Snowed In Imperial Stout

Snowed In Imperial Stout
22 oz bottle, $10, 9.5% ABV

Purchased at the brewery, Manchester

snowedTen dollars. I paid ten dollars for this beer. What’s wrong with me?

[No, really, what IS wrong with me? It’s been like 10 months since I drank this, yet I remembered that I wrote something about it, without naming it, on an old Relic review. This one for Antiquity, here. I’m insane.]

I’m so used to paying ten to twenty dollars for quality bombers, that dropping an Alex Ham on this wasn’t even an issue at the time. Like, whatever man, here’s a fifth of a tank of gas for your beer. Beer from a brewery that I had had very dicey experiences with from the get go.

And no, I’m not rich.

But hey, bully for Top Shelf, right? Enough mopes like me have bought their beer over their first year to keep them going for perhaps a second year. And while i’ve not had a decent Top Shelf beer to date, I only had their stuff from their first few months. I sometimes think it’s unfair to review new beers from brand new breweries, but then I think, eh, who cares.

If I’m to believe the top two beer review sites, I would be given the impression that Top Shelf has tightened up their act a little bit. But by believing Untappd and Beer Advocate would also make me an illiterate moron with the taste buds of a 90-year-old three packs a day smoker with Alzheimer’s who just had a stroke. So the jury is still out on these guys.

Everyone loves an Imperial stout. Especially on a winter’s day, perhaps with a few feet of snow outside. I know I sure do, though I must admit, i’m quite tired of “bourbon barrel aged” stouts. I can’t give away my stash of that style enough. I almost feel badly dropping them on friends; even $20 Nebraska or Boulevard Brewing ones. (Which I have just recently given to people simply because I’m tired of them.)

Again, I’m not rich. Something is wrong with me.

Top Shelf says:

A strong, black as night beer full of burnt bitter chocolate rounded out with notes of roasted coffee. Light, but spicy hops and caramelized sugar in the nose enhance the bittersweet finish. Enjoy while preparing for the wrath of Old Man Winter.

DoneIn_SnowedInUnfortunately, the wrath of Old Man Winter descended upon this beer. Something, as seem to be the unfortunate case with many Top Shelf offerings, was off with this beer. It was way too thin to call a proper stout, but I can get past that if everything else is in order.

With the Snowed In, it was not. The classic Top Shelf Band-Aid flavor was present in the background, and the “roasted coffee” was more of a “burnt-to-hell” flavor. Bitter is good. Burnt bitter is not. Another issue with this beer was the alcohol burn. As other breweries have shown us time and time again, brewing up an imperial anything, with higher ABV than this one, can deftly be done with little to no alcohol burn.

So this beer had unintended (I would think) burn, burnty burnt notes, all wrapped up with a nice big phenolic rubber boot with a Band-Aid on top. Oof.

However! Yes, I’m going to give some credit here – however… despite all that mess going on, the Snowed In showed promise. I know, it sounds like I’m grasping here, but I don’t mean to. The bones of this beer are well-intended: a straightforward imperial stout. I would think that with some tighter quality control and a better malt/grain bill, the Snowed In could be pretty good.

Top Shelf uses plastic fermenters and I wonder if that’s the genesis of their infection issues. I will absolutely give them another chance after they are a year into this whole brewing thing.

And silly me will buy a bunch of bottles again.

Overall Rating: D+
Rating vs. Similar style: F

Top Shelf Brewing Company
Back to CTMQ’s Reviews of Top Shelf beers
Back to CTMQ’s Connecticut Beer Page
Back to CT Breweries page

Leave a Comment

The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism