dark brown with light passing through body. some clumps are noted floating around.

S: roasted malt, dark chocolate and brown sugar but overall light aroma.

T: lots of confectioners chocolate, vanilla and brown sugar. The roasted malts are mild and mostly contribute a slightly bitter finish with coffee notes as well.

M: medium body, creamy with moderate carbonation.

Overall: Not too bad. Flavor is mildly complex, the aroma is good but a little weak. Overall very drinkable however with well hidden alcohol content.

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

A - Pours with one finger of medium tan foam on top of an opaque, black body with some sediment floating in it. The head settles fairly quickly and leaves light lace.

S - Very roasty with a strong coffee aroma as well as some peaty smoke.

T - Dark, roasted malt up front with notes of burnt caramel, chocolate, and espresso. More coffee and baker's chocolate in the middle and smoky notes in the finish that provide lots of roasted grain bitterness.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a dry finish.

D - This stout is robust and roasted to the point that it really tastes like a coffee stout. It quite a contrast compared to many other imperial stouts that finish much sweeter than this one. This relative dryness allows it to be fairly drinkable even though it does nothing to lighten the overall experience or hide the alcohol.

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Photo of Brenden
3.92/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2B tap takeover at Swig 7/11/12. The wife's beer; #2.5?

This beer is big and black with a brown head about one finger tall that shows good retention. Lacing is a bit understated on the glass. It's not a big, thick, heavy stout, by any means, and one can see the direction they wanted to take with this beer by looking at it. It's more even and balanced than a big, destructive monster.
Northwind has a strong malts foundation with roasty notes. The chocolate is more bittersweet baking chocolate than sweet, but a sweetness certainly does come through, vanilla and dark fruits, making it sweeter than is typical without being cloying. I can see some in the beer community with the new trend of face-melting beers not liking that this beer is lighter than some, but the focus really is on the overall flavor, balance and attenuation. It succeeds. There's a complexity to this beer with the malts, the sweetness, cocoa, coffee grounds, and even caramel/toffee. There's a nice earthiness as well and just enough light hops to keep it malt-forward but balanced.
The body isn't as big as one might expect and, I'll admit, perhaps not as big as it should be. It does have a richness to it, though, a nice flow, smoothness, and a nip of crispness to keep it moving.

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Photo of vfgccp
3.07/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Beautiful bowling ball black with a creamy tan head builds out of no where and hangs around with fantastic retention and ok lace.

S - Nice crisp roast with deep cocoa and coffee highlights. Slight sour/musty edges.

T - Relatively light. Hammy smoke, char, and dark roast coffee.

M - Thin body for the style. Hides the 9% well though.

O - I'm ambivalent about the smoke, but overall it's the light body that really hurts the profile.

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Photo of dlello2
2.7/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A - Cloudy black. Lots of brown head with big bubbles.

S - Chocolate is first. Definitely roasty. Surprised to not really get any hops here. Some wood and smoke.

T - Follows the nose quite closely. Less chocolate and more burnt toast. Roasty qualities fail to wow. Actually find it lacking in flavor which is interesting considering the 9% abv. Not the best.

M - Thinner body than I'd have liked. Lacking in carbonation and slick.

O - Not impressed by this one. Following it with a hop juice black... hopefully that will treat me right!

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Photo of dhannes
4.26/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a standard pint glass.

A=Very dark brown...poured a large (3 finger) golden head that lasted over a minute.

S=Almost non-existant. Faint smell of semi-sweet chocolate and cocoa powder.

T=Coffee with tangy aftertaste; hints of irish whiskey flavoring, as well as slight chocolate flavors; slightly sweet as well.

M=Very drinkable...perhaps a bit less body for the style; almost no carbonation left; cannot taste the alcohol.

O=My bottle had been in the cellar for 3+ months, and probably was on the shelf for a month or two before that. Very nice beer that is good by itself or may go well with red meat or barbecued chicken, perhaps. Would buy again.

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Photo of brewandbbq
3.22/5  rDev -14.8%
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 BFro
3.24/5  rDev -14.3%
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.

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Photo of scottwestphall
3.67/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark black stout with 0 transparency. Poured with little head and left no lacing.   Sort of disappointing. The aroma was really nice with a whiff of black licorice. The flavor was good as expected by this genre of beer. Bits of coffee, carmel, and roasted malts as a stout like this should have. The body was thick and kinda heavy. At 9.1% alcohol it's not something you can just throw back while watching the Superbowl.  Overall it's pretty good and I would drink it again, though for my money I'd opt for Ole Rasputin which is still the standard.   Decent effort, but not the top dog. 

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Photo of BigPlay1824
4.17/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed in a snifter

A: pours a very deep brown that is impenetrable and has a ton of suspended sediment, pours with a finger of frothy mocha brown colored head that lingers nicely and has large bubbles, leaves spotty lacing
S: very nice mocha scent, very reminiscent of a strong coffee, very deep and enjoyable
T: begins with a nice coffee note which just intensifies and deepens throughout the sip, really deep and tastey, not entirely complex but yummy nonetheless
M: medium carbonation tingle, very thick on the palate and has a wonderful velvety texture which sticks to the palate
O: a delicious brew, lacking a bit in complexity but incredibly deep, really delicious

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Photo of JohnnyMc
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is my first beer from this brewery. It pours a very nice pitch black with a slight head.

