Another week is in the books and that means it is time to wrap things up with a long overdue segment of Tasting Notes covering a beautifully warming Imperial Stout from Starr Hill Brewery (Charlottesville, Virginia), Shakedown Imperial Chocolate Cherry Stout.
Before we get to the details and the review of this fine beverage, I have to take a moment to apologize for my absence over the last couple of weeks. The holidays and an ill-advised DIY renovation of my guest bathroom became a bit more than I could handle for a few days, so that led to the frequency of my posts and reviews to suffer for a bit. Things are now back to normal (well, the bathroom isn’t quite there yet), and you can expect your daily dose of Alabama beer news to continue as usual.
With that out of the way, what do you say we move on to the beer? Shakedown Imperial Chocolate Cherry Stout comes to us by way of the All Access Series from Starr Hill Brewery, a series of limited offerings that are the brewery’s most innovative and unique. Shakedown is a sizable Imperial Stout that is fermented with real cherries and dark chocolate to create an indulgent brew that is perfect for the winter months. The finished beer comes in at a slow sipping 9% ABV and 45 IBUs. For all the details on Shakedown, here’s the full brewery description:
Shakedown Imperial Chocolate Cherry Stout is a full-bodied imperial stout with cherries and dark chocolate blended into the beer during fermentation. Aromas of bittersweet chocolate and subtle fruit delight the senses. Tartness from the cherries balances the smooth cocoa sweetness. Malty, chocolate and dark fruit flavors create a rich and complex beer that is meant to be savored slowly.
Now that we have all been properly introduced to this brew, let’s get to some Tasting Notes!
Tasting Notes on Shakedown Imperial Chocolate Cherry Stout from Starr Hill Brewery
Appearance: Shakedown pours up in the glass a super glossy, jet black body that is completely opaque. Held to the light, the beer remains mostly opaque with just a touch of light pushing through near the head to create a thin, dark cola effect. The pour yielded half a finger of gingerbread colored foam that falls but retains at a quarter finger throughout the experience. Chunky lines of lace notch the glass after each sip, and a slightly yellow oil slick coats the glass as well. Simply beautiful presentation for an Imperial Stout.
Aroma: The first smell coming from this brew is semi-sweet, slightly bitter dark chocolate. Dark fruits follow closely behind with tart cherry leading that charge. Subtle roast tames the sweet aromas a bit with dark coffee notes. Overall, the aroma is a bit more subdued than I’d expect from such a big beer, but what is there is incredibly pleasing to the nose.
Taste: What it may lack in aroma, Shakedown more than makes up for in flavor. Both tart and sweet cherry notes start things off, and they pack a punch. Rich, high quality dark chocolate pushes through next with bitter, sweet and indulgent qualities blanketing the palate. A touch of hop presence actually provides some balance with some very light citrus and earthy notes hiding behind the scenes. Although these flavors may sound overly sweet, the flavors are actually nicely balanced to provide a tasty, dessert-like treat without becoming cloying. Wonderful.
Mouthfeel: This Stout is full bodied with a moderate carbonation level to it. It is slick and coating on the palate, allowing all flavors to linger long for extended savoring. Warmth from the 9% ABV is surprisingly light with just a touch of heat building in the belly over time. Aftertaste is just as it should be: dark chocolate covered fresh cherries.
Final Thoughts: Shakedown Imperial Chocolate Cherry Stout comes together exactly as billed. The look is textbook for an Imperial Stout, flavors and aromas easily boast the promised cherries and chocolates, and it has an incredibly pleasing mouthfeel that makes this big Stout somehow both easy drinking and slow sipping. This beer wants you to savor it, and savor I did. Although Shakedown is officially only available through December, it is still hanging around on draft and in four-packs at local craft beer retailers. If you are looking for a fantastic dessert beer to put in the fridge this winter, look no further than Starr Hill Brewery’s Shakedown. Enjoy! Prost!