TAKE A DEEP BREATH before reading aloud: a bomber-only monster of the Midwest (Hoppin’ Frog) joins forces with cult Danish islanders (Fanø Brygghus) to deliver their second collaboration brew (European Tour Series – 2 of 3), a 7.5% ABV Chocolate Rye Imperial Stout called Natasha Rocks America. Sound like a mouthful? So is the beer.
Natasha pours with an oily consistency and moderately tan thin head with sizeable bubbles. Its color is not quite as opaquely black as expected, rather more like loam, but the aroma still bursts with nearly all the trappings of the blackest stouts: dark chocolate (though the brew contains none), coffee, vanilla bean, some earthy rye spice, roasted malt, and a bit of smoke. It even implies some barrel qualities without actually having aged in one. Dry-hopping helps keep the nose from being cloying, but the hops’ overall impact is likely less than the brewers intended. No matter—there’s plenty else to consider even before taking a sip.
Unfortunately, all that decadence in the aroma seems to have distracted from the beer itself. The glut of aromas is manifested in the flavor, but due to lowish carbonation and a stuffed body they lack the robustness and definition of truly regal imperial stouts. That’s not to say the beer’s claim to richness is inaccurate; to the contrary, in fact. Natasha started at 20 Plato, but bottled at only 7.5% ABV the bulk of fermentable sugars remaining means a Plato of 7.5. It’s fit to burst, in other words, and if fully fermented might have brushed up against 10%. Double digit ABVs are hardly a guarantee of quality, but chances are that more time in the fermenter would have helped Natasha mature and distinguish its flavors, making it more of a beer and less of a sweet syrup. Still an indulgent adventure.
Served: 22 oz bottle