Goshawk’s Grasp emerges from the bottle like a shadow, impenetrably black with a head that flaunts Martian red to russet hues, persisting for a commendable 10 minutes. A post-settlement swirl crafts a motor oil-staining effect, showcasing a visual appeal on par with the finest imperial stouts, reminiscent of the Southampton Russian Imperial Stout.


Initially marked by a fleeting red apple character, the aroma transforms into a symphony of decadence reminiscent of a German chocolate cake. Toasted coconut, dark chocolate, and a buttery ganache frosting take center stage, exhibiting remarkable longevity even after hours at room temperature. As it warms, dark alcohol fumes yield notes akin to Bailey’s Irish Cream, amaretto, and Godiva liquor, enveloped by a delicate vanilla overlay. Notably absent from the olfactory journey are distinct mentions of coffee or hazelnuts, a testament to the intricate complexity of the higher-end beans used.


Contrary to the anticipated sweetness of a pastry stout, Goshawk’s Grasp leans towards an intense bitterness, accompanied by a drier profile than expected. The flavor profile opens with dominant burnt sugars, progressing to a waxy dark chocolate block complemented by sweet fudge and vanilla. Subtle hints of earthiness and acidity, common in dark roasted malts and coffee, contribute to a unique bitterness reminiscent of Bell’s Expedition. The neat dichotomy prevents the beer from succumbing to cloying sweetness, maintaining a well-balanced character.


The mouthfeel is a standout aspect, elevating Goshawk’s Grasp above its peers. Initially oily and coating, it transitions to a wooly and drying texture, intensifying the dark chocolate-like bitterness to a noteworthy 9 out of 10. The exquisite balance, rated at a moderate 7 out of 10 on the sweetness scale, defies the expectations of traditional sweet stouts. The blend of oil, cream, and dark chocolate creates a silky ganache-like texture, enhanced by micro-bubbles that surprise with liveliness. The warming alcohol presence in the back palate is coupled with a hop bitterness that firmly establishes this beer in the mega imperial stout category.


Despite its 13.2% ABV, Goshawk’s Grasp successfully conceals its potency, presenting a well-hidden boost that defies the typical boozy and unbalanced traits associated with such high-alcohol content. The hazelnut integration, while subtle, impressively eludes the discerning palate. In a blind panel review, the beer garnered high praise, with tasters identifying it as a ~10% imperial coffee stout or a ~7% chocolate coconut porter. The positive reception aligns with my personal experience, affirming that Goshawk’s Grasp deserves a distinguished spot among the best imperial stouts available today.