I put a bottle of Samuel Smith Imperial Stout back on the shelf to try this beer out, so it better be good. My first sniff from the bottle tells me that this beer has promise. Not much head to speak of as I pour it into a mini pint glass. I smell something interesting as I take another whiff from the glass this time. At this time, I can't tell whether it is an interesting aroma or some of the 10.8% abv. Wowzers! I used to be a notorious sleepwalker, so I am hoping that this beer's name "Night Tripper" doesn't have me walking the halls tonight. And the bottle features label art depicting a court jester, which is appropriate that an "imperial" stout should have a royal court jester, I just hope it doesn't have me acting the fool either.
This beer is part of the "High Gravity" series from New Holland. I need to get El Presidente to sit down for some explanatory videos for some the beer words and phrases we (and brewers) use on this site, but until that happens, here is what Wikipedia says about high gravity beers:
High gravity beer refers to specialty craft beers with an increased specific gravity. A beer with an original gravity 1.070 is generally considered to be high.
High alcohol content is not the intended consequence of high gravity beer, however, the concentration of sugar and flavor-enhancing ingredients at the beginning of the brewing process results in a brew with a higher percentage of alcohol compared to other beers.
High gravity beers are traditional in Europe, but only a small percentage of microbreweries in the United States produce them. They are more expensive than mass-produced beer. They are also more flavorful, intended to be sipped and savored, and are often paired with foods. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_gravity_beer)
This certainly goes with what New Holland prints on their label, saying, "An abundance of roasted malts and flaked barley create rich, roasty stout with deeply intense, lush flavors. Layered, nuanced tones invite intrigue amd reward a curious palate. Pairings: dark chocolate, stinky cheese, cayenne." I am going to give New Holland the benefit of the doubt with the aroma I questioned before. I am smelling something, and it is not your typical roasted stout aroma, and it's not the alcohol either. It is something nuanced I would say. I would like to give mad props to New Holland for including the %abv and food pairings right on the bottle. I truly wish every brewer did that.
To go back to my tasting, I am enjoying smelling and re-smelling this beer. It's definitely not the alcohol I smell, because that would go away. This is an interesting flavor aroma. I like it. There is some roasty-ness here as well, but not tons. This beer is smooth and silky, though. I am making a second pour into my glass now, and I am hoping that the beer in the bottle has had a chance to breathe and give me a slightly different and nuanced taste. This is a tasty imperial stout. I think I would put Samuel Smith above it, but I would have to taste beers like Founders Imperial Stout again to see how it compares. Unfortunately, I am going to compare this to PBC's Shackamaximum. Not the greates job dealing with the high % abv, lacking in the carbonation/head department, and not as roasty/toasty as I like (again, this is my opinion. Chime in to disagree if you like). So, this won't score high in representation or style or presonal preference. Accessibility? Meh, it won't be high either. Sorry, this won't do well unless I was scoring get-a-buzz-quick. A decent imperial stout but there are plenty of better ones out there. Also, check out our other IMPERIAL STOUT reviews.
New Holland Night Tripper Imperial Stout:
Total Score: 2.95 Flags
Here are some other New Holland beers for you to check out!