Holy shit, I have just tasted the best Imperial Stout ever! Sure, Smuttynose is good. Brooklyn is good. Haven't had the Dogfish Head World Wide yet (although that is more Double Imperial at 20% ABV). But this is awesome!
As the devout will know, I have been going out of my way to find Barley Wines and other big seasonal beers (that is, high alcohol) to sample, take notes on, think about, and ultimately write about here on my blog life (and on my other blog life at www.brainardbrewing.com/blog/). So I am used to the fruity esters in aroma and flavor and the warming burn that high alcohol beers bring to the table. I like it a lot of times, but sometimes I wish it weren't that way.
I have finally found a high alcohol commercial beer without a lot of alcohol burn. In fact, if you didn't tell me the alcohol content (which is in the 9% area) I would guess it could even be a regular stout, or maybe a slightly big 7% stout. But no, it is a full 9%. Big as any beer, but the beauty is that the flavors of the base style come through in a big way. There's no overdose of hops. No alcohol bomb waiting for you. Just an awesome stout that seems to anticipate the flavor of alcohol and be made just to accompany that flavor.
The best part is that you don't even have to be able to get this stuff at your local beer store. You can buy it online from one of the coolest web sites I've found lately: Liquid Solutions. I like the place so much that I am in the process of becoming an affiliate over at Brainard Brewing. Personally, I am going to get at least another case of this stuff. I don't want to ever run out.