Blood of Cthulhu | Sawdust City Brewing Co.
From a 473ml can served at cellar temperature at 12 degrees Celsius into a TeKu glass. Packaged on September 12th - making this less than two weeks old. Thanks to Sawdust for a clear label and quick distribution. I picked up this brew from the LCBO just a few days ago and I'm looking forward to reviewing it after having had many of the previous editions.
The beer pours a clear-ish black with 2cm of frothy, mocha head which dissipates into a partial film within 2+ minutes. Great lacing with decent head retention. Pretty good looks but it certainly doesn't stand out.
Medium-strong intensity with good balance. The aroma is deep and reminiscent of a classic, russian imperial stout with red berries. Moderate roasty-burnt (wood char) character with notes of bakers chocolate, coffee, and mild brown sugar are paired up with bright red berries (cherries + raspberries). A hint of ethanol and a touch of herbaceous hops (menthol) add balance. Drop in a smack of tobacco, black licorice, and some meaty notes (bacon) and you've got an excellent, complex aroma worthy of contemplation. The dry nose has a lot of brown sugar in it with some meaty notes.
Follows the aroma with strong intensity, bitter balance, and assertive perceived bitterness. The intense palate opens up slightly tart with notes of red berries (raspberries + cherries) and dark malts (roast + coffee + chocolate) whereas the center becomes less bright and takes on a dark malt-forward tone with notes of smoke (ashy/cigarettes), more chocolate, herbal hops (menthol) and some ethanol. Some of the berries hold on for the ride but most of them drop out by the finish which is long, strong, and bitter-ish with notes of roasted barley, herbal hops, mild caramel, and hints of ethanol. This is certainly a mouthful.
Full body with medium-low carbonation. The mouthfeel is somewhat smooth and quite heavy/chewy with restrained alcohol warming of considerable strength and an off-dry finish. Mild astringency yet no harshness on the palate. I'm craving a tad more sweetness... just a tad.
Sawdust City Brewing's Blood of Cthulhu is a very good beer. The special ingredients are well-incorporated in the overall character of a russian imperial stout. I didn't note cranberries as a descriptor because the cherries and raspberries come across more pronounced for me. My favourite component of this brew is the aroma which has great depth, complexity, and balance. Where I'm left yearning for more is the flavour and mouthfeel. Flavour-wise I'm mostly satisfied but every now and then I'm struck with a dash of medicinal phenols and an ashy cigarette note that takes away from my overall drinking experience. The mouthfeel is good but it has astringency which leaves the palate on the dry side and with so much dark malt character coming through, I'd prefer more residual sweetness for balance - this beer is not even close to cloying. If you like hefty stouts with an unconventional element, this one's worth buying. I'd happily drink this again even if it's not a stand out brew for me.