On Stouts, particularly the Ballast Point Sea Monster

The stout style is pretty self-explanatory. It is in every way, a “stout” beer – strong, heavy, full-bodied, flavorful and dark. On the other hand, imperial stouts, as one can imagine, are stouts on steroids. During the days of the Russian Czars – they of the unbeatable winters and love of vodka – Mother Russia contracted out its beer production and got theirs from England.
Imagine this scenario: the porter, another beer style, is considered the stout’s littler but older brother. it is a dark ale as well, but not quite as imposing in terms of consistency, flavor and mouthfeel. The porter is named after, well, porters – those big hunky guys loading crates onto ships – because they loved the stuff. The porter was a manly man’s beer, just as the porterhouse (essentially a super-sized T-bone of rib-eye and tenderloin) was the manly man’s steak. Imagine a large, burly white man from England lifting crates then having a porter, kicking ass and taking names at the local pub. Vinnie Jones and Jason Statham come to mind. However, as I just mentioned, porters are the wimpy older brothers of stouts. So stouts would be something even manlier men than Vinnie Jones and Jason Statham would drink. But the Russians weren’t satisfied with these wussy English beers – not even their stouts. Thus was born the imperial stout, or more specifically, the Russian Imperial Stout. It was much stronger in terms of alcohol by volume to help outlast the harsh Russian winters. Therefore they had to be stronger in terms of flavor and body as well in order to balance the increased booziness. Whereas in England, the man makes the beer…
Fun fact: it was only recently that Russia considered beer an alcoholic beverage and not a food stuff.
Not a lot of imperial stouts are available in the Philippines, even more so now that there won’t be any more imports from Southern Tier (glad to have tried the Mokah when I had the chance). I’d say the best one available would be the Stone Imperial Russian Stout, in terms of both price and taste. This beer, the Ballast Point Sea Monster Imperial Oatmeal Stout, comes a close second. Admittedly, one shouldn’t be comparing a Russian Imperial with and American-style Imperial, but those are the exigencies of circumstance. Rogue is just out of the question, because their XS stuff is way too expensive. Their “ordinary” stouts, however, are excellent. I love their Shakespeare and Chocolate Stouts.

But the star of today’s show is the angler fish, also known as the evilest, most male-manipulating dominatrix bitch in the animal kingdom (or the most pathetic guy, depending on which side of the fence you’re on). Yes, this Sea Monster is an Angler Fish, and most likely a female one at that. And just as the Russian Empire laughed at the pathetic English beers, the Ballast Point Sea Monster Stout mocks your puny American Adjunct Lagers. Yes, your fizzy yellow beer is marketed for “real men” and “the most interesting man in the world,” but the man-eating (well, more of absorbing) wench of the sea is an imperial stout, little girly man. As the line goes, “she’s more of a man than you’ll ever be, and more of a woman than you’ll ever get.”

Poured a 22 oz. bomber into a pint glass, showing a thin head of frothy cappuccino. This sea monster was as close to black as the light-deprived ocean depths where the anglerfish lives, almost entirely opaque and viscous, with just the barest of light passing through towards the bottom, giving off a subtle reddish-brown tinge. It had a strong aroma of dark chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, and spice, sparingly bitter, and tasted malty and sweet, champorado with a hint of alcohol. This was surprisingly very smooth for a stout, but with an understandable slight alcohol mouthfeel. Heavy and filling she was, but not quite as full-bodied as a Russian Imperial. A bit of vodka-ethanol aftertaste. Being a Ballast Point, there’s no telling how fresh this bottle was, but I didn’t notice any of the hop aroma or flavors most people point out with the Sea Monster. No complaints, though, as I enjoyed this beer immensely.

My Beer Advocate rating: Appearance: 4.5 Smell: 4.0 Taste: 4.0 Mouthfeel: 4.5 Overall: 4.5

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