Imperial Coffee Stout Side by Side Tasting

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by zac16125, Oct 14, 2012.

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  1. zac16125

    zac16125 Poo-Bah (1,787) Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    So I did a side by side tasting of 3 highly rated, non-barrel aged, Imperial Coffee Stouts that I had in my fridge. Now I dont think my opinion is particularly important, and probably no one cares about what I have to say, but hell its the internet, so I am going to share them anyways! Here are notes from my personal tasting....

    Imperial Coffee Stout Side by Side
    Terrapin Wake and Bake vs Peche Mortel vs Founders Breakfast Stout

    All bottles latest release:
    Terrapin 2011 vintage, 12oz bottle, poured into a mug
    Peche Mortel notched 4 and 8 (not sure what that means) ; 11.5oz bottle into a pint glass
    Founder Breakfast Stout; bottle on 8/2/12; 12oz bottle into a pint glass

    Looking back over my prior ratings, I rated them in the following order:
    1) FBS
    2) Peche Mortel
    3) WnB

    Peche Mortel I reviewed first, and in my review it says, "Imperial Stouts arent one of my favorite styles". Yikes. How times (and one's palate preferences) change.

    On to the tasting.....

    A: All look very similar. WnB appears the thickest during the pour. Once in the glass, FBS is only the slightest bit darker than the other two. It also has a slightly dark head, however, all could be described as black with light mocha colored head. FBS has the largest head, all dissipate down at fairly equal rates, but WnB has the worst retention as it recedes to only a thick outer ring, whereas the other two have a thick film that hangs around throughout the majority of the drink. WnB leaves no appreciable lacing. Peche and FBS both leave lots of lacing, Peche is thicker lace and FBS has more cobwebbing/ honeycomb type lacing.

    Appearance Preference: 1) FBS 2) Peche 3) WnB

    S: WnB- coffee, milk chocolate, mild roasted malt and a fairly big herbaceous character
    PM-black coffee, slightly astringent, medicinal, sweet and tart apples
    FBS-black coffee, roasted malt, bakers chocolate, mild earthy/herbaceous notes

    WnB smells the sweetest with creamed coffee and milk chocolate, Peche is the most unique with medicinal/astringent characters and some light fruit/red apple-like notes. FBS has my favorite aroma with a big black coffee and bitter bakers chocolate dominance.

    Aroma preference: 1) FBS 2) WnB 3) peche

    WnB: Initial sips are bitter black coffee and big oatmeal stout characteristics. Like the nose this one is the sweetest, with milk chocolate and heavy cream flavors coming through.

    Peche: Initial sips are simply a big, non specific bitterness. As it warms that coffee comes out, as strong bold roast black coffee.

    FBS: Initial sip is roasted malt with bitter black coffee on the finish. Later in the drink, the dark chocolate/bakers chocolate becomes more noticeable, and a milk or vanilla flavor starts to come out.

    Peche probably has the strongest coffee flavor, but it also has a pronounced bitterness, and the medicinal quality on the nose carries into the flavor. WnB again is the sweetest, and has that distinct oatmeal stout flavor. FBS has that great drinkable mix of black coffee and dark chocolate, however, to my surprise I think I prefer the flavors of WnB.

    Taste Preference: 1) WnB 2) FBS 3) Peche

    WnB: feels thinner than the other two, but has an appropriately low carbonation, and is pretty smooth.
    Peche: Heaviest carbonation, medium in terms of thickness, not very smooth at all. Hands down the worst mouthfeel of the 3.
    FBS: Smoothest, thickest, best level of carbonation. Definitely the best mouthfeel of the bunch.

    Mouthfeel Preference: 1) FBS 2) WnB 3) Peche

    O: Overall, somewhat surprising results for me. My pre tasting guess was that WnB was going to significantly lag behind and the other two would be neck and neck, however, it turns out when comparing side my side, from top to bottom Peche Mortel was my least favorite of the 3. Breakfast stout was the best in terms of appearance, aroma, and mouthfeel; however, WnB was the best tasting, which to me is the most important category. However, all things considered, I'd have to go with Founders Breakfast Stout as the overall winner of this side by side comparison, slightly edging out Wake and Bake. Props to WnB for giving it a run for its money though!

    Overall Preference: 1) FBS 2) WnB 3) Peche Mortel
    drtth, BobZ, cavedave and 2 others like this.
  2. RBassSFHOPit2ME

    RBassSFHOPit2ME Meyvn (1,126) Mar 1, 2009 California

    No Speedway?

  3. Naterobsnyk4

    Naterobsnyk4 Initiate (175) Jan 25, 2012 New York

    speedway is probably my favorite non ba stout, you should try and get your hands on the Vietnamese they have on tap at the brewery generally.
  4. zac16125

    zac16125 Poo-Bah (1,787) Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    I love Speedway, but the regular speedway isnt brewed with Coffee is it? I rememner it having some coffee flavors, but itsnot a coffee stout, or am I wrong?

