Beer: Imperial Extra Double Stout
Brewery: Albert Le Coq
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Pint glass
Primary Consumer: Kerensa
Sight: Pitch black body with a garnet hue. Dark brown head, frothy with carbonation bubbles.
Scent: Smells like sweet red wine. And leather…polish. (WHAT?)
Flavor: Damp ground and overripe (almost rotten) fruit. There’s a taste of top soil, vinegar, and soy sauce. The funkiness and tanginess is overpowering…
Feel: Thin but sticky body with light carbonation.
Concluding remarks: Is Sour Rank Stout a style? Before I go into why Albert Le Coq’s Imperial Extra Double Stout is the first pour-out of the year, the following is a little bit about why I picked it up at all.
The label states that Albert Le Coq, a Belgian businessman who founded a brewery in Tartu, Estonia, ordered the exportation of the Imperial Stout from England to Russia and the Baltic in the early 1800s. The Imperial Stout was so popular in Russia, that A. Le Coq was invited to brew in the Russian Empire in the 1900s; the first Imperial Extra Double Stout left the brewery in Tartu in 1912. However, with the Russian Revolution and World War I, A. Le Coq’s brewery was nationalized by the Bolshevik government and production ceased. This beer, the label says, pays homage to A. Le Coq, “without whom this classic style would never have reached its legendary place in the world of beers.” This Imperial revival was brewed by Harvey & Sons of Sussex, England, but under the supervision of the board of trustees of A. Le Coq and Tartu Brewery in Estonia.
SO! How could I not pick up a beer that claims to be the first Imperial Russian Stout in the world? And it was brewed in 1999, thus aging for 13 years. I don’t think I’ve ever had a beer this old before, if only because it just seems a little too old. However, I put my trust in A. Le Coq and Estonia.
This was a foolish mistake. This beer earns a half point only because it looks like a Stout and it gives me a strange sense of nostalgia of subpar European macrolagers and Flemish sours. However, I think this beer has just sat a few years too long, and thus, it’s sort of unfair for me to review it in its current state. But, I did a little research, and it seems like the recently bottled Le Coqs are palatable. So, if you can find a 2008-2012, maybe give it a try, at least to say you’ve had an Estonian-style Stout. But absolutely do not buy something before 2004. Really, don’t do it, unless you’ve always wondered what carbonated shoe/soy sauce would taste like.