It's been nearly a year since Mr Maujean and I have reported on our drinking-and-airgun experiments, and when we last spoke about it we discussed the unsuitability of cigars as an accompaniment to shooting. Well, it was a hot summer day, and I had an imperial stout to review, so I thought it would be nice if I could just sip the stout while I was doing something else. I've always thought that a really nice stout has a range of flavors that develop as the beer warms up, and though I'm not necessarily a proponent of drinking room-temperature (or outside in the summer in Oregon temperature) beer, it can really help one get a handle on a dark one.
So I dug out my BB gun, which hadn't seen any action in probably eight months, and set up some targets at an embarrassingly close range. I then popped open the beer, an Eel River Raven's Eye Imperial Stout
, and began drinking and plinking. My first step was to take a look at this beer, because I suspected that analyzing the brew up close might help tune and refine my eyesight, thus honing my aim. This is a rich-looking, dark, espresso-colored brew with a brownish-tan head that has poor retention, which doesn't throw me off too much, as I figured it would have a rather high ABV and thus not a lot of yeast life left for bottle conditioning. I then fired five shots at my first target and did horribly. My lack of practice was really showing.
"Maybe it's the wind," I thought to myself, and so I sniffed the beer hoping that a bit of olfactory exercise would sharpen my wind-detecting senses, whatever they are. Pleasant coffee and roasted grain aromas wafted into my nostrils. This beer certainly smells like a stout, and certainly looks like a stout, and what the hell, I may as well admit it. I was going to shoot at my second target before tasting the beer, but I couldn't help myself. I was in for a little bit of a surprise.
The Raven's Eye has a fairly light, drinkable body for an imperial
stout. It's still a big beer, with a surprising fruit character and a
rich, medium body that highlights all of the flavors you'd expect from
an imperial stout. The heat of its 9.5% ABV is well-concealed, however, and since I didn't look at the bottle while I was drinking it, I assumed it to be perhaps a 7% ABV beer, which would be quite low for an imperial stout.
As I continued to shoot, the beer warmed up a little, and the rich sweetness became accented by a nice roasted bitterness in the finish. I enjoyed the beer quite a bit, I must say, and whether it was the quality of the brew or the practice, my shooting improved noticeably by my sixth target, and I was getting much better grouping and even a good number of bull's eyes. While I could never sanely endorse drinking and shooting at the same time, I can sanely endorse this beer, and would urge you to go out and buy some, and maybe save it for the chilly Fall months ahead.