GrassLands Brewery is a new craft brewery 'in planning' out of Tallahassee, Florida. With the company slogan 'Earth First Ales', owner Gabe Grass is hoping to provide Northwest Florida (and eventually the state, followed by the country and on to the world) with 'uniquely crafted beers made with 100% natural malts, hops and adjuncts', using organic ingredients and recycled materials 'whenever and however possible'.
GrassLands Brewery is also committed to 'environment and animal welfare', utilizing 'environment-friendly and sustainability/conservation-focused business and operation practices' in all facets of the brewery. A brewery that aims to make great beer while helping the environment; it's easy to root for GrassLands.
We've reviewed Grasslands' Le Roi Rouge Imperial Red in the past, and came away impressed. This time we're lucky enough to get our hands on GrassLands' Black Rose Immortal Imperial Stout (BRIIS). The name is derived from this song, and we're going to do our best to not hold that against the beer. (Kidding!)
Sitting at 10% ABV with a base malt of UK Maris Otter, along with roasted barley, chocolate rye, and specialty malts and 'heavy helpings' of Columbus, Willamette and Spice hops, BRIIS will eventually become one of GrassLands' limited release seasonals.
Gabe's going for a 'high-gravity, full-bodied imperial stout with complementing chocolate, roasted malt and spice flavors and aromas'. Our bottle of BRIIS was brewed in November and bottled in December 2012. We received our beer February 12th and reviewed it February 27th, 2013 using the Beer Advocate Ratings System.
As is usually the case when I review a beer, my girlfriend participated in the tasting. She has an excellent palette, more discernible than mine, and bouncing opinions off each other leads to a more well-rounded review. Also, she loves beer.
On to the review!
Appearance: Very dark with a minimal but velvety head. Medium carbonation that was only visible when holding the beer up to a light. Very inviting beer.
Smell: Sweet, with roasted malts and dark chocolate notes.
The girlfriend: "All his beers smell amazing. He should make them into candles".
Taste: Rich with strong chocolate and roasted malt flavors. Some spiciness, not as sweet as I would have expected from the smell. A hint of nuttiness. Long, smooth finish.
Mouth Feel: Heavy and smooth. Medium carbonation (not flat, not over done).
Overall Impression: Bordering on being a chocolate shake, but in a good way. Everything is balanced, the flavors intense. For a beer with 10% ABV, the alcohols seemed understated, probably due to the strong flavors (although you'll feel it when you're done). If you're a fan of heavier beers and enjoy chocolate, BRIIS is for you.
Final Score: 4.55
Comments: It's tough to be critical of beer this good that's also your favorite style. We didn't notice much of the intended spiciness, but didn't miss it either. If the beer was a little lighter, maybe a little sweeter, the perspective audience might be larger. But I'm not sure either would make it a better beer.
When introducing his Black Rose Immortal Imperial Stout Gabe claimed it was best consumed 'sitting in a huge armchair near a roaring fire while debating medieval battle strategies'. I can't argue with that. BRIIS reminds me of my first taste of Guinness years ago when I realized there was a whole world of beer beyond watered-down light American lagers.
Owner Gabe Grass has been very open and honest in his quest to build Tallahassee's next great brewery. If you'd like to follow along make sure to check out the GrassLands Brewery website, and you'd like a chance to review one of his selections be sure to join the GrassHoppers Review Club.