I’m not sure you’re aware, but Andrew and I are pretty big fans of craft beer. I can’t quite remember how it all started, but sometime in 2011, Andrew started getting pretty obsessive about rating beers on ratebeer.com and he even roped me into reviewing a few (well, okay, about 700). So, no, I’m not going to be doing a lot of beer reviewing on Mennotoba, but when I saw that a local Winnipeg brewer was releasing a beer called Fake News, I had to try it. What better beer to consume while reading the Daily Bonnet?
First of all, I’ll talk a bit about the style. Torque’s Fake News is a Russian Imperial Stout. This is a dark ale that is more robust and with higher alcohol than most stouts. Originally invented in England, the style is called “Russian Imperial Stout” because it was popular with the Imperial court of Russia. The higher alcohol meant it could last the sea journey. And when you’ve got higher alcohol, you also need more flavour to mask the taste of the alcohol. And, so a new style was born. From the late 17th century onwards, the Russian elite had a thing for this particular beverage and it was apparently a favourite with Catherine the Great, the very same empress who invited the Mennonites to move to the Russian Empire.
I love this style. I think Catherine the Great and I would have gotten along splendidly. (Except for her peculiar fixation with horses…look it up).
Torque’s Russian Imperial Stout pours a dark black, with a creamy brown head and a bit of lacing (the beer geek term for the bits of head left clinging to the side of the glass). At first I was hit with a whiff of roasted malts. I’m no expert on hop varieties, but I smell the same type of hops as used in Torque’s regular (not Imperial) stout called Diesel Fitter. Of course, I could be wrong, I have no idea. I also get hints of coffee, and a touch of dried fruit.
As for the taste, there’s a nice rich maltiness. Lots of dried fruit once again and a dry finish. I also get hints of molasses and anise. The name, the connection to Catherine the Great, and the subtle hints of molasses and anise make this the perfect Mennonite stout in my books.
I should also say the bottle design is great. I love the agit-prop artwork and I also appreciate they gave a little pull tab to get through the wax. On high-end bottles of beer they often put wax over the top so that it can be aged without losing anything. The problem is the wax is often very difficult to remove, but Torque’s bottle is the first I’ve seen with a pull tab. A great idea! Yes, it’s true that if you read Russian Cyrillic, the letters spelling out Fake News don’t make sense. But I’m no real Russian anyway. Us Mennonites are actually Flemish or something, aren’t we?
Anyway, I recommend this beer. Get it while you can!