The lovely white-wax seal on Inbound BrewCo‘s RIS (Russian Imperial Stout) commands your attention and informs you that you’re about to drink a specialty beer. It took us three attempts — rotating through three different openers — before finally cracking through the almost rubbery robustness of the alabaster coating with a thin, pliable, but sturdy opener handed out as a tchotchke by a different local brewery.
Upon the palate, however, the beer opens up readily. There’s a snappy, pepperlike bitterness here (77 IBU) that keeps RIS from slumping into the oversweet, boozy stupor that can define this category of big brews. Dried fruit can often dominate dark and heavy special releases, but in this case the flavor trends more toward dark chocolate and bold roasty notes that balance out the beer’s mild but persistent bite.
RIS is a fine, 10.5% ABV after-dinner beer that would flank and complement many desserts — specifically, anything coffee- or chocolate-driven. But it’s not a dessert unto itself, a gooey mass of sweet, boozy, rummy fruit. And that’s not a bad thing at all.