Cigar City Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout

Type: Imperial stout
Origin: Tampa, FL
ABV: 11.0%
Price: ?
NSP: ?

Know what I love about some imperial stouts?  They can be really ugly.  Dark and threatening, like an alley you don’t want to walk down at 3 AM.  And this may be the ugliest beer I’ve ever seen.  In fact, it looks like Valvoline’s entry into the beer market- straight up motor oil, syrupy as hell.  The legs on this thing are ridiculous, a swirl stays glued to the glass for longer than pretty much any beer I’ve ever had.  And it’s not the head providing the legs- it’s the actual beer.  You want to see a high-gravity beer?  Look no further.  This is above the Chandrasekhar limit.  Yeah, I just made a fucking astrophysics reference.

Smell-wise, this is more or less what I’d expect if I decided to dissolve some dark chocolate in a pot of molasses.  Rich and powerful, with boatloads of chocolate and espresso, plus some caramel- and vanilla-y sugariness.  The flavor hits all of those hallmarks as well, and it’s crafted well enough that you can pick out each individual aspect while also appreciating the weight of the sum.  Nice and chocolate/coffee bitter with a bit of sweetness.  Smoky, with a light touch of something almost peaty.  A layer of booze right on top that lets you know you’re in for some trouble.  Jebus this is good.

I’m trying to think of a stout that I’ve had that’s better than this.  I’m not coming up with one.  It’s got everything I could want in a stout.  I will provide a warning, though.  It’s kind of an obvious warning, I suppose, but as a guy who unblinkingly (and perhaps inadvisably) took down a 750 of Rye-on-Rye at a slightly higher ABV, I think it’s still worth saying for the sake of the other high-ABV-resistant beer fiends out there- do not take this on alone.  It’s too potent, too rich, too goddamn belligerent for one person to handle.  Which is a high compliment from this Non-Snobber.  Highest marks.  Dammit, Cigar City, start sending your stuff out here, will you?  

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