So the original tasting notes from the first bottle got tossed when the wife cleaned out the office, and I just got into the second one last night. Good thing you're not pushy!
888 Russian Imperial Stout
Good hiss, normal at least; the head was maybe 1/4" with no lacing, and was a very dark bone color. The beer is really black/dark brown with slight reddish brown highlights if you tilt your glass just right.
A bit of roast & toastiness, big burnt toast and dried fruit with some coffee and a ton of chocolate to round it all out. There's a hint of alcohol but it's not overwhelming. Above all, it has that awesome "dirty potato chip" (as in, the actual brand, not a dirty potato chip) aroma that I first picked up on my first bottle of Bell's Expedition, and loved, and now I look for it in every American imperial stout I try. There's really no hop aromas.
Mid-weight, not too thick. Again with the Dirty Potato Chip thing. Very balanced bitterness, with very faint hop flavor and well-defined malt character (culminating in a toasted raisin bread note). The dried fruit and big coffee/chocolate again come through here, but it doesn't last long, as the dirty chips thing rules the finish again. There's a good amount of roast, not a ton, not overwhelming. A touch of astingency is really the most noticeable flaw, but it's not a big one. The alcohol is well-hidden, and it's quaffable. Very impressed with the final sugar levels and the balance with the IBU's.
Proximity to Style:
Aside from not having a ton of roastiness (which I think is often overdone in many American RIS's), it's very close to what I consider to be one of the best American versions (but not necessarily a Russian
Impy Stout), the Expedition.
Very close to mine, I think, but the dirty potato chip thing put it over the top. Very nicely done, pretty much the best of the bunch (yes, I do remember that much from the original side-by-side tasting!) Well done!