01 March 2009

John By Imperial Stout

While browsing the LCBO yesterday, I came across another product from the Scotch Irish Brewing Company. Those of you who regularly follow this blog will recognize them as the not-do-fine folks that brought us the worst beverage ever reviewed on this site: the horrendous Corporal's Bitter Brown Ale. A quick look at the label found John By described as:

Beginning in November we make only 5 batches of our Imperial Stout. It is brewed in the tradition of the stouts produced in the British Isles during the 18th and 19th centuries that were shipped to Imperial Russia. John By is so deep brown in colour it appears to be black. The powerful malt flavour is balanced by its alcohol content. Just the thing to ward off the cold of a Canadian winter.

Further reading found this stout also has a devastating 6.7% abv. Immediately sold, I purchased the bottle expecting an excellent example of brewing ineptitude and a possible rival for the crown of Worst Beverage Reviewed on this site.

With Michelle out of town, Brian was homebound and asked me to come over for a few ales. Upon arriving, I showed him my latest purchase, to which he gave a hearty "no!" Apparently, he could still taste the last sampling we had from this particular brewery. We put the John By in the freezer to chill while we drank a few Alexander Keith's IPA. Once the John By had chilled to an acceptable temperature, Brian cracked it and poured a sample in his glass. I heard him sigh in dismay as he poured the thick, black liquid into his glass. I had a hard time understanding how they arrived at the colour brown, as John By Imperial Stout is blacker than Guinness. The brew gave no discernable scent and resembled a glass of black industrial sludge. Throwing our reservations aside (and likely just wanting to get this over with as quickly as possible) we drank the thick, dark brew.

Surprisingly, John By Imperial Stout is not that bad at all. It has a thick, malty profile associated with all stouts, but it wasn't any worse tasting. The 6.7% abv was a little harsh, but as the label promised, it was balanced by the strong malt flavour. It finished well with slightly nutty aftertaste. Brian was actually disappointed that this wasn't another brewing disaster, and stated that despite not being a fan of many stouts, this one wasn't really that bad. I personally would have drank another one had it been available to see if the taste would grow on me after another glass. This one is heartily recommended to any fan of strong porter or stout beer.

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