Sometimes you just have to take your medicine...
...And Siren Noire, an Imperial Chocolate Stout from Heavy Seas Beer, is bad medicine indeed.
Siren Noire, Heavy Seas Beer
As served at Rustico, Alexandria, VA
A product of Maryland, Siren Noire may be best described in a word: inconsistent. The beer changed dramatically during the duration of a single serving. Its well choreographed first impression dwindled deliberately toward a chaotic mess by the final sip.
Its a beer with promise that, initially, seemed to deliver. The components bode well: a beer heavy with chocolate nibs, with an added touch of vanilla beans. Then, aged in bourbon barrels for three weeks. Sadly, one discovers that Siren Noire's ingredients may be greater than their whole.
So far as its appearance goes, Siren Noire presented itself as a big Imperial Stout should. It’s tremendously dark and topped by a thick resilient head. The foam was certainly aesthetically pleasing with its muddy off-white hue.
The aroma was indicative of the general inconsistency of this beer. It's initially mellow, but grew more boozy as Siren Noire "opened". The scent was generally pleasing, though. It's best trait, that of ripe pecan.
Upon first sip, Siren Noire was an excellently balanced beer that immediately gifted its beholder with a velvety smooth body. A near-perfect level of carbonation rightly split a blend of cola and chocolate. While these flavors were the most dominant (at first, at least), a hint of nutmeg crept its way into the pleasant mix.
And at once, the mouth was met with a magnificent buttery silkiness. For all of the faults that Siren Noire would later display, its body remained remarkably smooth throughout.
Also immediately undeniable was the beer's tremendous stickiness. A syrupy resin clung to everything that Siren Noire came in contact; the fingers, the glass, the lips, tongue and any remaining facet of the mouth.
At first, a mild bourbon hint worked well to accent all those details of Siren Noire's flavor profile that, so far in the drinking experience, remained the focus of the beer, and enjoyably so.
But, slowly, things began to go downhill...
The first indication of impending disappointment was the appearance of a sordid cherry flavor. But not the sort of cherry flavor one would love to discover doused in chocolate. Instead, this was the sort of cherry flavor indicative of tough-to-choke-down cough medicine. An astringent sort of cherry flavor that Siren Noire would have been better without.
Continuing the gradual increasing misfortune of what was at first sip a decent beer, was the growing intensity of its bourbon kick. In fact, the boldness of the bourbon eventually achieved a crescendo overtaking all other flavor features, effectively masking those things about the beer that had previously pleased.
The transition was remarkable. The highlight of Siren Noire was its initial balance. Its lowlight was its eventual utter lack of the same when the beer became overwhelmed by one note, that of its strikingly off-key bourbon.
Sadly, the last alcohol-hot sips of Siren Noire were those that left the most resounding impressions. And they were not good. The drinker was left with thoughts only of a medicinal and sticky concoction that suffered from an excessively rich bourbon backbone.
Upon first taste, Siren Noire was a three-star beer. Ultimately, all that was good about the beer disappeared. As did some of its stars. Thus, dragging TheCraftBeerGuru.com’s rating for Siren Noire to a cruddy 1.5 stars (out of 5).
With so many bold Imperial Stouts available (when available try instead any of Stone's Russian Imperial Stout, Founders' Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Sienna Nevada's Nawhal, or Great Divide's Yeti), there is no good reason to choose this one.
As an admirer of the Heavy Seas Beer, it is with regret that this particular beer can not be recommended.
Pass on this one.