What is it about Russian Imperial Stouts that make them so appealing to me? It isn't just the high alcohol content, although that is probably a factor; more important to me is the fact that you simply can't drink a 9-10% ABV beer in a hurry*. They are never a ''one for the road" beer or a means of quickly slaking your thirst. No, drinking one of these Tsarist beauties suggests you are staying put for a while, enjoying a wholesome, fulsome ale, and hopefully some engaging company. Perhaps a fireplace.
They are a poor choice for a summer beer, but ideally suited to the long winter nights we experience here in Edmonton; we received a mere 7 hours and 38 minutes of daylight today, so a dark beer for the dark hours feels strangely appropriate.
As anticipated. Spider Bite Brewing's Boris the Spider pours a deep, dark brown, bordering on the silky black, with a thin edge of caramel coloured head. The nose can sense, more than smell, the high alcohol content of 10%, and the traditional notes of bitter chocolate and hints of burnt coffee are there as well.
It drinks just as silky smooth as it looks, with very little bite (spiders or otherwise) from either the alcohol or the darkly roasted malts that give the stout its characteristic colouring. A tremendously fulfilling mouthfeel, accompanied by deep richness, then the hints of bakers chocolate and coffee, followed by a tingly finish.
It was the late end to a long and full day when I finally got to sample Boris the Spider. It was well worth the wait, even if the glass, like his namesake from the song by The Who, has come to a sticky end far too early. My opinion is clouded by my lovefor the style, but like last year's Bolshevik Bastard, this is probably my favourite calendar beer thus far, and I will undoubtedly be searching the shelves of Sherbrooke for this spider after Christmas!
* Please note: this is not a dare. I'm simply saying that Russian Imperial Stouts are by no means a style designed for indiscriminate guzzling, and even though it may be physically possible, it is by no means advisable.