I am a quiet fan of the Het Nest beers, and I’d been looking forward to tasting this beer for a few years but could never seem to source any. Finally we get to make that right.
As you might recall, Brouwerij Het Nest hails from the Belgian town of Turnhout which is also home to several different companies that produce playing cards and export them around the world. Every beer label is designed to a playing card theme.
A ‘Dead Man’s Hand’ is a pair of black aces and eights. It is said this was the hand held by Wild West Lawman (and gambler) ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok when he was shot in the back of the head by another poker player, so is considered an unlucky hand by poker players today.
Much luckier to be holding this Russian Imperial Stout. It is a big, dark intimidating beer full of roasted malt, chocolate, coffee and dark fruits in the aroma. They all follow through in the flavour. Chocolate and dark dried stone fruits like figs and raisins provide the sweetness, with the roasted malts and coffee cutting through. There is a little smokiness to the beer, and a hint or licorice or star anise.
It finishes reasonably dry, with a good level of bitterness accentuated by an herbal spiciness in the finish. Personally, I would have enjoyed a little fuller and softer mouthfeel, with a little less sharpness to the finish. But that’s just my preference, it’s a good beer just as it is.