We’re finally getting back into dark beer season, and I couldn’t be more excited. Cooler nights allow for darker, more alcohol forward beers that are gut warming and full of malty goodness. There is always a great variety available here in Birmingham, but there was one beer that I was able to find in Gulf Shores that I had been looking all over for whenever. Tallgrass Brewing Company is a brewery that is widely known for some of the country’s greatest and most unique beers. Big RICC, a Russian Imperial Stout with Coffee and Chocolate, is a beer that has been in the making for several years. Luckily, it finally reached shelves this October, and for anyone who is familiar with Tallgrass’ beers, it did not disappoint at all. Here are my thoughts:
I poured this beer from a 12oz can into a pint glass after the beer had chilled for a few days. It poured a jet-black color with a great medium brown head that dissipates slowly and leaves behind some great lacing on the glass. A lot of people make notes about how dark this beer actually is. I noticed that when I poured it, it seemed pretty thick; very similar to syrup. Some people went as far as to hold a flashlight up to the beer to attempt to see through it but with no avail. The aroma is a beautiful bouquet of nothing short of the strongest coffee and chocolate notes you’ve ever experienced from a beer. There are tons of coffee notes; I mean, super strong coffee notes, like stronger than coffee. There are some sweet, milk chocolate notes in the background, which is somewhat similar to other Tallgrass stout or porter beers. The beer has absolutely zero hop aromas, and by the same token, if there are supposed to be any roasted malts in the aroma, they mainly go unnoticed because of the coffee. That aside, the beer smells fantastic and I couldn’t get enough.
The beer’s taste was a melody of complex flavors that blended into a beautiful mouthful of exclamation. Up front, you’re bombarded with a strong roasted, rich coffee flavor that is not bitter at all. I’m almost positive the beer is brewed with cold brewed coffee because you get a great, strong coffee flavor, but without that added bitterness you get from regularly brewed coffee. Either that or the beer is aged for a while before it’s canned and distributed, but I’m almost positive it’s made with cold brew. About halfway through the sip, you can begin to pick up on those chocolate notes from the nose and they add a great sweetness to the back of the beer that builds on the already amazing body. After the chocolate flavors fade slightly, you start to pick up on an extreme booze flavor that ultimately takes over the whole mouth. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing by any means, because with the name Imperial Stout I expect there to be a good bit of alcohol with each sip. All of these aspects bring together everything that I would hope to have in a great Imperial Stout.
Mouthfeel is fantastic because the combination of carbonation and the body makes a fantastic pair. Carbonation isn’t as thin or flat as a lot of beers in the style, because it has a great, big mouthfeel that all great stouts have. It really lets you know that it’s there. It’s very thick, very velvety and very boozy. I love it. There’s nothing I can truly complain about other than the can isn’t a tall boy.
Overall, this is a excellent execution of a Russian Imperial Stout because of all of the components coming together to create an amazing beer. I wish that more Tallgrass beers made it to Birmingham so that I would have the opportunity to enjoy more of them, because this and the others I have had are all knockouts. They have a real knack for creating extremely flavorful beers that reach all bounds of what the beer should be and that’s something that as someone who has brewed before can have nothing but respect for. If you have the opportunity to pick up this or any other Tallgrass beer, I highly suggest doing so, so that you can experience this beautiful creation.

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