The aroma is very subtle and has hints of chocolate, malt and smokiness. Taste wise is pretty much the same, there is a lot of malt and chocolate to taste and it's surprisingly mild for an Imperial Stout.

Despite the high ABV (9), there is no hint of alcohol in the taste or smell.

This is a decent beer, but not one of my favorites and certainly nowhere near the best Imperial Stout I have tried.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.91/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours midnight black with a two finger tall foamy tan head. Lots of visible sediment that is also tan in color. Head reduces slightly but very good head retention overall. Significant lacing is observed.

S: Not as intense a smell present as I would have liked for this style. Hints of chocolate, oak, roasted dark malts, coffee, and vanilla.

T: Primarily dark bittersweet chocolate with hints of dark druit (plum + fig), oak, and some coffee bitterness. Not overly bitter and there is an underlying sweetness from the dark roasted malts.

M: Medium bodied with a low to moderate amount of carbonation. Smooth.

O: Alcohol is very well hidden in this beer - both in the taste and the smell. Very enjoyable and a very well balanced beer. Some complexity in the flavors. Good beer for a cold winter day.

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Photo of zeledonia
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 20 December 2011.

Pours very dark brown, black at the center, with a little light coming through the edges. One finger of brownish tan head, fades fairly quickly and leaves little lacing. A whole lot of light brown sediment that I wasn't expecting - should have poured a little more gently.

Smell is slightly smoky. In fact, smoke is the one thing that jumps out at me, though it comes on the back end of some deep roasted chocolatey malts. Woody and high in the nose, without much of the deep rich robustness I might expect.

Taste comes through with, again, that hit of smoke. But here there's more going on. Some nice dark chocolate, a hint of dark fruit, and another chunk of wood to chew on. Bitterness is quite low. A lot of different flavors swimming around, lending some nice subtle variation to it.

Mouthfeel is solid. Fairly heavy body, about right in the middle of the pack for an impy stout. Good medium-low carbonation, and a lingering slick on the tongue.

An interesting, rather smoky imperial stout. Different, but pretty tasty. I like the variety in the flavor.

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Photo of Greywulfken
3/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: nearly opaque, but some dark brown translucence around the edges; dark tan head

S: mild roasted malt

T: more toward the bitter/dry end of the imperial stout spectrum; burnt notes, faint cocoa/chocolate notes

M: lighter than other imperial stouts, more carbonation, very slight astringency

O: as always, if you like stouts/imperial stouts it is worth a try. For me, the gold standard in stouts is Old Rasputin. This beer is not as smooth or mellow, and it is not as sweet either. A decent beer, but not something that I would purchase again unless I craved a stout and had no other choices available.

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Photo of hosehead83
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured from a 12oz. bottle into a wine goblet.
Inky black in color with a decent head of tan foam.
Aroma-Faint chocolate and dark toasted malt
Taste-Dark roasted coffee and cream,faint dark fruit, dark chocolate. Subtle hop note in the slightly warming finish. Friendly and pleasant, a nice imperial stout to cut your teeth on, or just a mellow-drinking sipper for a cold night.

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Photo of JackieTH
3.81/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured aggressively, rewarded with an inch of tan foam over a black-oily looking brew. The foam dissipated quickly leaving a thin skein. Smell was light. Roast malt, chocolates just not much of it. Taste was a definite improvement over the nose. Nicely roasty, bittersweet chocolate, raisins, vanilla, a nice bit of hops, too. Good balance, creamy mouthfeel with a stiff carbonation keeping it interesting. Some sourness appears during the finish. Good flavor, easy to drink, enjoyable if not spectacular.

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Photo of hopfacebrew
3.99/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Note: This review was a re-post from my former account, jmkratt, which was hacked and I lost all my reviews...sorry for the redundancy.

My man Rob hooked this up as an extra in our trade! Thanks again!!

A - Poured from 12oz bottle to a pint glass. The beer pours gjet black with a huge 3 finger head that overflowed the pint glass. The quite bubbly tan head slowly fades to a thin film throughout the glass with huge bubbly lacing.

S - Not a lot of aroma for a Russian Imperial. Slight hints of roasted malt, alcohol tones, and not much more.

T/M - The beer starts thin but gradually fills your pallete with a plethora of flavors: numerous specialty grains, nice roasted malts, slight acohol warmth, mild bittnerness. I was suprised at the creamy mouthfeel which lasts from the beginning to end though it finishes a tad dry. I'd say the beer is more of a medium-full than full bodied beer with reasonable carbonation.

D - A very drinkable beer.

Overall, I really enjoyed this beer. It was a pleasure to sample another Two Brothers brew. If I had the opportunity I'd drink it again and recommend to friends.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 01-28-2011 03:02:37

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Northwind Imperial Stout from Two Brothers Brewing Company
3.78 out of 5 based on 956 ratings.
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