I'm very lucky to have a fantastic brewery withing walking distance of my house, in the form of the London Brewing Company.
I've been a fan of their beers for years, so when I started thinking about a Christmas Day beer I pretty much knew it would be a growler from them. Up to a few weeks ago, I was certain is was going to be the magnificent Mad As Hops (which is still a contender for my Beer Of The Year), but then they spoilt those plans.
Not in a bad way, you understand. They just produced something even more perfect for Christmas. Or any other lunchtime when you don't have anything planned for the rest of the afternoon.
Samson's Riddle is a 9.5% abv imperial stout, aged in bourbon barrels.
There's lots of black treacle on the nose, with oak notes and vanilla toffee.
Wonderfully rich in the mouth, it's sticky sweet with deep burnt caramel bitterness and a powerful alcohol - but it doesn't taste close to 9.5%.
It has a lingering tannic finish, with hints of liquorice and dates. The carbonation is perfect, with light, fine bubbles. There is a perfect balance of sticky sweet and deep bitterness, blended wonderfully with dark fruits and hints of the spirit ageing.
As my tasting notes say: Heaven! It's an incredibly easy drinking, and a half pint goes down stupidly fast. Of course, after a couple of halves you try to stand up and then you believe it's 9.5%!
Just about the perfect monster beer. 5 stars.
This review was originally published 25th December, 2015. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.