Jan 7, 2013

Sweetwater Brewing Happy Ending

While Sweetwater Brewing’s The Gimp was a wonderfully tasty brew, I was really looking forward to this bottle of their Imperial Stout, Happy Ending, when it arrived the other week. This 9% ABV brew is brewed with a combination of Centennial and Willamette hops before an additional dry-hooping stage with Cascade and Simcoe hops. The end result (which is happy indeed) is one of the more hop-forward imperial stouts I’ve ever had the opportunity to sample.

Honestly, if I were to drink this in a blind taste test, I’d be hard pressed to categorize this as a stout, especially one of the imperial variety. It’s a little lighter bodied than what I look for in the style and there’s just so much wonderfully, hoppy goodness within it’s black depths. There are stout-like qualities, but as you’ll read, they are subtle and are more than happy to let the hop character shine through.


The brew certainly looks like a stout with a dense, dark brown head that drops slowly resulting in a thick collar of foam atop the opaque, black liquid.


It may look like I stout, but it doesn’t smell like one. This thing is dripping with citrusy, resinous hops. There is underlying stoutish dark malt and coffee notes, but for the most part this beer is all grapefruit, orange zest and pine resin.


Again, Happy Ending is all hops up front with the underlying coffee and earthy, roasted malts of a stout as the backbone. Grapefruit, orange peel and pine resin all mix together nicely as the beer flows over the tongue to a fairly biting finish with a moderate-to-high level of hop bitterness for the style. It’s not quite as thick as many of its contemporaries, but it drinks nicely with little-to-no alcohol detectable.


As far as Imperial Stouts go, Happy Ending is certainly one with a more pronounced hop character in the aroma and taste. It’s still got a stoutish presence about it, but the hops tend to overshadow the subtle char of the roast malt and the coffee notes that are present, as well. It’s a deceptively drinkable beer and is certainly quite tasty. I’d be curious to see how the hops fade over time after being stashed away for a year or two in the basement. Looks like I’ll have to plan a road trip to Atlanta.

Rating: 4/5

This is a review of a promotional sample from the brewery.

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