Name – Czar's P2 Imperial Stout
Brewer – William Worthington
Classification – Well, quite unsurprisingly, it's an imperial stout.
Strength – 8% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye – Elegantly terrifying.
On the nose – Spiced berries and licorice. Bizarrely understated, considering what comes next.
On the tongue – A masterwork. Possibly the most sublime demonstration of 'dark beer' craftsmanship and ingenuity.
On the subject – The story behind this beer is every bit as complex as its taste. Wearing Bass Brewery's diamond emblem, but carrying only the Worthington Brewery name, whilst actually being the work of Molson Coors – this is a reproduction of a beer which used to be shipped over from Burton On Trent to St. Petersburg for the boozy folk at the Imperial Court. Incidentally, the Bass diamond is Britain's second oldest trade mark, which was once widely used to identify the stronger ales brewed by this illustrious company. The very oldest British trade mark also happens to be a Bass Brewery logo, in the form of the far more commonly seen red triangle.
On the market – Well, firstly you'll need to remortgage your holiday villa in Sicily. These very rare beers are more than twice the price of an average 500ml bottled ale. So, once you've liquidated sufficient assets, go online at The Real Ale Store.
On the whole – 9.5/10
On the whole – 9.5/10
By the gods, this is good.
It's debatable whether a drink of such rarity, power and complexity should be guzzled at breakneck speed, but I might as well admit that I could not prevent myself from reaching back repeatedly and often throughout the first half-glassful, only slowing down at all in order to collect some thoughts for this post.
The reality is that this beer might be strong in terms of its alcohol content, but it also happens to be among the smoothest, the lightest and the most easy-drinking strong beers in the known universe. Quite how they have managed to unify such boundless complexity with such delicacy, subtlety and nuance is nothing short of bewildering.
But I've never been more happy to find myself in a muddle.
Perhaps a beer of such ludicrous splendour is the inevitable result when you know you are literally brewing for royalty, as the folk working on the original recipe were. But it has to be said that the guys and gals responsible for reproducing that original brew have shown equal skill and flair, with an end result that is monumentally impressive.
The kaleidoscope of flavours includes blackberries, black cherries, plums, raisins, dark chocolate cookies, licorice root, soft spices, roasted nuts, treacle toffee, molasses – with each of these playing at the absolute top of their game. These beautiful individual themes combine and entwine with the most majestic grace and fluency. It's a genuine taste journey, a ceremonious procession through the full sensory spectrum.
But the flavour of this treasure is only one aspect of its gloriousness. The surprising lightness of the body, with its firm, slick, velvety smoothness enhances the moreish appeal tremendously. And although 'these kinds' of beers tend to vary hardly at all in terms of appearance, this ale even manages to look superior, with its creamy ever-present head laying proudly atop like a some dozing polar bear floating on crude oil. I could gaze at it quite happily for hours if it weren't so damned delicious.
The aromas – darkly fruited, slightly spiced, and underpinned with smoky cocoa and licorice – are initially relatively delicate, but they intensify exponentially as the beer warms in the glass, becoming every bit as delicious as the flavour by the end.
It's just unceasingly enjoyable.
With many beer craft beer lovers wary of big companies running micro 'styled' operations, I'm sure there are bottles of this remaining on shelves, victims of silent consumer protest. Add to such misgivings the high cost of this beer, and there's all the more reason for it to be left unpurchased.
But one bottle of this was more than enough to convince me that this ale is in very good hands indeed at the present time.
If you have just under six pounds to spare and 'morale grounds' are your only obstacle, I recommend you put aside those concerns for a few moments and buy a P2.
A 'few moments' is all this beer will need to dispel your fears forever.