Smells Like Bean Spirit was a great success for the folks at Mikerphone Brewing, so they’ve followed it up with Imperial Smells Like Bean Spirit—a much heavier, boozier variant of the original. Is it also tastier? Well, we’re going to find out today! Imperial Smells Like Bean Spirit is an imperial coffee-infused breakfast stout, brewed with heavy doses of Vermont maple syrup and a Sumatra Mandehling, roasted by the fine folks at Tugboat Coffee.
The coffee was grown in the Karo Highlands of Sumatra at an elevation of about 1350 meters above sea level. Unlike most coffee-infused beers on the market these days, this one wasn’t infused with a cold brewed coffee; rather it was dry-hopped with the ground coffee after the beer finished fermenting
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping Imperial Smells Like Bean Spirit Batch #4, from Mikerphone Brewing in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Karo Highlands, Sumatra, Indonesia
producer: smallholder farmers
elevation: 1200 – 1550 meters above sea level
style: Imperial Breakfast Stout
Smells Like Bean Spirit pours a deep, dark, obsidian black and I can tell, just from the pour, that the beer is going to be thick and viscous because it pours out of the bottle like motor oil. There’s no foam head while the beer is pouring but, once it settles, a two-finger thick mocha head quickly forms; excellent retention and bits of lacing.
The aroma, well—what else can be said? It smells like bean spirit… Actually, the aroma is super intense and packed with big, bawdy, boozy scents of maple syrup, roasty chocolate malt, vanilla wafer, black cherry, and raisin.
As I take my first few sips from the tulip, my tongue is absolutely coated by this thick, chewy, viscous, intensely full-bodied beer. The mouthfeel is heavily syrupy and sticky. Flavor is perfectly balanced rich maple syrup sweetness that is ever present, milk chocolate, coffee being there but not overpowering, light cocoa powder, and a mild earthy bitterness on the finish. As the beer warms, the flavor the coffee component imparts becomes even more pronounced. This is a boozy beer, and it features a boozy burn, but lightly so.
WOW. Mikerphone Brewing absolutely rocked my socks off with Imperial Smells Like Bean Spirit. This beer took my entire palate by storm and, well… I guess it made me smile. This beer was so thick, heavy, chewy, and boozy… More importantly, it was so, so tasty. Loads of sweetness thanks to flavors of chocolate and maple syrup; and, for a big, boozy coffee-infused stout, it didn’t suffer from acrid, bitter burnt sugar flavors. It was actually pretty drinkable, too, considering how alcoholic and voluminous it was. This was a really good beer.
Smells Like Bean Spirit was brewed in a limited run so, here in Summer 2017, it’s going to be hard to find. I feel genuinely terrible that it took me so damn long to get this review out considering I received the bottle a few months ago, but I found it hard to gather my thoughts and I forgot just why I taste in the first place… Oh well, whatever, never mind.
(AUTHOR’S NOTE: Oh, WOW, that was a weak connection to “Smells Like Teen Spirit”!)
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.