Look at that bottle up there. Never before today has a beer tried to assassinate the glass I set out for it!
Here’s how it went down. I was loosening the wire cage around the cork of New Zealand’s MOA Imperial Stout and BOOM PING – the plug blew out and ricocheted off the red wine goblet I’d set aside for the nectar inside. Expecting a shower of shards, I flinched, but the glass was sturdier stuff.
Considering this crazy level of carbonation, MOA Imperial Stout pours with a massive tan head that takes minutes to fade. The beer itself is dark as dark can be. What little light gets though highlights tiny bubbles at the bottom of the glass. The aroma is dominated by roasted malt and grain with a distracting bit of cooked cabbage.
This is definitely a stout – dark, roasted, and bitter with chocolate and coffee dominating. MOA puts a spin on this imperial stout by aging it in pinot noir barrels which definitely adds a fruity brightness and acidity that balances all the darkness. I noticed the beer getting sweeter (like a milk stout) as I went – probably a combination of the beer warming and my tastebuds getting used to the bitter elements. Even with the smokiness, I get a fresh white grape essence creeping in at the edges.
I expect stout purists aren’t going to like the winey bits about MOA Imperial Stout, but MOA doesn’t seem interested in being traditional. (Go back and check out my review of MOA Breakfast Beer.) As for me, I can like both smoky, chokey stouts and this relatively lighter, brighter dark.
A warning – MOA Imperial Stout hides its 10.2% ALC very well. Another warning -- don’t point bottle-conditioned beers at fine glasswear, your face, small children, pets, or law enforcement officers.