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Friday, July 8, 2011

Consumed: Amsterdam Tempest Imperial Stout - by Rob Symes

The following review of the new Tempest Imperial Stout produced by Amsterdam Brewing Co. was written by Rob Symes of Toronto Beer Week.

There were only 710 bottles packaged of the Tempest, and it has been selling extremely well, so it would be recommended that you call the brewery first before heading there to purchase some... yet, you should still go and check out their other brands.

by Rob Symes:
There’s a storm brewing at the Amsterdam, though this kind of storm only includes a wind warning if consumed with a side of chilli nachos. Amsterdam’s newest beer – Tempest Imperial Stout – joins a small stable of Ontario examples of this weighty style. The buzz on the rating sites is that this brew delivers and that an increasingly experimental direction is paying dividends for the Bathurst Street outfit, and we’re ready to join the chorus.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the packaging for this beer is sexy, dark and sinister. A back and white image of the high of a hurricane casts a shadow over the label, but it’s the waxing that really grabs your attention. It’s rare to see a bottle dipped in wax in Canada. The practice is becoming increasingly prominent in the US – partly to indicate bottles suitable for aging, partly because it looks so damn good, and partly because it improves the appearance of a bottle and increases the chances of the sale. With a few notable examples (Half Pints Burly Wine springs to mind) our brewers have left waxing to their legs and chests, so it’s encouraging to see a waxable style on the market, and a fantastic job done of making the bottle look good.

So, the bottle looks good, but what of the contents? Another thumbs up, and a classic appearance, with a bordering on midnight body and a couple finger of dirty tan head that leaves abundant lacing. A few bubbles lazily make their way up the glass, indicating that the requisite full body is in place. The aroma is the weak point, lacking the fullness of Southern giants like Great Divide’s Yeti, but it still delivers a decent punch, mixing old coffee grounds with a light lactic note. It’s very much in the vein of a traditional English take on the style, and that continues in the flavour, which delivers a good coffee hit, followed by anise and bitter chocolate. I heard that the IBUs for this came in quite high, but it seems more subtle and drinkable than expected, and the bitterness seems to emanate more from the roast than anything. The posted ABV of 9% is nicely integrated – you can tell this is a big beer, but at no point does it cross the line into boozy. The medium body helps to boost the flavours, and a pillowy carbonation bulks things up somewhat. Things improved further as it warmed, and a little below room temperature is probably the best serving point, allowing the full range of flavours to make their presence felt.

Canada’s most populous province sorely lacks imperial stouts, and this entry from Amsterdam is a welcome addition. Its bad boy looks and robust flavour makes for a satisfying quaff, and for those interested in cellaring, this should hold up relatively well.

Amsterdam Tempest Imperial Stout is currently available at the brewery retail store: 21 Bathurst Street, Toronto.

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