Van Steenberge make some ferociously strong and aggressive beers, and at first glance you would expect this to be another in their well-established stable of beer. My guesses for GD Imperial Stout before tasting it would be an alcohol soaked, aggressively roasted, and/or perhaps syrupy sweet affair – it isn’t really any of those things.
The beer is surprisingly carbonated for this ABV, and as a result it produces a huge, pitted, mocha head in the GD glass. The aroma is of a sweet, lightly licorice note. I served this a little warmer than I often do with similar beers and I think some of the nose reflects that.
The tastes move mostly in line with the nose. The beer is surprisingly drinkable with a sweet – but not overly sweet – thread running through the whole beer. Light licorice is there, and it finishes with a very gentle, bitter flourish. There’s a little aniseed in there too.
This beer is absolutely NOT a Belgian brewed version of an American Imperial Stout, and to be fair there really isn’t a reason why someone should think that, but comparisons are somewhat inevitable I feel. The body is very light for the style, and the sweetness, whilst although present, really doesn’t hang around the beer in any oppressive manner. The 12% is also absolutely nowhere to be seen. Is the beer boozy? Sure, but its taste and overall drinkability belies the ABV.
Belgian Stouts are an odd beast, as are Belgian IPAs; there’s nothing quite like either, and this is a really good example of beer that defies an easy description. Highly drinkable (surprisingly so), and a very interesting beer.