Sweetwater’s Happy Ending

Reviewed by Ken Carman

How do they get this much grain into one bottle? This ale, weighing in at 9%, is thick, chewy: a champagne-sized Grolsch-style bottle filled with liquid luxury. Normally I would type that it’s extract-y, but the complex malt mix of pale, many darker malts and a lot of dextrinous malts are so velvet upon the palette it is irresistible for those of us who desire a 2 by 4 malt weight upon the tongue.

The hops, though present, get a bit lost in all this malt, but the beverage doesn’t suffer. And it’s not malt-bitter in the way that such multi-grain concoctions can be. Debittered dark malts?

The advertising on the bottle, and some reviews, push the hops a bit too much, in my opinion. Not that they’re absent by any means, just not quite the “explosive finish” as some claim; especially for those of us who are also fans of over 100 IBU Imperial IPAs. Just enough to balance off the darker, sweeter, malt notes. So what exactly do would I call this style? Even the brewery claims it’s a Russian Imperial, but I don’t get any sense of roasted, unmalted, barley. The usual, at least slight, astringent notes are absent and, to be honest, it’s just too complex even for Imperial Stout. I think they went so far with this in the “smooth” category they went beyond Imperial Stout. Perhaps a bit more of a spin off of Baltic Porter, sans lager yeast?

Whatever it really is, it’s delicious.