Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Battle Royale No. 1

note: from time to time, and I can't be any more specific than that, my liver will become a battleground where two brews will go toe-to-toe to see who will be crowned the victor. It will be just like MMA for beer, except without the implied homoeroticism. Two beers enter, one beer leaves. (Actually, strictly speaking, both beers leave, after processing.)

Phillips "Hammer" Barrel Aged Imperial Stout vs Driftwood "Singularity" Russian Imperial Stout

Round One: Fight!

There are stouts, and then there are Imperial stouts, and like most things, the Imperial means "better". Imperial pints? Better than regular pints. The Chrysler Imperial? Better than a K-Car. The Empire Strikes Back? The defense rests.

What we have here are two Imperial stouts in the Russian style, both barrel-aged, and both as serious as an aneurysm. Which I'm probably going to have by trying to drink both. Phillips have barrel-aged their already-excellent Hammer Imperial stout, a personal favourite, but they're going up against Driftwood's Singularity, a hugely intense beer from a company that's grown aggressively over the last two years, and has my go-to IPA in their lineup with Fat Tug. Ah, yes, I really do enjoy a good Tug.


Anyway I have paired these two heavyweights with a nice nigiri sushi. This is not a recommended pairing, I just happened to have it, and this exercise is not for empty stomachs.
Both pour insanely dark, making the soy sauce seem about as black as some insipid herbal tea.

The Hammer is smoother and more balanced than its non-barrelled version. Still packs a wallop though. Now the Singularity...

Ye Gods! I can see time! Just how strong is this stuff?

8.5% and 11.8% respectively, but that's not the whole story. The Hammer seems almost quaffable now after the insane intensity of the Singularity. To compare it to the well-known density of Guinness, the Singularity is like blackstrap molasses next to a teaspoon of sugar dissolved in a large quantity of water. Like the Pacific.

Round One to the Singularity.

Round Two: Fight!

I seem to have lost the ability to use chopsticks. Makes sense, as a significant portion of my medulla oblongata has dissolved.

The Singularity could not be more aptly-named. It's like drinking neutrino star with a hint of bourbon. By comparison, the Hammer seems as mellow as a smooth jazz bassline.

Round two to the Singularity.

Round Three: Fight!



Singularity wins by K.O.! Of me.

Post-Battle Review

For fans of Phillips, the new barrel-aged version of their excellent Imperial stout is a must-try. It's mellow but complicated, and is a great slow sipper.

However, for sheer complexity, Driftwood's Singularity is as dense as sub-atomic string theory, and I have to award it the prize for being the top quark. It's simply a huge beer, trying to drink a whole one by yourself is something only an idiot would do. An idiot like me.

Phillips Hammer Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
Recommended if:
-you own parachute pants
-you're a closet-communist
-you wanted a bit more complexity added to the regular Hammer

Not Recommended if:
-you're questing for the ultimate imperial stout
-you're a whiny little pipsqueak who throws himself down airshafts just because his dad cuts off his hand
-you think Molson Canadian has flavour

Driftwood Singularity Imperial Russian Stout
Recommended if:
-you need to tear a hole in the space-time continuum
-you really hate your brain/liver
-you want an intense taste experience

Not recommended if:
-you can't spell "continuum"
-you have feeble tastebuds
-you don't have any friends to share it with

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