Leinenkugel Brewing – Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout

From TBR Images

Let me once again start a review with a disclaimer. 

I am Leinie fan!  Or, at least I was many years ago.  So, I am predisposed to try and like this beer even though I have become a beer snob and macro-hater in my old age.  (Miller Brewing has an ownership stake and handles distribution for this brewery)

Even when I had my nose stuck so far in the stratosphere that I could not see any of their beers in my fridge over the past few years…  I still had respect and love for the Jacob Lienenkugel brand.  This would come from the fond memories of drinking Lienies back in the late 80’s…  Then rediscovering them in the late 90’s when they started their foray’s into a niche beer market.

In the past I have credited Leinenkugel with starting my love for craft beer (I’m sure Greg S will run with that if he reads this).  They were my “gateway” brewery.  14 years ago (totally guessing… But I am sure I am close!) Leinenkugel came out with Honey Weis.  That beer would become a staple at the house.  Soon enough, I was trying their other beers.  Picking up their “Leinie Lodge” and “Tackle-box” samplers at Sam’s club was starting to expand my consciousness of beer.   Beer doesn’t have to be yellow?

Not long after that I began running into other local brews at UFS in Peoria.  In no-time I was branching off onto Schlafly Pilsner and Wheat Ales.   After trying the Leinies Big Bock, I started trying some porters and stouts from other local guys, like Goose Island.  In college I had had a bad experience with a room temperature bottle of Guinness Extra Stout.  I was pretty sure that dark beers were not for me.  Not so.  I soon found that this one bad experience was a fluke, and that some beers at some moments just don’t work.

Today I have a pretty good grip on most styles of beer.  I have moved on to all kinds of European beer geekery.   I am enamored with the American Craft Beer movement.  I am pretty much a certified beer geek to everyone who knows me.  Its been a long time since a Leinie was in my fridge.

In recent years, I have read about the brewery trying its hand at “big” beers.  I think they started these “Big” beers with an IPA???  Recently in the Newsletter, I had read about the Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout.  To my knowledge… We have not been able to get either of these beers in Downstate Illinois.  So, when I saw a 4 pack of Big Eddy at a store in Chicago 2 weeks ago.  I had to buy it! 

Now, on with the review.

This is shaping up to be a big beer.  Alcohol is rated over 9%ABV.  Thats pretty strong for a brewing operation not known for this type of style.  It initially gets me worried.  Maybe the brewmaster is going to try for something overboard and will have an “epic fail”.  If that happens…  I will have sacrificed 10 bucks for 4 beers based solely on the brewery’s reputation.  Not that that doesn’t happen more often than I care to admit!

I love when you pour a beer… And the head comes up the same color as the beer.  This beer is dark!  And the head comes up like some kind of chocolate pancake.  It looks marvelous.  THAT IS A GOOD SIGN!

I didn’t get a whole lot of aroma initially.  The beer was colder than it probably should have been.  But, then again, the original angle on this style states they were made with lots of alcohol in order to avoid freezing temps in the Russian shipping lanes.  So, you have to assume that this beer should be served pretty cold?  After letting it sit and really taking my nose down the glass… I start to get those chocolatey, roasty, coffee notes that I am looking for.  ANOTHER GOOD SIGN!

My first impression of taste is a bit mixed.  I get plenty of alcohol on the tongue.   And certainly plenty of warming when swallowing it down.  But, you know, with this style…  I don’t recall many Russian Imperials that were not the same way.  The body is not as thick as I would expect.  But it holds up well.  Its not thin by any means. 

My nose has led me correctly.  Those chocolate and coffee notes are there in the flavor.   The beer drinks better as it gets a little warmer in my glass.  I will get lots of warming, but I am enjoying that on a cold December eve.  It does take away slightly from the tastes I am seeking out in the beer.  Your tongue can get lost soaking up that much booze!

Its very nice, and I can tell you that this is a pleasant surprise that holds up to expectations.  Its a big full bodied beer… It hits the spot if you are looking for a big dark beer.  Its priced reasonably for a beer in this category.  It all around pretty good. 

I am not going to go out and state that its the best in this style.  I will save that for something that really takes me back with some flavor or taste that makes me go “Wow”.  But, for what this is, and where its coming from.  I say good job!

Thanks for giving me a reason to throw back another Leinie!  I am so glad to see the brewery branching out and to not be content resting on the efforts of their promo people hocking Sunset Wheat (Crunchberry beer).  This beer shows me that Leinie will have many more years helping others grow their taste-buds for new flavorful beers. 

