Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Posted by Bull E. Vard
The Russian Imperial Stout is a hearty 9.5% ABV and comes in 4 packs of 12 oz. bottles priced between $11-$12. I had one last week and found it to be a real departure from the normal substandard fare that Leinenkugels usually brings (Summer Shandy excepted). It had the taste you would expect from an RIS, roasted malts, chocolate, dark fruit, but was just too sweet for me. I like my stouts, with the exception of Left Hand Milk Stout, on the more bitter side. I'd much rather get a 4 pack of Great Divide Yeti, Old Rasputin or Dark Truth than Big Eddy.
I find the same thing with Sam Adams' more experimental brews that I found with the Big Eddy. They both play to the masses. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, your mileage may vary. Sam Adams and Leinenkugel are nationwide, very recognizable brands. They're not meant to be challenge brands. Sam Adams is definitely a step or two above Leinenkugel in terms of quality, but they're both going for the same thing, to be the beer between BMC and more challenging local beer. Many breweries play in this space, Boulevard, New Belgium, Summit, etc., but Sam Adams and Leinenkugel are the leaders in distribution. The fact that Leinenkugel is brewing Big Eddy signals that the big companies care about the beer geeks and want credibility with them. The Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout was a miss for me, but I appreciate the effort, and look forward to more in this vein.
Big Eddy should be available on both sides of the state line today. I don't anticipate there being a huge demand for it, but there's not a huge amount of it in town either. If you see some, pick up a quad (I need a fun word like sixer for the 4 packs, I choose quad) and give it a shot, maybe you like your stout sticky sweet or maybe you don't think much of my opinion, whatever.
On a side note, with all of these 4 packs becoming prevalent, is there a liquor store that does mixed 4 packs? There's probably about 30 different beers in town being packaged in 4 packs, it seems to me that the consumer that would buy mixed sixers would love to buy mixed quads as well.
Disclosure: I received a bottle of Big Eddy free (not really free since I had to drive to hell and back to get it) from a source interested in selling more Big Eddy. This did not affect my feelings toward Big Eddy, but you can be the judge of that.