Over the past few years Stone Brewing Company (Escondid0, CA) has become known for bringing together some of the most talented craft brewers to brew collaboration beers. Included in the list of their boundary pushing brews is an annual production batch of Stone’s annual homebrew competition’s winning beer. The 2012 winner was Ken Schmidt, who entered his mint chocolate imperial stout and again wowed the judges enough to choose it as the winning beer. You may remember him from his 2009 winning beer Ken Schmidt / Maui/ Stone Kona Coffee, Macadamia, Coconut Porter. Hence, having enjoyed his first winning beer I was excited to see what his second beer would bring to the table.
This 9.6% imperial stout poured dark black in color with a khaki to light brown head that left a considerable amount of lacing on my glass. Initially the aroma reminded me of Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout with big notes of dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and caramel and bready malts. However, as the beer warmed up the mint became more apparent and reminded me of chocolate covered after dinner mints and Thin Mints.
One the palate I was met with dark and milk chocolate that was followed quite nicely by a kiss of peppermint and rounded out by hints of the various speciality malts used. At times the added malt flavor (beyond the chocolate and caramel) reminded me of graham crackers and pie crust. I should note that before buying this beer I read some reviews that said the mint flavor would be subtle, but I picked it up right away. Once the beer warmed up its flavor profile was all about the flavors blending together because the dark chocolate wasn’t as prominent and became part of the beers overall complexity.
Moving onto mouthfeel and drinkability; the beer was medium to full bodied and a felt a tingle of carbonation in the finish. For 9.6% this Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout was quite drinkable and I enjoyed sipping it while watching TV.
As is the case with most collaboration beers; the following question must be answered once one has finished drinking the beer. Was it a successful collaboration? Or better put…Were the brewers successful in executing their goal for the finished product? In most cases this means a good tasting unique beer. In my opinion this was indeed a successful collaboration because the mint and chocolate components blended quite well and neither of them dominated the beers flavor profile to the point that I questioned how much I was enjoying the drinking experience. Though in my notes that I wrote while drinking this beer I wrote that I am “not sure I’d buy a bottle to age” and that “I think the added ingredients are meant to be enjoyed fresh” and I therefore “may buy more to enjoy over the winter / colder months.”