Thursday, May 24, 2012

Verdi Imperial Stout - Stout Brewed With Hot Chili

Trying to get back on the beer blogging bandwagon, I am serving up another Italian beer review. The purchase was impulsive and the "stout brewed with hot chili" typed on the label is what piqued my curiosity. Couple that with the fact that it was the only bottle I could find in the entire store, plus the label being extremely faded and worn made for a good enough reason to buy. In my mind the bottle had travelled a great distance before arriving here. Next thing I know I'm at the register, paying for it.

Verdi Imperial Stout was so named for renowned Italian Opera Composer: Giuseppe Verdi who grew up near the present day location of Birrificio Del Ducato in Le Roncale in North Central Italy. Continuing with the sampling of Italian beers it would seem that I've encountered some very excellent beers. And the scene there continues to explode and I wonder if it's not just a matter of time before the local populations catch onto the fact that they've copious amounts of delicious craft beer within the borders of their country. The Italian craft beer industry has garnered mass attention worldwide, but mostly due to the exportation of their products. Travelling through the country the price of beer is not cheap by any means (especially when compared to that of local wines). I wonder if this more than anything has been a major reason for the lack of interest. Who knows? But there is in fact good beer coming out of Italy. And if you're lucky enough to have a local market or bottle shop selling some of the goods, then drink up my friend. Alright, I'll keep this entry short. Onto the Imperial Chili Stout!

Name: Verdi Imperial Stout
Category/Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 8.20%
IBU: Unknown
OG: Unknown
FG: Unknown
Malt Type(s): Unknown
Hop Type(s): Unknown
Yeast Type: Unknown
Special Additives: Chili Peppers
Bottled: Unknown
Bottle Size: 330 mL
Location Purchased: Di Laurenti, Seattle, Wa, USA

The Pour: Head is nice, dark, creamy and tan. Colour is wide and ranging; can see traces of reddish hues at the edges but it mostly looks to be dark chestnut brown. Retention is decent. Some lacing.

The Nose: Wow. This nose knocked me back. The aroma has a definite saltiness about it. I'm getting hints of worcestshire sauce and a definite smokey edge which lends an almost barbecue-sauce like characterstic to the aroma. There is a definite cocoa powder note and something else, almost piquant (quite possibly the peppers). Swirling the bowl of the snifter a heavy malt backbone rears its head and I'm also detecting a noticeable mustiness. A sharp spicy bite is detectable; it kind of reminds me of a dark chocolate with chili bar. I'm hoping the taste is on par with the nose...

The Taste: Incredibly dark roasted flavours present themselves from the get-go and there is a very noticeable spicyness on the tongue throughout the first sip. Initially the flavours and aroma pack a wallop on the palate while simultaneously travelling into your nose but those flavours only linger ever so slightly and it finishes with light notes of cocoa and a spicy warmth trickling down your throat. Carbonation is light and the body is medium. The maximum punch of spicy chili peppers peaks midway through and it lingers just on the tip of your tongue. A smokiness works its way to the forefront right at this point and you're left with the perfect amount of spicy and smokey. It really is a very nice beer. Incredibly well-balanced for such a strong, malty, rich brew and the flavour is only slightly salty. It is quite on par with the nose, which I am more than happy about.

The Verdict: I feel like I could drink a lot of this beer and I'm already disappointed I don't have more than this one bottle. The aroma is intoxicating and I feel this beer is more than an ideal pairing for chocolate and thick cuts of steak. The flavours in the beer would definitely hold up well. I've had a handful of chili pepper beers but rarely do they strike as fine a balance as this. The chocolate, roasty and smokey flavours balance perfectly well with the heat from the chili peppers. I'm not sure what else I can say about this beer. It is a prime example of a well-brewed beer. If you love Imperial Stouts, chocolate, chili peppers, or any combination of the aforementioned items don't hesitate to seek out a bottle for yourself. Availability-wise I have no idea. I bought this particular bottle from Di Laurenti at Pike Place Market in Seattle (an Italian specialty store). I spent $11 but it was worth every penny. This is just another prime example of why Italy has been labelled as one of the lesser known premier beer destinations in the world.

Thanks for reading!


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