For some reason, I always seem to miss the release of a new batch of AleSmith Brewing Co.'s legendary Speedway Stout. By the time I get to the beer shop, it's sold out. I recently timed it right and grabbed a bottle, which is not cheap -- about $15 for 750 milliliters. Now, it turns out, Speedway Stout is lingering on the shelves longer, perhaps because there are so many other great Russian imperial stouts around, for less money. (Or maybe because it's getting warmer outside and people prefer lighter beers.)
Brewed with coffee beans, Speedway Stout is one of the darkest beers you're ever going to see. Impenetrable black and oily, it pours with a root-beer-float head and emits an aroma of coffee, dark chocolate, and even dark fruit. The taste gathers French roast coffee, Hershey's Special Dark, fig, prune, a hint of licorice, and warming alcohol that lingers in the back of the throat.
It's a big, meaty, powerful stout, one of the greatest I've ever tasted, with an alcohol content (12 percent) that pushes the limit. At $15 a pop, alas, I won't be buying it very often.
About 99 Bottles