When you think of Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company you probably don’t think of Imperial Stout. Leinenkugel makes middle-of-the-road, mass-appeal lagers. If they did make an Imperial Stout, it certainly couldn’t be a good one. At least that’s what many beer aficionados might say.
It’s not that Leinenkugel makes bad beer. For the most part they don’t. It’s just that their beers are not of the sort that appeals to the nattering nabobs of beer-geekdom. And Imperial Stout is the quintessential beer nerd’s beer.
But there it is, an Imperial Stout from Leinenkugel.
This week Leinenkugel is re-releasing Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout. I first tried this beer two years ago at the Autumn Brew Review. Someone brought me a sample saying, “Try this. It’s an Imperial Stout from Leinenkugel.” I too was skeptical. Then I tasted it. It was, in fact, a big, complex, full-bodied Russian Imperial Stout.
Big Eddy Imperial Stout was named after Big Eddy Spring, the water source for the Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin brewery for over a century. Big Eddy isn’t brewed in Chippewa Falls, though. That brewery only does lagers. Big Eddy and other ales produced by Leinenkugel are brewed at a Miller facility in Milwaukee.
Here’s my notes:
Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout
Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Serving Style: 12 oz Bottle
Aroma: Chocolate, molasses, and caramel. Like rich fudge brownies. Some minty, herbal hops add a whiff of refreshment. Dark fruits add depth; prunes and figs.
Appearance: Black as black can be. Sports a big, creamy, brown head that lasts a good long time.
Flavor: A complex blend of dark, roasty malt defines this beer; bittersweet chocolate, molasses, coffee. Dark fruits like figs and prunes swirl underneath. Moderate bitterness keeps the whole thing from becoming too sweet, while hop flavors add dashes of mint, earth, licorice, berries and citrus. The finish is remarkably light and dry, with lingering whisps of minty hops.
Mouthfeel: Thick and chewy. Full-bodied. Grainy. Low carbonation. Moderate creaminess
Overall Impression: This beer does surprise. One really wouldn’t expect it from Leinenkugel. But there it is; a thick, complex, bruiser of a Russian Imperial Stout. It’s worth picking up a four-pack.