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Friday, August 29, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 72.0° F  Partly Cloudy
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Beer Here: Mr. Mephisto's Imperial Stout from Lake Louie Brewing
Mr. Mephisto's is a big, strong, robust and warm stout.
Credit:Robin Shepard

When Mr. Mephisto turns up you know its winter! The decisions about which big winter brews to try is a little tough this year because there just seem to be so many seasonal beers; there's almost a case of over-supply, if that is possible. But for those who like full-bodied, robust, malty beers, this is a great time of the year.

Mr. Mephisto's Imperial Stout with its thick, rich flavors is especially well suited for January and February. This beer from Lake Louie Brewing in Arena is one to drink slowly, in order to appreciate its assertive flavors and not get lost in the warmth of its high alcohol content.

What is it? Mr. Mephisto's Imperial Stout from Lake Louie Brewing

Style: The imperial stout is dark copper to black in color, very rich in malty aroma, and commonly offers a toffee-like or deep caramel flavor. Hoppy bitterness and even the roasted malt will give way to sweet malty tones. Some fruity esters are characteristics of this style of stout too. The beer can be quite strong, ranging from 7-9% ABV. The imperial stout is sometimes called "Russian Imperial Stout," a reference to the famous beer made by Thrale's Brewery in London that was exported to the Tsars of Russia at the time of Catherine the Great.

Background: Mr. Mesphisto's is a winter seasonal for Lake Louie Brewing that begins to appear in December. Brewery owner and brewmaster Tom Porter named the beer for the host of the horror-movie television program Lenny's Inferno that aired in Madison from the late '60s through the early '80s. Mr. Mephisto's trademark was his tall dark hat, stark white face and solid black goatee. The man who played the character during the last dozen years of its run, Dick Flanigan, has even been seen at the brewery in Arena sipping his namesake beer. Mr. Mephisto Imperial Stout is available in six-packs (~$12).

Tasting notes:

  • Aroma: Malty with hints of alcohol yet to come.
  • Appearance: Very dark with bronze highlights. A soft, brown head.
  • Texture: Full bodied and silky.
  • Taste: Lots of chocolate malt. Smooth and warm.
  • Finish/Aftertaste: Malty.

Glassware: The snifter allows for sipping and gentle warming of the stout, which will bring out a smooth silkiness and strong malty flavor.

Pairs well with: The dominant maltiness of the imperial stout will go well with venison and lamb. It'll also go nicely with oysters and clams. For a special treat, try a dark chocolate and cherry desert.

Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four).

The Consensus: B+ (very good) from Beer Advocate and an 88 from Rate Beer.

The Verdict: Mr. Mephisto's is a big, strong, robust and warm stout. Its chocolate and caramel flavor profile makes for an excellent smooth stout that offer great warmth. This beer will also age well. I tucked away a six-pack last year and opened it this past New Year's Day. It was even more wonderful -- with smooth, surprisingly moderately carbonated and with exceptional warmth. It's an excellent choice to sip by a fire on a cold night.

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