Normally, the opening statement of one of my beer reviews barely touches on the beer itself. The meat-and-potatoes of the tasting notes will come soon enough. I'd rather tantalize you with a witty amuse bouche to get the literal and metaphorical juices flowing. I'm also kind of a tease and totally get off on you wanting that next paragraph so bad you can barely take it. But not today. I don't even want the first block of text to draw to a close without making sure all in eyeshot know that the Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout from New English Brewing Co. is sofa king good.
The ZCCIS’ aroma is awash with cold brewed coffee and dark chocolate, as smooth as it is sweet. It has a remarkable heft to it that even clings to the spent bottle days later. That's right, I'm hanging on to the bottle like a lovesick teen clinging to a long dessicated corsage from winter formal. That’s how good it smelled.
The flavor of ZCCIS delivers on the promises made by the aroma in a big way. Rich, full-bodied notes of dark chocolate-covered espresso beans lead the charge, slowly being replaced with a warming and earthy finish. The smoothness of this stout borders on luxurious, barely hinting at the 9.3-percent-ABV payload it delivers. And while it's phenomenal on its own, anyone who tries it without a spoonful of Ben & Jerry's Karamel Sutra at the ready is denying themselves a one-way ticket to the Pleasure Dome.
While this stout certainly favors succulence over balance, its core flavors come through with such confidence and authority, I’m not inclined to nitpick. I haven't been this impressed with a stout at this price point since the Stone Brewing Espresso Imperial Russian Stout, and I gushed over that one plenty. This beer is, at a minimum, worth a special trip to the bottle shop.