Now we are not a novice when it comes to the great beers from our brethren over the channel in Denmark. Those Scandinavian boys are putting out some of the craziest and interesting beers about and running the great ship To Øl as a nomadic wandering brew-house only adds to their mystique and breadth of style. We picked this bottle up as a treat to ourselves one night and once we got it home we found out it was not just a mere Imperial Stout running at 12.2% but it was in fact all this and more, a chilli Imperial stout nevertheless. Well, we’ve had chilli stouts and imperial strong-as-hell ink black stouts but never the two in one. We were growing even more excitable as we reached for the bottle-opener.
Upon opening the bottle a fantastic aroma came wafting out, hinting at chocolates and malts drifting over the air and enticing us to continue our quest into this ale. Pouring it into the glass was like coaxing oil from the very depths, thick and resinous it cascades out of the bottle as if summoned by daemons, glistening and lustrous yet slick and inviting. It fills the air around us in thick cocoa, deep with malt and earthy in nature. Subtle hoppy qualities come forth and entice you deeper into its grip, we are captivated…
For the flavour we are welcomed like a great old friend, rich and inviting the chocolate warmth enrobes your mouth in a coating of utter decadence; comforting us and allaying all fears of a dull beer. Like an old friend once it knows we are ready to continue the flavour palate gently transforms without warning into slight bitterness of dark cocoa, furthermore adding to the chocolate flavours but with their bitter qualities lifting the experience to a new level. Adding depth and balance the bitter cocoa once again morphs into a new flavour of acidic spice; beguiling in it transformation I can barely believe what I am tasting. Loki-esque in its subtle deceptions, the winding roads it takes you down and the subtle shape-shifting from one flavour to another is stunning; everything morphing into one fantastical meandering flavour landscape that you travel further and further down, enchanted by the sublimity and artistry of the experience.
The acidic spice changes within itself too, the use of three chillies in this beer mean the flavour palate of the very spice morphs from a warming heat from Guajillo chilli to a subtle sweet and more rounded Ancho finally like an earthy fog descending over us the smoked Chipotle enters the stage, lingering on the tongue with incredible dexterity. Never overplaying its role and knowing when to enter and exit the three chillies leave you breathless with pure brilliance of balance and poise within this beer, all at their perfect levels no more and no less. Once the slight warm twang of chilli has subsided we are whisked of into more subtle transformation of flavour; from the warming smoky earth-like chipotle we move almost seamlessly into the earthy bitter tones of the Sorachi Ace hop. Deep with subtle citrus and floral notes this rounds of the magical trip we have just been taken on, full of intrigue and poise this beer delivers on every point. The balance of the beer is remarkable, especially at 12.2% the ABV isn’t in your face and nor is it absent totally, roundness of flavours and the sheer brilliance of how they managed to morph so many flavours together in one never-ending journey of taste I will never know.
Simply stunning beer. To Øl are one of our favourite breweries of late, and finding this beer just cements it in place. Excellent ABV, incredible flavours with subtleties and definition every step. The smokiness only coming from the chilli and not the malt, another impressive feat.
If you find it, it will be expensive. But, oh my word is it ever worth every thick unctuous mesmerizing drop.