    And this wsant a side by sideof my favorite stouts, just 3 similar ones. In fact, I think my favorite Non-BA coffee stout is Imperial Biscotti, but I didnt think I could handle another 22oz of IS in one sitting!
  5. zac16125

    zac16125 Poo-Bah (1,787) Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    I would love to try Vietnamese Speedway. Looking to fill up a growler for me and set up a trade, Id be down for that! haha
  6. Beerisheaven

    Beerisheaven Devotee (463) Dec 5, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Good post and plenty of people enjoy reading these. I think you have it pretty wel stated too.
    cavedave likes this.
  7. Reagan1984

    Reagan1984 Poo-Bah (2,161) May 15, 2008 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    God I love BA..... The OP says he compares three specific beers he has in his fridge... The thread is immediately hijacked to say that "Speedway" is better. I suppose this would be appropriate had the OP stated specifically that he also had a Speedway in his fridge and chose not to place it in the group because it wasn't worthy. Of course, that didn't happen.

    I like the post and the comparison. I think I'd probably agree with you on the final rankings, with the caveat that all are very good beers. I do think that WnB is a very sneaky fantastic beer and I agree on the taste rankings...

    Thanks for sharing. I hope you've learned not to post about coffee stouts without bowing your head to Speedway..
    (which I clearly prefer less than both KBS and WnB) :grimacing: Oh crap... now I've done it. :sunglasses:
    Onenote81, albertq17, drtth and 2 others like this.
  8. Naterobsnyk4

    Naterobsnyk4 Initiate (175) Jan 25, 2012 New York

    Haha I wish, I no longer live in San Diego.
  9. RBassSFHOPit2ME

    RBassSFHOPit2ME Meyvn (1,126) Mar 1, 2009 California

    Why yes sir it is...:-)
  10. zac16125

    zac16125 Poo-Bah (1,787) Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Well excuse my ignorance then. I actually have only had it once, and it was probably about a year ago. I'll have to get a hold of it again, which was already on my to do list.
  11. itsthepleats

    itsthepleats Initiate (0) Mar 19, 2012 Ohio

    Interesting. I did a similar tasting with 3 friends.....same brews with a beer geek breakfast in the mix. 4 of 4 picked peche mortal as the overall winner. FBS and WnB were mixed 2nd and 3rd. Mikkeller bringing up the rear. This was all done blind and I was quite surprised by the results. The depth of flavor (maybe more dark fruits and less roast) made the peche really stand out I thought.
    CORKSCREWFISH likes this.
  12. deadonhisfeet

    deadonhisfeet Poo-Bah (1,520) Apr 23, 2011 Kentucky

    I have to agree with all the sentiments posted here regarding Speedway Stout. It would have been great if it could have been included. What wins out? The strong, bitter, coffee/chocolate flavors of FBS or the sweet, creamy flavors of Speedway Stout?

    The world may never know.
  13. zac16125

    zac16125 Poo-Bah (1,787) Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    I would guess the sweet creamy flavors of Speedway. From my previous ratings I had Speedway rated higher than all 3 (then again as above when beers are drank side by side things can change.)
  14. zac16125

    zac16125 Poo-Bah (1,787) Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    I generally tend to really enjoy the dark fruit flavors of IS's, however, I wasn't getting much of that from the Peche I drank last night. Batch variation maybe?
  15. deadonhisfeet

    deadonhisfeet Poo-Bah (1,520) Apr 23, 2011 Kentucky

    I've never done a side-by-side. and I haven't had the other two, but I have also rated Speedway a tad higher than FBS (though I love them both). Speedway is just so perfectly balanced between sweet and roasty. Compared to Speedway, FBS is incredibly bitter to me (especially when it's fresh).

    When I had FBS fresh this year, I was amazed that I had forgotten just how bitter it can be, yet it's still so damn drinkable. It's almost as if Founders manages with chocolate and coffee what a great IIPA-maker does with hop selection and yeast.
  16. Thickfreakness

    Thickfreakness Initiate (0) Oct 2, 2010 New York

    Speedway is fantastic!!! ST Jah-va is brilliant as well!
  17. zac16125

    zac16125 Poo-Bah (1,787) Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    I agree that FBS is pretty bitter. I don't think KBS is bitter at all though , interestingly. CBS certainly wasn't bitter, and I don't remember Founders IS being bitter. I'm going to side by side FBS, KBS, and Founders IS next, guess ill find out then.
    deadonhisfeet likes this.
  18. EgadBananas

