Welcome dark beer brewers, lovers, consumers, and aficionados. We’ve got a special one today, a beer of epic proportions, this is perhaps the epitome of coffee beers.
Sump is an Imperial Stout from Perennial, in St. Louis, MO, along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. Established in September 2011, Perennial has a simple, but admirable mission, employing a “…philosophy to brew beer with the adventurous craft beer drinker in mind—focusing on hand-crafted, small batches of beer, using local, seasonal and organic ingredients as much as possible.” Churning out a broad array of styles, their beers are often influenced by popular Belgian (Strong Pale, Dubbel, Saison, and Tripel), as well as solid American craft styles (Barleywine, Imperial Stout), often utilizing fruit, spices, and wild yeast strains to give them a bit of an edge. Their Suburban Beverage Gose was brewed with Valencia Oranges, Key Lime, and Meyer Lemon, and the famed Abraxas is brewed with Cacao Nibs, Ancho Chiles, Vanilla Beans & Cinnamon Sticks. With all this in mind, they always manage to strike an impeccable balance and poise in each offering. You might also notice the lack of an IPA on their beer list, a rarity these days, but when you churn out beers that are this good, you can make a strong case that the IPA is unnecessary, at least in this case.
Sump gets its name from the locally roasted coffee that is dosed into this behemoth of an Imperial Stout. Located about five miles from the brewery, it’s always nice to see local collabeerations. I certainly enjoyed the Java Lava that Aslan and Bellingham Bay Coffee Roasters teamed up on this fall. Let’s get into this one, shall we?
Brewery — Perennial Artisan Ales / St. Louis, MO
Beer — Sump / Imperial Stout
ABV — 10.5%
Price — $19.99 / 750 ml
Availability — Limited / Seasonal
Appearance (3/3) — Holy crap does this look amazing in the glass, this pours out of the bottle like motor oil, if you’ve ever poured a can of TenFidy, just imagine that liquid, but heavier, flowing steadily out of the bottle into the glass. A pitch black body of beer slowly forms a dark brown thin and oily head on top of the beer. Looks almost like espresso while it sits in the glass. Each sip of the distilled coffee leaves behind unctuous spots of lacing down the inside of the snifter.
Aroma (10/12) — Incredible. Intense. Fresh. Potent. All viable descriptors for this beer. Right of the bat you are hit with notes of fresh espresso and freshly ground dark roasted coffee beans. Close your eyes and you are almost transported to the back of the coffee shop where they are roasting the delicious beans. It is warming, oily, intense and bold. Once you channel through the coffee goodness there are solid notes of bitter dark chocolate, freshly made fudge, caramel, and a hint of vanilla. Really a dark abyss of aromas.
Flavor (18/20) — Beautifully done, remarkable depth of flavors. Starts semi-sweet with notes of fudge, brownie, dark chocolate chunks, powdered chocolate, a hint of vanilla caramel. As it warms and develops the coffee really comes to the forefront, a nice freshly roasted bouquet of coffee and chocolate, espresso, dark roast, charred almost. A slightly bitter and tangy finish that is reminiscent of chewing on some dark chocolate covered espresso beans, good ones.
Mouthfeel (4/5) — Bold, solid, stout, substantial. This beer goes down smooth with just the right amount of carbonation. Very well composed without being overly heavy or showing too much sweetness. This is quite balanced.
Overall (9/10) — This remains one of the best coffee beers I have ever had, bar none. Incredibly balanced notes of fresh coffee, chocolate, and roast, can’t ask for anything more.
TOTAL SCORE — 44/50 — EXCELLENT
Go snag one now while you still can, have a great week!