Sam Adams Five Crown Imperial Stout

In the battle between chocolate and booze, neither is a victor but everybody wins.

Such is the theme of Sam Adams Five Crown Imperial Stout, an excellent entry into the beer company’s Longshot homebrew competition line. It’s got an 85 on Beer Advocate.

This beer may kick your ass, but that’s a good thing. From the start, you have a great idea of what you’re getting with it. Five Crown pours midnight black with next to no head. A lighthouse isn’t sufficient to see through this beer.

Take a whiff and you find a wide range of aromas, including chocolate, raisin, fig and vanilla cream. And the booze. At 8.9 percent, this beer is nothing to sneeze at, but don’t let that number fool you. My impression was that this high-alcohol beer doesn’t smell like one, thanks to its heavy malt characteristic. The roasted grain gives Five Crown a great sweet counterbalance to the alcohol that even varied from one smell/sip to the next. You can have you cake and eat it too.

Which is a perfect segue into the flavor, which I found to be just as complex. Just like the beer’s aroma, the chocolate of the malt and alcohol flavor end up in a tango on your tongue, dancing around and leaving you with just a touch of bitter as it goes down. (That was dramatic, wasn’t it?) What surprised me the most was a trick played on my taste buds – some kind of remnant of berry. Is it the blend of chocolate and sweet malt? I don’t know, but it’s delicious.

I want to say there were some coffee-like aspects to this beer, but none that stood out worth noting. It’s just chocolate and booze slugging away at each other.

Hit the jump for my “Rate That Beer” sheet.

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