Ladies and gentlemen we have a treat for you today, well actually it was a treat for me actually doing it to be honest but I absolutely recommend people recreate the experiment, either with the same beers or different beers, as long as the style is the same. Comparing beers is great fun. If you have a few people then a blind taste test is called for but a regular face off is perfectly fine.
On the left we have P2 from the Worthington White Shield Brewery*1. A beer I have had before. On the right we have the simply named Imperial Stout from the Darkstar Brewery*2. (10.5 2010 vintage) and this is my first experience of any of their beers.
Two British beers.
Two Imperial Stouts
Both very different from each other as I found out.
The first difference is obvious, it is how the beers look when poured. Clear from the image above, P2 pours with a large tan head where as the Darkstar has a thin tan head. Look closer and you see bubbles in the P2 where as the Darkstar is thicker and like engine oil.
Moving on to aroma. The Darkstar has smoked vanilla beans (does such a thing exist?), prunes and other dark fruits and then a twang of something odd. It took me a while but eventually I put it down to nail polish, not the remover but nail polish itself. There was a little stinky foot cheese as well. Not a great aroma to be honest.
There is a lot less going on in the P2 aroma and in this case that's a good thing. woody, smokey liquorice with some chocolate.
Time to drink and the Darkstar tasted like nail polish with about the same consistency. Well at least at first it did. It turns out it is a little fizzier than it looks, there was actually a little carbonation in it, though not as much as P2. The middle is rich chocolate and fruit with a boozy finish. As the beer warmed though, it mellowed out quite considerably and became far easier to drink.
The P2 on the other hand was easy to drink from the get go. While not a session stout by any stretch of the imagination, compared to the Darkstar, I could drink it all night.
You can read my full thoughts on P2 in a previous article here.
I enjoyed my Imperial Stout face off very muchly and I encourage others to do the same. Double fisting is always good fun.
*1 They still need to fix their website, it has coding errors all over the place.
*2 Love their website, It's very American in it's presentation. My only gripe is being forced to open a pdf in when clicking on a beer. I can't stand websites that use PDFs. Give me the option of downloading a content rich PDF after I get some basic info about the beer!