Mooi & Meedogenloos Imperial Stout-Quadrupel – ABV 10.2%

The complexity of the malts in this beer signifies a Quad; but the colour says ‘Stout’ – all the same, fruit, toffee and floral aromas are strong and welcome.

Look: It certainly starts out looking like an Imperial Stout, dark black with a nice brown head and good lacing.

Taste: There isn’t much in the way of aroma with this beer, but first impressions on tasting are of a rich dessert Stout but then you notice the higher level of carbonation and the complexity of the malts which introduce some Quad-like qualities.

Verdict: Is Mooi & Meedogenloos (Beautiful & Ruthless) a Stout-ish or is it really a Quadrupel-ish? Depending on the batch the label might say one thing or the other, but the beer is always somewhere between the two. Instead of deciding, we’re just going to sit back, enjoy the beer and contemplate the question.

Tip: You’ve got almost 5 years on the best before date with this beer, but we can’t help thinking that if you wanted to keep it for longer it would age beautifully.

Treacle Toffee Stout – ABV 10%

Indulgent yet drinkable, Steam Machine’s milk stout does exactly what it says on the keg: there are big, sweet molasses notes with a creamy, caramel finish.

Look: A brown-black pour with nice carbonation and a thin creamy tan head. Treacle Toffee is clearly an imperial milk stout – which is a good thing in my book.

Nose: Dark roast malts and bold dark chocolate come out all cylinders blazing before before a treacle sweetness follows up.

Taste: Sweet treacle and molasses, fruity and juicy hops, syrup and caramel with a fine velvety finish.

Verdict: Steam Machine’s husband and wife team Nick and Gulen have a brewing background of over ten years; science teacher Nick brings an academic approach to the magic of brewing to create a sweet, smooth, malty treat. Top of the class.

Imperial Export Strength Stout – ABV 10.5%

Rich and complex, the imperious Dark Star won gold in the Stout class in the London & South East Area section of the CAMRA Champion Beer Of Britain 2015.

Look: Deep ruby, bordering on jet black, on the pour with a small creamy brown head. The long maturation process makes the beer look dense and full-bodied, with a small to medium carbonation.

Nose: Rich aromas driven by coffee and darkly roasted malts, dark chocolate. Some tinges of molasses and oak as well forest fruits and berries.

Taste: Again focus on espresso coffee mixed with rich dark chocolate plus vanilla, rum and coconut, plus a boozy, treacly velvety mouthfeel those Magnum and East Kent hops, flaked barley and Crystal malts.

Verdict: Dark Star’s stout as imperious as the Death Star. Strong, complex and meant to be savoured.

Subluminal Imperial Stout – ABV 10%

This is just a boisterous, chewy imperial stout with bags of fruit, creamy chocolate and character,  Buxton and Stillwater Artisanal in Baltimore.

Look: Jet back with a small beige head, good amount of lacing and low carbonation.

Aroma: Chocolate and vanilla, creamy coffee plus dark fruits such as blackcurrants and raisins.

Taste: Intense complex layers of bittersweet hops, milk and dark chocolate and more rich sweet fruit. Rich and creamy mouthfeel, super-full-bodied.

Verdict: Another solid gold hit Buxton’s increasing line of stonking imperial stout collabs. Subluminal, yes, but sub-optimal? Goodness, no.

White Cell White Imperial Stout – ABV 9.7%

This collaboration between Time and Tide and Weird Beard is packed with Sorachi Ace hops, coffee and cocoa nibs for a full-bodied, toffee / mocha coffee finish.

Look: Yellow gold in colour and clear, with a foamy, white head and small levels of carbonation.

Aroma: Cocoa nibs and coffee lead the way with a mocha / milky latte sweetness backed up with biscuity breadiness and waves of toffee and caramel plus some light citrus twangs.

Taste: Full and chewy with more of that sweet milky coffee, biscuit and toffee. Good level of alcohol warmth with more toffee and caramel the cocoa nibs.

Verdict: Sticky, sweet and satisfying – like enjoying a latte and biscuit in one. This is a Cell we would happily be locked up in.

Flat White Breakfast Stout – ABV 7.4%

Surprisingly pale for a coffee stout, hence the ‘white’ in the name, this is dominated by coffee and hoppy bitterness with a medium body and malty mouthfeel.

Look: Golden-orange and slightly hazy.

Aroma: Packed with rich roast coffee and some subtle piney grassy hops.

Taste: Layers of zesty orange and bitter citrus notes with that espresso zing still prominent; some nice sweetness the malts towards the finish.

Verdict: A really unique coffee-driven stout that packs a powerful espresso punch while remaining a hoppy, light orange colour. It won’t leave you feeling flat, that’s for sure…

Black Oktober – ABV 9%

A beautifully balanced unfined Imperial Russian Stout with layers of chocolate sweetness, notes of spice, rich roasted malts and a bitter lingering finish.

Look: Opaque and deep black colour with brief but foamy beige head.

Aroma: Dark roasted malts with black coffee, chocolate and hints of spicy liquorice.

Taste: Malty, roasted taste with black coffee, more dark chocolate and liquorice, with some subtle bread and red fruit undertones. Pretty full-bodied with a great balance of sweetness and hoppy bitterness, joined on the palate with lingering bitterness to finish.

Verdict: A belting impy stout with loads of layers of flavour and long lingering bitterness. It’s an Oktober-fest in your mouth. Prost!

Sun & Moon Umami Imperial Stout – ABV 10%

Celestial collaboration with Tempest Brewing, this imperial stout is made with shitake mushrooms, miso and salted seaweed for an explosion of umami-flavour.

Look: Dark black with a light brown head.

Aroma: Roasted malt with notes of dry roasted peanuts.

Taste: Salty, sweet and bitter with the earthiness of the mushrooms, miso and seaweed.

Verdict: Imperial Stout x Oyster Sauce. In a really good way.

Sgt Nightvision – ABV 10.5%

This French oak-aged American Imperial Stout has a smoky sweet character and a roasted chocolate base, thanks to Peated, Maris Otter, Caramel and Cara malts.

Look: Clear dark black-brown colour with a foamy beige head. Soft carbonation and nice lasting lacing.

Aroma: Dark roasted and sweet malts, chocolate, caramel and a hint of dried fruits.

Taste: Sweet with more dark malt, caramel and chocolate, some tones of roasted malts and charcoal smokiness. Medium to full-bodied, lingering bitterness and some lasting boozy warmth.

Verdict: Copy that, Sergeant. Because we’d like another one, please.

Imperial Cafe Racer – ABV 8.5%

Collaboration with Devil’s Peak, amped up with Kenyan espresso and Bourbon vanilla Madgascar.

Look: Pours opaque black with a small beige head.

Aroma: Chocolate, coffee and vanilla.

Taste: Big on the roasted malt, with dark chocolate balanced out with sweet caramel and vanilla.

Verdict: Just the kind of rich dessert Stout we love; rich, complex and satisfyingly boozy. Curl up on the sofa and enjoy sipping this one.