Late last year I spent a day in Iceland on my way back from the Pacific North West. This was a day well spent soaking in the Blue Lagoon, but not a day spent drinking anything more special than the local Gull lager. I had been on the look out for the local Lava smoked imperial stout, recommended to me by @anthonyqkiernan, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I finally got to taste it thanks to his gift of a bottle after his own holiday there last week.
And it was worth the wait. As I poured it out, I got a lovely whiff of smoke, similar to that of the Schlenkerla rauchbier, so I kind of expected it to taste similarly, like a smoked applewood cheddar. But this is much more complex and not at all cheesy – I got dark chocolate, a hint of bacon, caramel, and the lingering reminder of a good Christmas fruit cake. Despite my description it wasn’t a sticky sweet mess but beautifully balanced, with the smoke drifting through and a nice dry finish. It’s also surprising not at all boozy for a beer that’s 9.4%. Now I’ve tasted it, I have the urge to put a few bottles away to try in year’s time, or maybe two. Lucky I am heading back to Iceland for ATP later this year then, isn’t it?