Here is the first of the four tastings of the Breakfast Stout Riffs I brewed back in November. I though the plain portion would be a good place to start before moving onto the spinoffs: Canadian (Chocolate/Coffee/Maple), Dessert (Chocolate/Vanilla), and Mexican (Chocolate/Chili/Vanilla/Cinnamon). Oddly all of the beers ended up with too much carbonation (this may be a result of the 1/2 tsp of table sugar I added to each bottle instead of my usual technique of mixing a priming solution into the whole batch before bottling.)
Plain Breakfast Stout Riff
Smell – Sharp bitter chocolate, oddly resiny. Not a complex nose, but not unpleasant either.
Taste – Solid bitterness, very clean. The carbonation and roast enhance the hop bitterness, which tastes more assertive than 46 IBUs should in a 1.091 beer. The chocolate from the nose comes through nicely, along with some espresso. It is missing the dark fruit and/or caramel I was expecting the Crystal 120 would bring. Just a bit boring for an Imperial Stout, more in the English tradition.
Mouthfeel – The carbonation is strong enough that the beer foams a bit in my mouth when I take a sip, not right for a rich ponderous beer. Once it warms and I swirl out some off the carbonation, the body seems smoother and fuller. The whole batch ended up over-carbonated, not sure why.
Drinkability & Notes – Not a great beer on its own, but this recipe is intended to be a stage for a variety of other flavors. It may improve with some age, but I don't see this “plain” portion ever being a great beer.