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!

2 thoughts on “Leinenkugel Brewing – Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout”

  1. All I have to say IS UMMMMMY in my tummmmy!!!! I found my best friend all over again Thank you. Please for the love of GOD do not stop making this awesome handsome beer. Did you have to get the hops from out of the country? If so that suck cuz their is a shortage of fine hops that would make the higher quality beer more expensive to make! I want more 4 packs please….

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