Heavy Hitters Score With Big Beers

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The Smuttynose Brewing Company of Hampton, New Hampshire, USA, has brewed a wonder beer in its Smuttynose Imperial Stout. Weighing in at 10 percent abv, it presents a pitch-black colour and a nose of chocolate nibs nudged forward by darkened toast elements and a solid hop bitterness, and from beneath, there is a gentle release of alcohol. The finish is dry, hoppy, roast, chocolate and a hint of dark licorice, oh, and very moreish.

After a tasting, I often, especially so if I like the beer, pour the remainder of a sample into a pint glass sleeve, my preferred vessel for drinking beer, just to see if there are any nuances I may have missed or undervalued.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine brewed by the Great Divide Brewing Company of Denver, Colorado, USA, gallops in a 10.2 percent abv, which is backed with a solid 90 IBUs. Pouring a burnished reddish-brown in colour, it releases aromas of hops and malt that happily co-mingle. The malt flavours succumb to a potent rush of hop bitterness on the palate. Malt, however, does not give up, pushing the hop quotient into balance. The finish has more of the continuing tussle between hops and malt, with no clear winner. A very fine brew for sipping or drinking!

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