Review: Fort Garry Kona Imperial Stout

Review: Fort Garry Kona Imperial Stout by Cody La Bière
Fort Garry Kona Stout - This is a beer I've been waiting to try since.. well.. February 23rd. The beer was supposed to be released on March 5th to LCs, but due to the fancy painted bottles not being shipped to Manitoba at the right time, it was delayed from March 5th to March 29th, so nearly a month! It was available on tap at a few pubs (and greasy spoons) in Winnipeg, but not in Brandon until this weekend.

This is the second beer in Fort Garry's Brewmaster's Series, the first being Munich Eisbock. Fort Garry isn't known for experimenting with new beer as they have pushed the usual micro-takes-on-macro products like Fort Garry Pale Ale for several years now. This is a line of beer that helps influence Fort Garry fans (and beer drinkers alike) to try something new as one of the easiest ways to get someone to try a new beer is that if you're so much of a fan of a line of beer, you will eventually try just about anything they send your way.

Appearance: Comes in a 650mL bottle with a nice painted label, but I'm not sure if it was worth the wait over just a regular brown bottle with a paper label. Pours a thick dark chocolatey creamy blackness, with a really rich (almost double-double) brown head that slowly diminishes over time, really tasty looking.

Aroma: I can hear a ukelele playing in my head just smelling the tropical aromas in this stout. It's a very coffee influenced stout, with a bit of a tropical spice to it, all thanks to the Kona, Hawaii coffee. I can't put my finger on the spiciness. Honestly, it reminds me slightly of the peppery aroma that was present in Dieu du Ciel's Route des épices. There's nice amount of malt and I'm just wanting to try this damned stout already!

Taste: On the back of the bottle, it states that this has an "intense in your face goodness", it really kind of intense-in-your-face.. if you aren't used to stout ;)

The first thing that hits for me is the coffee, I've never had coffee from Kona before, so I'm just going to assume that this is what it tastes like? It has a bit of a tropical taste to the bean, just slightly nutty. It's bitter, it has a bit of maltiness (though not as near as much as in Black Boss Porter) and has a bit of dark chocolate. The spiciness in the aroma is also seen in the taste, it reminds me of a bit of pepper, but perhaps some Route des épices are stuck in my nostrils and in my taste buds semi-permanently?

Overall Thoughts: Under $6 per bottle, this is a solid stout that has a nice zing of tropical coffee flavour that will please most stout fanatics out there. It took damned long time for it to get released, but it was worth it. It has an ABV of 6.5% so it is no where near as strong as some Imperial Stouts out there. I just can't put my finger on that spice I keep tasting/smelling.. it reminds me of pepper but I'm likely imagining it. You can find this in Manitoba at any MLCC that has a decent selection, though it will likely be going fast! To those in Brandon, yes it's available here! It's at the 10th Street Location, but it's likely going to sell fast as I know a few people planning to hoard as many bottles as possible!

From the label: Introducing Kona Imperial Stout as part of the Fort Garry Brewmaster Series. Not your ordinary ale - this Imperial Stout was brewed with over 50 pounds of rich roasted coffee beans harvested from the sunny shores of Kona, Hawaii. We've also upped the ante by using two types of hops and an international blend of 10 different malts. The flavour is described as "intense in your face goodness" by Matt Wolff, our brewer here at Fort Garry. Enjoy a powerful balance of flavours from the malt, coffee and hops.

Update (June 2012): Kona Stout won silver at the 2012 Canadian Brewing Awards in the category of Imperial Stout! Pretty amazing feat considering the ABV is way too low to be an Imperial! Props to Fort Garry! This will hopefully influence more kickass beers under the Brewmaster series in the future! Kona Stout was the only Manitoban beer that won awards this year.

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