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February 5th, 2014 12:01 am WW Staff | Beer Guide

Beer Guide 2014: Nine of Our Favorite Ten Beers of 2014

10. Most Premium Russian Imperial Stout (Gigantic)

Asked about their goals in concocting Most Premium Russian Imperial Stout, the Gigantic guys can’t help themselves. 

“To impress the Foster-Powell triangle,” says brewmaster Van Havig, cracking up fellow brewer and co-owner Ben Love. “As soon as you put ‘Most Premium’ on something, all the Russians know it’s the best. ‘Will buy! Most premium beer!’” 

Never mind that the style is actually of British origin. In a beer scene lacking in big, bottled imperial stouts, Gigantic’s might be the czar. Imperial stouts have varied profiles, but Love and Havig knew immediately what they didn’t want to do.

“The bad ones are thin and hot,” Love says. That’s not an issue with Most Premium: Thick as chocolate milk and black as the Mariana Trench, it masks its 10 percent ABV in a complex, aromatic palette of flavors, intermingling touches of raisin and prune with deep caramel and nuts. It is dense and robust, not to mention dark—“like a Russian winter’s night,” adds Havig. 

It won’t last nearly as long, though. Gigantic’s lone mainstay is its well-regarded IPA, and the Southeast Portland brewery plans on keeping it that way. They’ll experiment with other imperial stout recipes, but once this limited release ends, Most Premium will go the way of Yakov Smirnoff. Says Havig, “Don’t hold your breath for this beer to come back.” MATTHEW SINGER.

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