Dark Horse Plead the 5th
Scott gave me a bottle of this because it's one of his all-time favorite beers, and the store didn't get any this year. I'm not sure how old this bottle is, but thanks, Scott, for letting me try it.
Pours into my pint glass extremely dark, completely opaque, with a thin dark brown head that dissipates almost immediately. That's more-or-less to be expected for an RIS with this much alcohol. Smells very malty with some hints of alcohol astringency. Hints of chocolate, coffee, even the cherries you get sometimes with incredibly rich Russian Imperial Stouts. As the beer warms, the nose is filled with lots of rich dry roastiness.
I take my first swallow, and holy fuck is this thing incredible. Very smooth on the palate, rich with coffee, chocolate, and roastiness, with just the right amount of alcohol burn on the way down the gullet. Other than that last bit you don't get a sense of the alcohol at all -- the astringency is completely hidden in the flavor, which is a remarkable technical achievement in a beer this high-gravity. It's possible this bottle is a year old or more (have to ask Scott), which would help explain the smoothness, but even then it's astonishing just how delicious this beer is.
I can't get over how smooth this guy is. I could drink a dozen bottles -- damn the alcohol! This is up there with Bell's Expedition and Founder's Impy Stout and Stone RIS and all of those other famously-good RIS's for me... and I'm a huge fan of the style. If this doesn't make my Best of 2010 list eleven months from now, this will have been an astonishingly good year.
My overall BA rating: 4.6/5