Review: Garún Icelandic Stout Nr. 19 (Borg Brugghús)

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Originally posted in The Brandon Sun, July 24, 2015

If you have visited the 10th & Victoria Liquor Mart lately, you would have noticed that a lot of your favourite spirits have been moved around. They are currently adding more shelf space to accommodate a larger selection of rums, whiskies, wines and beers.
So for the beer fan like myself, this means that more of Canada’s best beers will be appearing at 10th & Victoria! For me, this means that hopefully I don’t have to travel all the way to Winnipeg to pick up a one-off product by Phillips or Red Racer. With the single serve beer area getting more space, I’ve noticed a few new beers popping up already including Central City's Mayor Kolsch Ale, Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Lemon Chifon Crueller Ale (which is over $20 per 750mL bottle - don’t buy it unless if you like the taste of lemon throat lozenges) and Garún Icelandic Stout.

Iceland isn’t well known for their beer but they make one of the best stouts I’ve ever tasted - Lava Smoked Stout. Lava is a perfect example of all things Icelandic - it’s smokey, sweet, dark and mysterious yet welcoming. Unfortunately Lava Stout hasn’t been available in Manitoba for three years now. Garún Icelandic Stout may not be a Lava Smoked Stout, but according to sites like RateBeer.com where it scored ratings as high as 98/100, I believe Garún will likely be a good replacement for Lava.

I honestly don’t remember the last time I had a stout because it’s summer! Summer is for all things citrusy, light and fruity! Garún tops out at 11.5% ABV so this is one of the strongest beers available in Manitoba, but since it’s in a 330mL bottle, I don’t think people are going to get drunk on it as easily as if it was in a 650mL bottle. Garún pours a thick, black beer with a cola brown hue to it.
The head is creamy, thick, frothy and yellowish-brown - reminiscent of cookie dough. The aroma is sweet, caramelly with notes of raisins, chocolate brownies, hint of roasted coffee beans and a hint of molasses. The chocolate brownie aroma is enough to make me want to dive in to the beer ASAP! When sipping on this, the first thing I notice is that the flavours are overwhelming and pungent, which I find a bit of a surprise because the aroma was fairly light for an Imperial Stout, but considering it’s 11.5%, the booze had to pop out somewheres!
The flavour has rich notes of roasted coffee beans, a strong malt presence that gives it the taste of toffee and raisins. Very sweet and boozey, almost reminiscent of a Barley Wine, in fact - the sweetness made me gag because I didn’t expect it. There’s also hints of dark chocolate, molasses, vanilla and a creamy mouthfeel.

So, was this a good alternative to Lava Stout? Of course! It’s easily one of the better Imperial Stouts I’ve had in my day. It’s strong, sweet, chocolatey and good amount of roasted coffee goodness. While it may not be a smoked stout like Lava, this is in its own category. With Gimli being New Iceland, I would love to see more products from Garún makers Borg Brugghús available in Manitoba. You can find this for $4.98 per 330mL bottle at the 10th & Victoria Liquor Mart. 11.5% ABV
4.5/5 Pints