Brew Blog: Jester King Black Metal Imperial Stout

I had meant to drink something lighter. The day had started out a little bit muggy, and I was bringing home dumplings for dinner. Something fruity, perhaps with a bit of citrus, was in the offing. Then, the rain came. Lord knows we needed it. Still do, actually.

As I slogged the half-mile from my office to my car, my shoes rapidly filling with water, I was not so enthusiastic about the downpour. I, in fact, chose that moment to curse the heavens for opening upon me, my company for being too cheap to pay for parking nearby, and my lack of umbrella-bearing foresight despite the weather forecast.

By the time I got home, I was soaked to the bone and in a rather unpleasant mood. I could have shrugged it off, changed clothes, and gone about my evening. Instead, I decided to wallow in it. I sat dripping on the couch and opened a bottle of Jester King Black Metal Stout (it spat scornfully as I opened it), allowing its darkness to wash over me.

As I poured the pitch black contents into a goblet, bitter chocolate and deeply burnt malt assaulted my senses. I steeled myself for a beer as dark and bottomless as the oubliette into which my soul had crawled, disgusted with the mean trappings of this pitiful existence. I took a sip, let the black liquid sit in my mouth for a minute, then swallowed it into the pit of my being.

It was disarmingly mild. My mood shifted. "If this, the most vicious stout ever dredged from the tortured minds of craft brewing, this 'cruel and punishing beer fermented by the sheer force of its awesome will,' can raise the veil of darkness, surely I can overcome my waterlogged malaise," I thought.

I took another sip. The darkness is there, but on top of it is a surprisingly light fruitiness, sweet with hints of vanilla. Dark cherries, perhaps, and chocolate again. This time, though, it's milk chocolate, mild and creamy. The darkness remains, just under the surface. Deeply roasted coffee, almost burnt and ashy, come in through the aftertaste.

There's a boozy finish, reminding you that this beer is serious business. Life is not all smiles and sunshine, and we have drinking to do. Then the spices kick in as the beer warms, and it's like some sort of boozy-spiced fruitcake around the fire on Christmas morning.

In the end, it was the perfect beer for a post-soaking session. It had enough blackness to allow me to wallow for a bit, enough booziness to make me feel warmed, and enough disarming lightness to bring me around again. I did, however, take seriously the admonition that this beer is to be consumed while listening to black metal. This, I feel, was the perfect accompaniment:

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Nicholas L. Hall is a husband and father who earns his keep playing a video game that controls the U.S. power grid. He also writes for the Houston Press about food, booze and music, in an attempt to keep the demons at bay. When he's not busy keeping your lights on, he can usually be found making various messes in the kitchen, with apologies to his wife.
Contact: Nicholas L. Hall