Okay, they’re not wine. Let’s get that out of the way first.
So apologies for that.
They are, however, alcoholic drinks at a wine-like strength that could be sipped with dinner as a wine would. And we are selling them in our wine-boutique.
I have been vaguely aware of Russian Imperial Stout for many years when I seem to recall a retail customer at my old firm who had cases specially ordered for him.
Originally brewed in London in the 1700s for the Russian court, it was always strong and dark. And it became a “style” rather than a brand and now with the resurgence of interest in beer (note without resorting to the cringing “c” word), several small breweries are rediscovering the taste for making it.
The other is made in Stavanger Norway by what is rapidly becoming my favourite Brewery Lervig.
The Subluminal (named presumably because no light can pass through it rather than a subliminal typo) on the left looks like a glass of squid ink with a dark grey head and has an intriguing “thickness” to it. Huge bang of bitterness with little or no balancing sweetness. Would work like a dearer French Malbec perhaps with a steak.
Konrad’s Stout is altogether softer and easier to drink. The bitterness is present but at a lower level and what there is is calmed by an appealing sweetness. Inky still though. Can be enjoyed easily on it’s own.
Stylistically these beers are a world apart and the differences seem to me to revolve around brewers ambition. And this brings me to why I now think I am drawn to Lervigs’ beers so much.
Every Lervig beer I have sampled has been good and most have been excellent and for whatever ethereal, undemonstrable reason, I get the impression that they aren’t even trying. Making this stuff feels easier for them than for others. Effortless. The way Mr. Turner paints in the eponymous film compared to the way Constable struggles. Or arguably Mozart compared to Beethoven.
And I love their pricing – it’s all affordable. And the undesigned labels. No pretension here even if the Nordics in the website picture are bearded hat-wearers. It’s probably cold up there.
Both of these beers are excellent and will appeal differently to different palates but for me the Subluminal is like an over-extracted, over-oaked Cabernet Sauvignon; trying too hard to be impressive.