    EgadBananas Initiate (0) Mar 18, 2009 Louisiana

    I think FBS had an unfair advantage. FBS was just released, that WnB is probably 8+ months old, and since DDC uses a batch code, not a date code, there's no telling how fresh it is. Like IPA's, freshness matter with coffee beers. I've had all with age on them and they're still great coffee stouts, but to compare them against each other at varying ages, makes it hard to get a real accurate comparison. Too bad they don't come out all at the same time cause a three-way with fresh bottles of those would be blissful :slight_smile:
    phingdong likes this.
  19. BobZ

    BobZ Zealot (508) Jun 24, 2009 Massachusetts

    Great tasting with great notes, need more of these posts on here!:slight_smile:

    I think this may necessitate planning a Speedway VS. Fresh FBS VS. FBS 2011 tasting for next weekend, a combination of a mini-vertical and a mini-horizontal! :grimacing:
  20. zac16125

    zac16125 Poo-Bah (1,787) Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    True that coffee stouts (and really all beers) change over time,but I wouldn't say its necessarily an advantage. Sometimes I like coffee stouts more after some of the coffee flavors settle down a bit. It allows other flavors to come out. Although I agree it would be ideal to have them all being brewed at the same time, I wouldn't say its a definite advantage to be straight out of the brewery.
  21. BobZ

    BobZ Zealot (508) Jun 24, 2009 Massachusetts

    Maybe, I picked up six from Julio's here in MA very recently (a store where stock moves at a decent rate so I would think it's on the "fresher" side) and this batch is very dark fruit forward in a very good way!
  22. Handle

    Handle Initiate (145) Mar 16, 2009 North Carolina

    Coffee stouts are among my favorite beers, and you definitely picked three good ones. I think my own personal preference would be Wake-n-Bake, Peche Mortel and Breakfast Stout.
  23. itsthepleats

    itsthepleats Initiate (0) Mar 19, 2012 Ohio

    Age may have played a role in our tasting.....with peche mortel the clear fav. I think it had a year or so on it. As others have mentioned I also find FBS a little too acidic/bitter coffee forward when fresh. I prefer it with a little age. Same goes for KBS...1 year bottled > fresh draft.
  24. nesarebad

    nesarebad Devotee (474) Feb 4, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I have no idea why anyone is talking about Speedway on this thread. Anyway, I think you should have done this when you could have all beers fresh. Obviously the coffee is a big component of the flavor profile for all of these and the flavor changes over time.
  25. axeman9182

    axeman9182 Initiate (0) Aug 5, 2009 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Side by sides like this are always interesting, I wish I did them more often. I did one with just FBS and WnB last winter, and while it wasn't blind, I found myself preferring the Wake n Bake. To me it had a bit more of a chocolate presence alongside the coffee, while the FBS was more of a straight coffee bomb.
  26. ThickNStout

    ThickNStout Poo-Bah (2,148) Mar 8, 2011 Georgia
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    That's awesome that my personal favorite, WnB, held up so well compared to it's "competition" being so much fresher. I've found that for my tastes it ages the best and it's the only imperial coffee stout that I always have in my fridge (never know when I'll want a taste of that sweet, smooth coffee goodness!).
  27. HopsintheSack

    HopsintheSack Devotee (447) Apr 17, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    While regular Speedway does have coffee, the Vietnamese is way more coffee forward and frigin awesome!
  28. FosterJM

    FosterJM Poo-Bah (2,719) Nov 16, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    Thanks for the invite. Way to keep in the Classy family!

  29. Kadonny

    Kadonny Meyvn (1,241) Sep 5, 2007 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Forget Speedway, you chose the best 3 coffee stouts in my book, I love all three.

    Great results, great read, thanks. I've always said that FBS is the best Impy Coffee Stout out there especially when you factor in price and availability. I love PM, but the price is a bit prohibitive. WnB is just solid too, but much harder for us to find here in PA.
  30. Stinger80OH

    Stinger80OH Crusader (740) Nov 11, 2011 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    I gotta throw this out here....WNB is, to this, point my favorite non-BA coffee stout ive ever had. Well-balanced, not overwhelming, good mouth feel....awesome stout.


  31. Danny1217

    Danny1217 Champion (852) Jul 15, 2011 Florida
    Beer Trader

    So you thought Wake N Bake tasted the best, but gave FBS the edge because of the other stuff? As far as I'm concerned, Wake N Bake is the underdog winner here, since it tasted the best.
    I've yet to try Wake N Bake, but I plan on having a lot when it releases next month.
  32. zac16125

    zac16125 Poo-Bah (1,787) Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Thats correct. The other things, especially aroma and mouthfeel, are also important in the overall beer experience, so as I whole I gave it to FBS.

    On a side note, I had another Imperial Biscotti Break last night (the other beer I thought about including but didn't for the sake of avoiding a hangover), and although it wasnt side by side, the others were fresh in my mind and I'd say IBB blew the rest out of the water. Such depth of flavors, and such a creamy smooth mouthfeel. Maybe Ill do an IBB vs the winner of this one (KBS) for a better comparison.
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