adventures in craft beer and real food

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tasting notes: Mr. Mephisto Imperial Stout

I have to confess something.  I have an enormous amount of respect, and some jealousy, for Tom Porter, the one-man brewing juggernaut behind Lake Louie beers.  From what I've heard, he's the man.  He's the man that brews the beer.  He's the man that bottles the beer.  He's the man that sweeps the floors, and keeps the books.  He's the man that delivers the beer.  I can't even imagine how much work that must be, though at least he doesn't have much of a commute (he lives on the same property on which he brews in Arena, Wisconsin).  In other words, he's living every homebrewers' dream.

And each of his beers are of superlative quality!

That said, I swear that I'll be as objective as possible in my tasting notes for Mr. Mephisto Imperial Stout.  I had a bottle left over from the previous release last year, but I saw it on the shelves at Steve's the other day and decided it would be a good time to post some tasting notes.

Mr. Mephisto pours completely black, but raises an unusually large tan head (3/4 inch).  As time passed, the head became smaller but stayed for the entire time I drank the beer.  And it left excellent, beautiful lacing in its wake.  The head was so robust that I wonder if some wheat is used to aid in head retention.  The beer is completely opaque even when held up to the brightest light I could find in my apartment.

The aroma offers a pleasant roastiness, with some smoke and fresh raspberry notes.  It smells sweet, but has a slightly sour edge to it.  Upon tasting it, the first thing that struck me is how amazingly smooth and creamy this beer is.  If you put a pint of this beer in front of me, I would think that it was served using a nitrogen tap.  Seriously, the viscosity reminds me of drinking a stout milk shake (which is one of my favorite treats).  Some fruity esters that offer peach and raspberry flavors stick out in the very front of the profile, but quickly give way as an intense roasty flavor continues to build after each sip.  Some apple-wood smoke flavors are in there as well.  After the roastiness fades, a bread-like flavor is left as the aftertaste.  There was no perceived ethanol flavor.

As the beer warms, I noticed that the esters become more harsh and more distracting.  It also became sweeter, almost cloying to my taste, which caused me to drink it really slowly.  Although Mr. Mephisto comes close to being one dimensional, in that every other flavor is subtle compared to the pervasive roastiness of this imperial stout, it shows enormous control and restraint.

Unlike some imperial stouts that I've had that were so bitter that they were practically undrinkable, so alcoholic that it didn't taste like a stout, or so roasty that there was no room for any other flavor at all, Mr. Mephisto is an imperial stout done the right way.


Kelly A. said...

I'm craving beer now. This is an informative review. We enjoyed every last sip!

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