It’s always a treat to get my hands on something from Lawson’s Finest Liquids, and I was lucky enough to have one come my way recently courtesy of my brother-in-law. I’m sure I could age this, but I broke it out the first cold night we had.
It says on the label to pair with fine cheese, so I have done: Cabot Hunter’s Extra Sharp Cheddar, also from the great state of Vermont, and a mighty fine pairing it was too.
It pours a deep brown color, barely letting any light through when I held it up to one. It’s got a smokey, maple, and brown sugar smell to it. Not as heady as I’d expected for an imperial, but it wasn’t faint either.
It’s a full bodied beer, thick and chewy, with a slightly oily finish, but absolutely spot on for what you want on a cold winter’s night. Low carbonation, and a sort of creamy mouth feel. Absolutely don’t want to be drinking this on a warm summer’s day. It’s got a fortifying quality to it which is perfect for New England winter.
Taste-wise, I’m getting some more of that smokey flavor mixed in with the hops, maple, slightly chocolaty malt and burnt sugar. The alcohol bite is very well suppressed on the back end, but it still manages to peek through before it’s overtaken by a nice, soft, malt finish and a little warming effect as you’d expect. A beer this high in ABV by all rights should have a brutal lingering aftertaste, yet somehow Lawson’s has managed to mask it. I wish Lawson’s wasn’t so hard to get, but maybe it wouldn’t be as special if it were readily available.
Vitals: 10.1 ABV served in a pint glass from a 22 oz bottle probably no more than a month old. Poured into a pint glass at about 50 degrees F. Could be cellarable, but I didn’t wait around to find out.
Taste: A- Another winner from Lawson’s Finest Liquids. If you can find a bottle of this stuff, put it in the back of the fridge to share fireside with a friend on a cold winter night.
Drinkability: B- Boozy flavors are suppressed in this stout, but at 10.1 you should really be sharing this beer.
Value: In this case, it was a gift, so that’d rate an A+, but I’d probably still score it in the ‘A’ range anyway as these beers are so rare and almost never disappoint, I consider myself fortunate when I find them. And as much as I might wish they were easier to obtain, that’s good marketing.
Label Design: B+ Lawson’s has their minimalist style, but they’ve moved from labels that look like they were printed on a dot matrix printer to glossier ones which will hold up to being immersed in ice or icy water (as this bottle was) without smudging all to hell. The gold foil is a nice touch and further suggests that what you are about to enjoy is a special, hand-crafted beer as, indeed, Lawson’s Finest Liquids are.