- Appearance – Thick and oily. Dense. Dark frothy head. Black as night.
- Aroma/Flavor – Fudge and char are supreme. Very sweet. Rich like a dark chocolate dessert.
- Mouthfeel – Thick and viscous. Moderate carbonation. Sticky, with well-hidden alcohol but still a sipper at 11%.
- Overall – Satisfying. Serve as a dessert beer with friends or late in the lineup at a tasting.
Tonight I opened another bottle from Cigar City Brewing down in Tampa, FL. Presented in a 750ml size bottle with a brief description of the beer on the label.
This Russian Imperial Stout is dedicated to Georgy Zhukov, arguably one of the finest generals of World War II. Opaque black in color, with notes of espresso, chocolate, dark toffee and hints of backstrap molasses. The English hop varietals provide a subtle herbal dryness, and finishes with a hearty slap of roasty espresso. Pair Marshal Zhukov’s with Mushroom Solyanka, dark chocolate, cherries and ground wars in Russia.
Each year they release their acclaimed Russian Imperial Stout – Marshal Zhukov’s. The release at the brewery has grown in size and proportions, culminating in a very special party this summer in which 30 customers got to have a traditional Russian dinner in the brewery freezer. They walked away with some special beer and a sweet-ass hat.
So, the brewery seems to have a lot of fun with this one. Let’s see how much enjoyment I can find in this Iron Curtain in a bottle…
Poured into a Cigar City snifter, Marshal Zhukov’s is as thick as they come. With the consistency of the unchanged sludgy oil of an obsolete model WWI-era tank, this Russian Imperial Stout promises to be a slow sipper already. The head cascades upwards with the pour to produce a wonderfully dark foam cap the color of fudge. This slowly fades back into the blackness of the brew beneath. The foamy head is thicker than the ranks of the Russian infantry. Lacing is intermittent but thick – a wall of opposition rushing to meet the opposing perfection of the glass. But glass grows brittle in cold; the Germans are being staved off with the aid of Marshal Zhukov.
The aroma on this behemoth brew is deep and robust. Roast is like careening grapeshot – explosive and devastating. Hidden within that grapeshot is the seed of fruit aroma – berry and raisin. There’s an interesting mustiness lingering in this beer, one that makes one think that there are some English counterparts to the Red Army pent up inside the bottle. There is also a ton of sweetness to consider here – coffee cake and fudge and all of the sweet sticky residuals of unfermented body-enhancing malt sugars.
If the aroma is the artillery clearing a path to victory, then the flavor is the general infantry’s sound to charge. Dark fudge and bitter char render your palate a wasteland – just as any long-used battlefield becomes through history. There’s some ashiness going on, but the density of the beer helps to mediate an attribute that can be a bit drying and gritty in other beers. The biggest thing of note though, is the sweetness. It’s a great treat to sip on, but it can be a bit much to take in at times as well. The mouthfeel is thick and silky with moderately low carbonation. The alcohol – clocking in at 11% – is never as oppressive as the Axis opposition, but it does creep up on you and also adds as another limiting factor on the beer’s drinkability.
Overall a really nice Russian Imperial Stout, this Marshal Zhukov’s… I highly recommend sharing with comrades; it’s big, bold, heavy, and sweet. I would really enjoy trying this barrel aged though!