Sunday, November 24, 2013

Left Hand Wake Up Dead Nitro Russian Imperial Stout review

Left Hand Wake Up Dead Nitro Russian Imperial StoutWonder what all the hype is about Nitro? Left Hand Brewing Company of Longmont, Colorado has embraced nitrogen in three of it's beers and has come up with a way to infuse it right into a standard 12oz beer bottle. This brew is their new (2013) Left Hand Wake Up Dead Nitro Russian Imperial Stout. It comes in a handy 4-pack and can be found wherever Left Hand beers are sold.

About two years ago, Left Hand Brewing Company came out with Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout and I was an instant fan. I was already familiar with their regular Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout. With the addition of Nitrogen right in the bottle (a patented process they have), Left Hand brings the taste of a nitrogen tap into your home without the need for expensive equipment.

From what I understand, the recipe for the Nitro version was basically the same as their regular version. The beer weighs in at 10.2% ABV and 45 IBUs and a hefty 306 calories. It uses Pale 2-row, Munich, Crystal, Chocolate, Roasted Barley and Flaked Oats in the grain mix. It's generously bittered with Magnum and US Goldings hops. With the addition of Nitrogen, this beer takes on an entirely new characteristic worth noting. Let's dive into this beer shall we?

Appearance: The bottle cap told me to "Keep Cold * Pour Hard", so that's exactly what I did. I chose a standard 16oz pint glass, popped the cap and turned the bottle completely upside down and let it pour hard into the glass. I've found no matter how hard you pour into a 16oz glass, the foam and beer will stay in the glass without foaming over. The nitrogen in this beer caused a spectacular cascading sheeting effect. Just watching the layers of bubbles dancing around was worth the price for this beer. When the cascading effect died down, the brew was left with a perfect 1.5 inch creamy and frothy tan head that stuck around for the entire tasting. The beer poured black as night, as expected. As I drank this down the lacing from this beer clung tightly to the side of the glass. Visually, this was an amazing beer to behold.

Aroma: The downside of using a standard pint glass for this beer was that I lost a lot of the aroma capturing capability that other glasses (like a snifter) can help bring out. I let the beer sit out for several minutes in order to help bring out the full aroma. If you try to get the aroma when it's still cold you end up missing a lot. Once warmed a bit, I could pick up a lot of roasted malts, some chocolate, licorice, coffee and perhaps some dark fruit in the nose. The nitrogen didn't add anything to the aroma however. The smell of this beer was very inviting, so already, visually and aromatically, this beer had a lot going for it already.

Left Hand Nitro beersTaste: The first thing that hit my mouth was the cream smooth froth at the top of the glass. Blending the foam and the beer gave this beer a great mouthfeel - creamy and smooth. The brew had a pleasant roasty taste with a noticeable kick. Definitely picked up much of the same flavors as I detected in the aroma. Some chocolate, dark licorice, molasses with a twang, a roast like coffee and a hint of sweetness. This beer was slightly dry and left a nice coating on my tongue. The flavor palette with this Nitro Russian Imperial Stout was huge.

I liked the taste of this beer even better than their normal Wake Up Dead and it's because of what the perceived difference with the nitro was. While the nitro did nothing for the taste, it did change the mouthfeel considerable and that makes a definite difference.

Overall: I absolutely love what nitrogen does for a beer like this. Just to watch it in the glass, the constant thick, creamy head and smooth texture can't be beat. This beer definitely had some alcohol heat in it. It's best to slow sip this beer. Let it warm up and you'll get the full experience and aroma. I was impressed with this beer and will definitely enjoy having Wake Up Dead Nitro again. The cream head lasted all the way to the very end and still had some left in the glass. Now if only they would barrel age this beer it would be even better!

Disclosure: I paid full retail price for this beer at my local liquor store.

Related articles:
- Left Hand unveils two more Nitro beers.
- Top Imperial Stout that you must try.
- Left Hand releases Smokejumper Imperial Porter.
- Left Hand 400 Pound Monkey IPA review.

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