Beer Type: Imperial Stout ABV: 11.5% Tried on draught.
Their Description: “The Roman Empire had a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ – festive food culture, extravagant architecture and spectacular live entertainment. Some might argue the Emperors were brutal, mad and hungry for power, and the people vain when taking baths and working out all day. Listen – that’s still all part of the secret Imperial ingredient – keep it cool, clean, confident, arrogant and flamboyant. Forza Imperiale.”
The Reality: This beer starts with a strong scent of dark chocolate and dark fruit. The fruit isn’t present in the taste, but there is plenty of dark cocoa and roasted bitter coffee, all with an rich coating of nuttiness. It is super smooth, like a top quality espresso and shows no signs of its 11.5 ABV. It manages to balance bitter and sweet so that neither is too aggressive or too prominent. The aftertaste is a blend of bittersweet notes with a creamy mouth-feel. Their description is fairly abstract, but I think the adjectives at the end are supposed to apply to this beer. I’d say it is “clean” and it should be “confident”, but I’m not sure about the rest.
Final Verdict: I’m sure it’s not uncommon in Italy for people to take a break from their workday to enjoy a biscotti and an espresso. That sounds OK, but I’d much rather start the tradition of taking a break from my workday and having a glass of this beer (not sure how my bosses would feel about it). It’s the perfect thing to perk you up and mellow you out at the same time. I can’t stress enough how smooth, creamy and just plain tasty this beer is. When you’re using flavors like chocolate, coffee and almond it can be very easy to have a beer that is too cloying or tastes artificial, but that is not at all the case with this beer. It is a really well-done example of this genre, much like John Carpenter’s They Live is a well-done example of the Cult Classic, B-Horror-Sci-Fi, I-Remember-It-Being-Better Movie Genre. R.I.P. Roddy Piper.