- Style: Russian Imperial Stout (RIS)
- ABV: 13.0%
- Ease to locate: Small, new brewery who only delivers to Chicagoland stores. My batch was numbered 24 A/B Since they are a suburban brewery, it's easier to find their beers in the suburbs for once. Also has a tap room with growler fill and if you're lucky, you can find it on tap at your local Chicagoland craft bar. Here's a link to their beer menu page
- Color: A solid dark black brown with no other tints
- Head: 1 1/2 finger dense tan head with good retention and shallow rings of lacing
- Aroma: Great nose. Lots of dark chocolate, roasted coffee, a bit of dark fruit and earthiness which opens as it warms. A slight milky sweetness layered underneath.
- Mouthfeel: Full body and creamy. just what you want in a good RIS
- Finish: Long and luscious with just the barest hint of booze at the back
- Food friendly?: Nope. RIS brews don't really play well with food. Sip it after dinner instead of desert. If you absolutely need to nibble on something, a handful of almonds or pecans would be satisfying with this beer.
Are breweries the new Starbucks? I only ask this because it feels like a new one is popping up on a corner almost every time I turn around. Just about every neighborhood here in Chicago can claim at least one brewery as their own ( I'm pretty sure that the next phase in local brewery pride will constitute theme songs and mascots. And I'm going on record predicting that Off Color Brewing's will be otter/kitten related.) Apparently the Chicago suburbs are the newest frontier. Solemn Oath Brewry in Naperville (who has been around for a while, but just started bottling recently). BuckleDown Brewing located in Lyons. And situated in the great city (Town? Village? Dot on the map?) of Westmont, my current favorite, Urban Legend Brewing Company. I first encountered this baby brewery last August at one of my favorite beerfests. I mean, when you get a beer from a guy dressed in a Crocodile Dundee hat, you simply have to stop and talk to him for a while, right? I'm pretty sure that it's the fifth rule of beer fests. They were pouring three of their brews that afternoon. Mistake by the Lake was an APA brewed with Topaz hops. This was my low IBU loving brother's favorite beer of the day. It had 43 IBU and a very clean citrus profile. Mugshot was a Rye Brown Porter that is now available in bombers in your finer Chicagoland craft stores and I'll admit I didn't try it. I'm not a big rye note fan and let's face it, there are a hell of a lot of beers to sample at a good fest. Pacing is important. So is one's ability to stand straight unsupported by the end of the day. My favorite of their selection at the time was Catherine the Great, an approachable 7.8% ABV DIPA with refreshing notes of tangerine and orange. It was, in one word, yum. So when Urban Legend began bottling this month, I basically ran to my local craft store and secured a bottle. I probably should have gotten two.
My The Krispy Karl... listen, I'm just going to call him Karl from now on. Only a pretentious jerk would insist on using an article in front of his name. And let's face it, Karl is a dude you can have a beer with and not worry that he's judging your haircut (he's totally judging your glassware though.) He's from freaking Westmont for Pete's sake. Anyway, my Karl poured a dark, black brown brew when tipped into the snifter. It was a solid pour, with no other tints showing along the edges. A thick, dense dark beige head formed. The one and a half finger foam layer had excellent retention and produced a continual ring of shallow lacing around the rim of the glass. This is exactly how I want an Imperial Stout to look and I took it as a good omen. Of course I also took the fact that the bottle didn't freeze solid the moment I stepped into the dreaded Polar Vortex as a good omen, so six of one, half a dozen of the other. The nose was clear and strong. I could easily pick out notes of dark chocolate and roasted coffee. Good dark chocolate and expensive roasted coffee too, like the kind you'd find in a Viennese coffee shop in Austria (yes, Down the Hatch is a moderately well traveled beer blogger. Although I'll admit, I've never been to Westmont. Yet.) There were softer notes of dark fruit, mainly raisins and prunes, which ended up giving the taste a lovely chewiness. The taste was a well balanced mouthful of dark chocolate, roasted coffee, dark fruit and just a hint of milky sweetness. The alcohol note that is often rather pronounced in Imperial Stouts was very well hidden. At a 13% AVB, getting that layer of warmth instead of outright heat can be tricky. Karl nailed it. The mouthfeel was full and creamy, but still nicely drinkable. Soft carbonation cut the creaminess ever so lightly. A long and luscious finish with a comforting sense of booze inspired warmth slid smoothly down the throat.
If you're a regular reader of this blog (and if you aren't, Welcome! Hop on in. The water's a bit hoppy with amazing lacing) you already realize that I love a good stout/porter. Winter in Chicago is an excellent time to enjoy a well done big stout, especially a RIS. But let's face it, Urban Legend Brewing was a brewery who opened it's doors in August of 2013 and only began to bottle this stout the last week of December. Sure, the head brewer, Timothy Hoerman, was a well respected and award winning home brewer. But there is a world of difference between brewing amazing beer in your kitchen and successfully selling that amazing beer so that you don't end up living in a box on Lower Wacker Drive. It's very early in the lifespan of Urban Legend and who knows what the future will hold for this brewery? Could they be the Revolution of Westmont or the 5 Rabbits? If The Krispy Karl is any indication, I'm putting my money on their sticking around for a good long while. Hopefully long enough for me to actually make it out there for a visit. Bucket list potential.