Some Beers You Just Have to Order
A Review of Lewis Black Imperial Stout by Top of the Hill Brewery
Posted on 2/21/2013 by Chops
                   
Great
There are some beers you just have to order. Now I'm not talking about when you come across your favorite style, or make nice on a friend's recommendation, or even find a draft special of your favorite local brew. Sometimes you come across a beer that you have to order with no actual analysis. I had one such moment the other day when I was hanging out at the Top of the Hill brewpub in Chapel Hill, NC. I was scanning their beer menu when a brew jumped right off the page at me: the Lewis Black Imperial Stout. I couldn't help but chuckle as my favorite Lewis Black bits started popping into my head. I'm a really big fan of Lewis and his hysterical comedy, so this was a total no-brainer. A few moments later I received my nectar. And much to my surprised delight, they were serving it on nitro. Day, thy just peaked.

In the glass, this beer has a jet black coloration. Resting on top is that glorious creamy light tan head, compliments of the nitrogen. The presentation was fantastic, I received it in a stumpy snifter which allowed me to perfectly watch the separation. Seriously, check out that picture and try not to drool. It looks like the beer equivalent of an Oreo cookie. On the nose, I found general notes of roasted malt, coffee and dark chocolate, none of which were prominent. The aroma was somewhat muted, which is not uncommon for nitro brews (hard to muscle through that thick creamy top layer). The core notes were present, which is all I needed to find. Nothing left to do but dive in for that first taste.

It's not every day that you find an imperial stout that is a creamy smooth easy drinker. Course, we can thank the nitro for a lot of that. But, the roasted malty character is quite accessible, no chalkiness or grittiness. The result is a session worthy big stout, which I'm sure has snuck up on many unsuspecting UNC students. The body is a tad thin for the style, but you don't really mind. The overall taste is a sweet mishmash of roasted malt and dark chocolates. The mix is complimented by notes of vanilla, caramel and liquorice. The beer exits cleanly with a mildly bitter roasted aftertaste.

Overall, the Lewis Black Imperial Stout is a savory brew with a welcoming personality. It is very easy to grasp and equally easy to drink, which is why I can recommend it to any and all beer fans. Seasoned beer geeks will find it to be a rewarding session brew (you heard that right, a session imperial). I'm sure many novices have been wowed by this beer, provided that they exercised some self control in discovering it. It nicely showcases the best flavors of big stouts without the typical aggression of big stouts. As a result, this beer is quite dangerous, so beginners beware.

In closing, I can think of no better send off than by sharing a classic Lewis Black bit, who by the way maintains a residence in Chapel Hill, NC. Maybe one day I will see him at the Top of the Hill brewpub enjoying a frost glass of... himself. Cheers and enjoy!

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Lewis Black Imperial Stout by Top of the Hill Brewery
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