Dark Side of Cans: Monster Imperial Stouts in Aluminum

Dark Side of Cans: Monster Imperial Stouts in Aluminum, 4.8 out of 5 based on 2 ratings
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The Dark Side of Cans: Monster Imperial Stouts in Aluminum

I just got back from a business trip in Colorado and, among other things (more reviews to come), 2 cans of Oskar Blues Ten Fidy made it into my checked bag. I’ve had this beer plenty of times and it’s high on my list of Imperial Stouts. The canned aspect is just gravy, however it does point out the impressive evolution of cans in the past few decades.

While they used to be used only for the cheap adjunct lagers, the technology has made it to the point that even Jim Koch, a long time skeptic of aluminum, has started canning Sam Adams Boston Lager. In reality they’re a great vessel, no light intrusion to skunk the hops, no oxygen leakage, completely recyclable, the list goes on. Honestly the only real downside in my eyes is they can’t be reused for homebrew.

Dark Side of Cans: Monster Imperial Stouts in Aluminum

On the more local scene cans are quite popular. Of the breweries that package in the Treasure Valley, almost all sell at least some of their beers in cans. The majority are more normal brews, pales, porters, a couple IPAs, but Sockeye has started to release the Brewers’ Private Reserve series in cans. The current offerings are Hopnoxious Imperial IPA and Barrel Aged Seven Devils Imperial Stout. The latter caught my eye, I’ve never seen a barrel aged beer in a can so I figured it was worth a shot. Weighing in at 10.5%, the same ABV as Ten Fidy, it seemed fitting to do a side by side review.

Oskar Blues was the first US craft brewery to package exclusively in cans and they are quite proud of it. They give out can necklaces at festivals, hold an annual all can beer festival called Burning Can, and hold the record for the highest ABV beer ever canned, a “Triple Imperial Stout” called Twen Teny that weighs in at an impressive 20.1%. Only 41 cans ever made it out of the brewery, but still, nothing to scoff at.

Dark Side of Cans: Monster Imperial Stouts in Aluminum Dark Side of Cans: Monster Imperial Stouts in Aluminum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ten Fidy poured a thick and heavy pitch black into a Brew Dog Teku glass with a nice thick medium brown head. The high alcohol lends to some heavy lacing and the foam slowly dwindled down to nothing but a thin ring around the edge. The nose is heavy chocolate and coffee with hints of licorice. First sip reveals a thick creamy mouthfeel with flavors of bitter chocolate and heavy espresso. Caramel, dark fruits, and some slightly sweet lactose come through as it warms. Mild alcohol flavors, but well balanced for the high gravity.

Dark Side of Cans: Monster Imperial Stouts in AluminumDark Side of Cans: Monster Imperial Stouts in Aluminum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving over to the Seven Devils, it also poured pitch black and thick into a Firestone Walker Proprietors Reserve snifter with a slightly lighter colored head and a bit more lacing. The bubbles were definitely thicker and retained longer and the beer itself was more carbonated. Unsurprisingly it has a very boozy nose, borderline medicinal but still good. Not much else makes it into the aroma. This one has a fat round mouthfeel with strong alcohol warming from the bourbon. It’s sweeter and very bourbon forward with dark roasty malt flavors and some sweeter chocolate. Less bitter than the Ten Fidy, the alcohol burn continues through the finish with some very late dark fruit flavors. Not as balanced as the Oskar Blues but not objectionable.

Dark Side of Cans: Monster Imperial Stouts in AluminumDark Side of Cans: Monster Imperial Stouts in Aluminum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Price wise they’re actually quite comparable, the Ten Fidy ran about $15 for a 4 pack in Colorado and the Seven Devils was $4 per can, $13 per 4 pack in Idaho. Initially I had some trouble stomaching cans in the $4/each range, but comparing them to similar bombers, I can’t think of anything as good at $8. These are high ABV beers and are really pushing the upper limit of cans, so the price is appropriate.

Regarding which one I prefer, tough call. The Ten Fidy is a beer with pedigree from a large and well known brewery and it shows, it’s very balanced and very drinkable. The Seven Devils tastes a bit more rough around the edges, a bold attempt from a small local brewery that is a great step forward for the brewery and a very satisfying brew. I’ll certainly be buying more of each, though if forced to choose, I’d give a slight edge to the Ten Fidy. Coincidentally a bourbon barrel aged version of this beer is occasionally available and my lord is it tasty. If you can find that (only on tap to my knowledge), get yourself some, it doesn’t disappoint. If not, either of these will do just fine.
Skål.

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Rating: 4.8/5 (2 votes cast)

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