Christmas Eve. Maltjerry’s Advent Calendar: Prince usurped by Empire

Christmas Eve: Harveys, Imperial Extra Double Stout. 9% ABV
From: Sussex, England. Type: Russian Imperial Stout, bottle. Source: Harveys online shop

Christmas Eve: Julafton in Sweden, Julaftan in Norway, and Julaften in Denmark, where inspiration for the choice for today should surely have come, as Harvey’s Prince of Denmark was crowned “Supreme Champion” at the International Beer Challenge in London, in September.

Except, I’m choosing another in Harvey’s royal family: the Imperial Extra Double Stout. Fine though the Prince is, and as much as I respect the judges – indeed, I was lucky enough to be one of the judges, this year, as far as I’m concerned, the Imperial strikes black gold. Indeed, it won a gold medal too.

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You might expect the Prince to be the wilder, more rebellious beer, but you’d be wrong. Whether you think 9% ABV warrants an “Extra” and a “Double” in its name as well as the “Imperial”, it’s a rich, intense and demanding beer.

Demanding of your attention with its pitch-like consistency and colour, its sweet – no, sour – no, sweet-and-salty flavour, and its aromas of cocoa and coffee. Wild and slightly sour, from what tastes like barrel-aging and rebellious in its very existence: Russian Imperial stouts all but died out in Britain. A beer fit for any Christmas celebration, whatever day it is.

Harvey’s online beer empire (where you can also find Prince of Denmark)
International Beer Challenge list of winners 2012