Friday Brew Review: Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout

When I drink beer, I get sleepy.

After a pouring a few bottles of liquid-carbs into my tum-tum, I usually want to take a nap. At this point, the uproarious laughter and rock’n'roll shenanigans of a beer-drankin’ session take a backseat to my undying desire to hit the hay. I’m not complaining – this fatigue is a fair tradeoff for the great flavors and false sense of confidence that can only be delivered via brew. But if I’m being honest, I think I’d much prefer to drink beers that don’t make me want to sleep.

But as along as the brews don’t kill me, I’m goin’ to keep drinkin’ `em.

This philosophy has gotten me through years of dilettante beer reviewing. However, tonight’s beverage seems to be taunting me, offering me a potable challenge to the death. If I hadn’t spent years aspiring to the greatness of the roguish figures of my favorite comics and movies, I might just shirk away. But my moral compass is the byproduct of pop culture refuse and hyper-caffeination, so it’s time to Han Solo this Greedo-drank.

Tonight, I’m sipping on Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout

So there it is – the Lefthand Brewing Company is challenging consumers to drink a beer that will put them to sleep forever. As a metal fan, I’m no stranger to the premise of waking up dead. After all, Dave Mustaine has been scaring me with the prospect of waking up dead since `86:

Whoa.

So how does Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout stack up against the chain-link fences and fervent headbanging of the opening track of Megadeth’s sophomore effort? Well, I’d say it’s close in darkness, but not quite as groovy or heavy.

The stout pours as into the glassware dark and smooth, with the head settling as a shade of beige. From what I could gather during the pour, the brew seemed neither viscous nor watery. This is all pretty standard stuff for a stout, which is slightly disappointing considering the fact its name implies imminent fatality.

In terms of smell, Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout is pleasantly fragrant while still maintaining a distinct alcoholic air. There is a sweetness to the bouquet that reminds me of those ales that’re settled in casks, although I’m pretty sure that this bottle isn’t one of Lefthand’s barrel-aged variety. If I’m not mistaken (and I just might be), there’re some clandestine coffee-note agents running secret ops in this olfactory experience.

Moving onto the mouthfeel, this is a perfectly balanced stout. On the one hand, this a heavier medium-bodied concoction, which allows for (relative) ease in drinking. On the other hand, there is a dense creaminess to the texture that prevents the drinker from pounding away like a dehydrated pilgrim at an oasis. Adding a light carbonation to the aforementioned, this is quite a drinkable brew.

So what does Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout taste like? Well, there’s a lot going on in this beer. The first flavors that I picked up on were dark chocolates and smokiness, giving credence to the assertion that this is a stout. With these more ominous sensations out of the way, the back of my palate began to tingle with a spiciness. This wasn’t quite a peppery quality, but it definitely made me think that it could be used as a key ingredient in a marinade for flank steak. Rounding out the gustatory experience were some roasted qualities, perhaps harkening back to the coffee fragrances that were stumbled upon in the pre-drinking ritual.

Overall, I’d say that Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout is a worthwhile brew. It’s not a beer that I’m worried is going to kill me, and it certainly doesn’t inspire the headbanging we went nuts with in the 1980s. But if you’re sick of the blah Guinness (I know, that must be mind-blowing to lite beer drinkers), this is a solid choice.

The grade: B+