One of the great pleasures about beer is when you come across an ale or lager that really stands out and makes a statement - especially on more than one level!

This is rarer than you might think as a great majority of brews conform to type and sit plainly within a mainstream. 

However in brewing, in terms of flavour, it is that added extra dimension passion and skill that sets brewers apart, and makes for such an exciting experience for the cerebral senses!

The other level is design. An interesting difference the world of beer has had over its counterpart wine is creativity and expression in terms of label design, particularly amongst the craft brewers.

Many such brewers seem less constrained by tradition and conformity, and it is fair to say that the New World breweries have led the field here, especially in America.

The wine world has woken up to this however, and this too has come from the New World. This has made countries such as France, Germany and Spain think anew and replicate these more 'Avant Garde' artistic designs bringing originality colour and quirkiness to the shelves. 

Of course conservatism and class expectations still play a part here in Britain, even in terms of label design, and a glance across the shelves of the Marks & Spencer wine selection probably illustrates the dull and unimaginative to greatest effect.

So when a bottled beer of  both real quality and a design of originality come together, it is a rare moment and the stars align!


The beer is Gigantic Breweries Russian Imperial Stout, at an indeed gigantic 10%Alc.vol. The brewery is based in Portland, Oregon, on the West Coast of the USA.

Russian Imperial Stouts, originally a British style, are reproduced around the world. It is a style that is very much open to personal brewers interpretation, and some you question whether they fit into the criteria at all.

This beer both stylistically and in terms of strength does, but again has a touch of malt sweetness rather than roastiness which could theoretically push it in to another category Foreign Stout.

The aroma has a deep inviting dark fruit and coco bean nose with a touch of vanilla.

The body, given its strength, is more medium weighted than expected but has a flavour of dusted coated coffee bean, espresso and smooth dark 70% plus chocolate.

The flavours are well married and the hops nicely integrated. The maltiness gives a suggestion of sweetness and the roasted malts are played down.

The label is equally original this being the 15th artistic release in the Gigantic series by Frank Kozik and is emblazoned in colour.

All in all a satisfying experience where fine brewing and creativity come together. 

Here is to the next alignment  - whenever it may be!




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