One of the nicer changes in the way the provincial good beer trade works is that bottles from beyond the west side of Toronto now show up here in government stores beyond the east side. Grand River Brewing's Russian Gun Imperial Stout is one of the best aspects of this internal free trade. It's named after a Crimean War cannon in the town square, oddly described as a reward for local support of the English troops at a time when Upper Canada was participating part of the British empire. These things happen. We, too, have Napoleonic-era cannon in our city.
As you can see from the label, itself reminiscent of Warsaw Pack 1979 styling, the beer is flavoured. One of the great things in our land is that bit of government truth in labeling. Add things to the beer? It becomes flavoured beer by law - which, in this case, alerts me to the molasses and spice. The beer has that lush licorice that I like in an imperial stout with a nod of smoky depth care of the molasses, itself a memory of empire. The spices are thankfully offered with a pretty light touch. If I were to guess, a tiny nod to cloves and a touch more nutmeg. But do I know? Nope. It gives off a rich blackest bready aroma and, to mix senses, casts the most attractive fine mocha cream rim and froth. A thick beer, almost sticky, it has one characteristic I enjoy more than all the rest. It lets you know it is fundamentally a drink made with grain. Dark malts loaded with hints of date, fig, sugars, rum and even char mutter of an earlier time. A stout to stand firm by the side of a good port in any engagement with aged cheddar.