For me personally.   Had I not been fond of the Leinie regular lager and all the other seasonal offerings…  Not to mention their marvelous quarterly newsletter…  I might still have a fridge full of Bud Lite. 

Looking forward to the next BIG Leinie that comes along!

TBR Special Edition: Holiday with the Hoopmaster

 Just in time for the Holidays!  The Homeless Hoopmaster revisits Pekin Beer Report Studio for a friendly visit that soon turns to trying to find a decent beer from Kentucky.  Sorry Kentucky if you are reading this… But the examples of beer on the show did not serve the state well!  Which is sad, we had high hopes for the BBC brews after having some good special editions beers in years past.  But, then again, with bad beers, come lots of non-beer conversations.  Notably…  CHUD is very upset about current TSA screening processes.  So, if you want some timely conspiracy talk mixed with your beercast…  Tune in!

Segue city!!!  The longer is goes…  The more abrupt this interruptions!  Hoops has mad conversation skills!

Side note:  Hoops keeps grinding on the table with his beer!  Sorry for the pounding you hear all over the show.  Next time he gets a boom mic!  Groucho, the producer should have caught that while recording…  But Hoops is an energy that is hard to contain!

Beers on this show: Pabst Blue Ribbon, Twang Beer Salt, Bluegrass Brewing Company Amber Ale, Alltech Lexington Brewing Company’s Kentucky Ale, Bourbon Kentucky Ale, O’Fallon Wee Heavy, Shorts Huma-Lupa-Licious, Arbor Brewing Sacred Cow IPA, BBC American Pale Ale

On the show:

  • Twang!  www.twang.com
  • The Pride of Peoria burns to the ground… and Hoops was there to see it!
  • Shakes the Clown
  • What is the value of the salt in beer?   Redneck Corona?
  • Neanderthal children.
  • The “Pitch Bucket” returns!  Stolen from www.goodbeershow.com
  • The Twang settles!
  • Check out the new www.thebeerreport.com!  Beer and Music reviews from CHUD!
  • Louisville.
  • CHUD:  Music boundaries are gone.
  • Kids cant get away with anything with social networks following them around!
  • CHUD’s TSA rant gets sidetracked.
  • Muffin beer gets dumped!
  • Rapiscan rant gets started again by CHUD.  (Sure to get us on some kind of government list)
  • Tranny man-face beer!
  • Aging a growler
  • Ferris Bueller tangent.
  • Hoops guilt’s CHUD hard about not being invited to the Wedding.
  • Shout outs for having awesome 3 Floyds and O’Fallon Beer at the Wedding.
  • CHUD requests that O’Fallon add Chinook Hops to all 5 Day IPA’s.  As a matter of fact…  He challenges O’Fallon to do a special batch and call it “CHUD Sauce”
  • http://ofallonbrewery.com/
  • Contamination of the “Pitch Bucket”! 
  • CHUD informs us on Deer eating birds.
  • Confessions of the Hoopmaster: Pissing on the floor???
  • Never had a bad Michigan beer!  Groucho will have a Double-wide in the UP!
  • Da Yoopers!?!?  Tirty Point Buck?
  • Confessions of the Hoopmaster:  Worried that CHUD may have soiled his girlfriend.
  • Confessions of the Hoopmaster:  Rooming with co-workers at conferences.
  • Sharper Image.
  • A Bad beer from Michigan???  Sacred Cow is infected???  All bottles foaming and taste terrible!
  • Hoops pallette has been more compromised than this Arbor Brew beer.
  • Donovan McNabb beer? 
  • Holiday Show???  Why now?  LOST DUCK Brewing in Fort Madison IA.
  • Hoops on Facebook?
  • Kentucky blowout beer show???
  • Drinking the “Pitch”.  Band Ade taste?
  • Merry Christmas, don’t fly, go to Arkansas with Hoops, save the seals!
  • Tirty Point Buck…  Da Yoopers!

O’Fallon Wee Heavy bought at Friar Tuck in Peoria IL.  Alltech beers bought at the World Equestrian games in Lexington Kentucky.  Michigan beers bought a little joint between St. Joseph and New Buffalo Michigan in August.

Da Yoopers were shamelessly ripped off… But we cut the song down.  Seek them out!  They sing such classics as : “The Bears Still Suck” and “2nd Week of Deercamp”! 

Listen here!  http://traffic.libsyn.com/thebeerreport/TBR_Special_Edition_-_Hoopmasters_Ho.mp3