I'll admit, with this one, I was entirely enticed by the "Brown Paper Bag" that the beer comes in, that I almost wanted to just drink it out of the bottle. Instead, I decided to use a snifter glass. This is 8.5% ABV according to the label, but definitely seems higher.
Appearance: The bottle itself is emerald green like a Heineken bottle but really nice thick glass and a very snug and large bottle cap enticing me even more to just drink it straight out of the bottle. A nice aroma emerged from the bottle as well as I popped it. This beauty poured copper and golden into the glass getting darker as it filled the glass up with an almost dreamsicle orange head. Nose: This one has a lot of huge fruit and malt aromas. I can smell banana and peach right off the bat along with some wonderful floral notes that are incredibly strong but nothing overwhelms the other. You can smell the alcohol and malt through it all.
Taste: Deliciously bitter and extremely hoppy. After the third and fourth sip those fruity hops fill your nose and this becomes a serious dream come true for hop lovers looking for an excellently crafted lager. I can't say that I expected to be so floored in this review. This is hands down, one of the most creative pursuits in a lager available. I'm almost tempted not to score it.
Mouthfeel: Thick but not chalky. It lingers with you almost like tea with honey and lemon - and feels that way as it passes the lips. Nectar of the gods comes to mind. Some Double IPAs could be considered more refreshing because this does seem like a meal. I could make an exception to replace this for my coffee on Sunday mornings.
Overall: This is something unique. Belgian beers have always been big and awesome tasting to me. This has a barleywine and Belgian ale feel without the sweetness. The hops shine through in such a beautiful way that you can't even believe it, but you're still reminded of all the ingredients that made it. I can only describe it as pure Belgian bliss that isn't all snobby, but it indeed has class and style. The Imperial hops will cure any hop craving, and for that, you get bonus points from me.
Food Pairings: This has to go with some good mustard, fresh crusty breads and non- nitrate meats - Don't mess around here. I would also love some sharp cheese and pickled veggies. This is a meal in itself so plan accordingly and have a designated driver. Even though the ABV isn't terribly high, this will slow you down. Try Kimchi quesadillas which I was inspired by a friend to make recently. You'll want to use a mild jack cheese or cheddar and SPICY kimchi. Treat yourself to this unique Belgian Lager!
Brown Paper Bag/ Hoppy Imperial Lager / 8.5% ABV / TO ØL / Review: Final Score: 9.1/10
Christopher "Bipp" Rigali