Sometimes a unique spin on a beer is refreshing. Few people would call Podge Belgian Imperial Stout a classic rendition of the style. Normally, I expect a heavy, thick, sweeter or darker version when I hear the words Imperial Stout. But it’s not a necessary quality. Let’s not confuse things; Podge is certainly some of those things but not to the degree that others are. It also has some unique factors that are firmly Belgian. The bottle I drank was 6 years-old at the time, so it had obviously changed during its aging. That being said, I would love if someone would give back some input about a fresh bottle. Here goes.
The Pour: Podge was in a thick, stubby Belgian style bottle. It really is a little strange to see an Imperial Stout in a Belgian bottle. Anyway, the pour was dark but still fairly light for an Imperial Stout. At this point in the beer’s six year life, the carbonation was not (I’m sure) what it once was, so it had a small amount of head to show.
The Nose: Wine-like notes and sweet Belgian candy sugar tones were in the front of this beer. It had a very juicy and fruit quality, which seemed to point toward a slight acidic sourness. What would an Imperial Stout be without coffee or chocolate tones? Podge had both of these qualities.
The Taste: Podge has undergone a complex process. There is something like 4 yeast strains used at separate points and for distinct reasons. I know that the beer got a fairly full amount of fermentation from these yeast strains. In fact, the 10.5% ABV made its presence felt in the mouth. The vinous (wine-like) red wine touches were pronounced. The juicy fruits were almost currant-like. Here is the real point of departure for Podge: it was slightly tart and acidic like a mild sour ale, which I’m not too accustomed to with Imperial Stouts. Plenty of deep roast could be found on the end. Chocolate and coffee were also notable tastes.
Overall, I have to rate this beer well. I personally could have used a little more malt and less alcohol burn. However, this is a unique and well done version of an Imperial Stout. Thin for some, perhaps, but that is what Belgian candy sugar does. Basing one’s review of this beer along the lines of what Dark Lord or some other big Russian Imperial Stout is will yield a bad review for many. In fact, I saw it called a “Russian” Imperial Stout. Did the label say that’s what it was? It is a strong big stout, so that is enough for some people to name it as such.
Some people really rail against Podge. However, taking the beer for its place of origin, brewing philosophy, and interpretive value will yield a different attitude. I read a review where a guy called this beer “insultingly thin,” as though they had made the beer for him and he was a magnate. He rated it a D-… and added off with their heads (the head thing is a joke). However, he obviously expected something that the beer was not. Being open to trying a less than traditional stout might really help frame the discussion on this one.
Among other Belgian Style beers: