Mar 022013

Howe Sound Pothole FillerBrewery: Howe Sound (Squamish, British Columbia)
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 9%









“A dark rich black stout utilizing humongous amounts of roasted barley, black malt, flatted barley and Warrior, Green Bullet and Willamette hops. Thick enough to fill potholes!”

Howe Sound is a brewery the LCBO seems to have taken up as one of their new wunderkind artisinal breweries.  It seems the LCBO is finally listening to the demands of its consumers (to a small degree), exemplified by the reaction to its limited release of Westvletern 12 in December 2012.

Pothole Filler, after we purchased it, loomed in our fridge for a long time…This hefty 1L swing-top bottle of 9% Russian Imperial Stout spent weeks bullying all our other beers, booting them out of the fridge, one by one, into our sympathetic glasses.  Finally came time to take a shot in the dark.

As stated on the label, Pothole Filler is “…a strong, thick, black imperial stout brewed with six varieties of roasted malt, wheat, blackstrap molasses, five varieties of hops, yeast and Coast Range water.”  What’s interesting is that the bottle also states an allergen alert of “barley & fish”.  First, there is no mention that the beer contains wheat.  Secondly, warning that the beer contains fish is terribly misleading.  Assuming this means that Isinglass (the float bladder of the sturgeon fish) was used as a fining (a specific beer clarifying agent used mainly to clarify “cask” or “real” ales”), Isinglass is a fining that precipitates out of the beer along with the haze-producing proteins that it bonds to.  Never have we seen this on a label before.  British Columbia label laws?  Rather doubtful is it that the people of Squamish are squeamish to fish.


APPEARANCE – Opaque black with a clear copper edge.  Lasting deep tan head with sticking lacing.  Small crisp bubbles.

SMELL – Coffee, molasses, caramel, dried fruit, no harsh or overly roasted smells.  Hops are faint and somewhat grassy.  Subdued alcohol notes.  Dubiously inviting.

TASTE – Big smooth chocolate note.  Present hop bitterness that is well balanced. Long smooth roasted finish.  Pleasingly dry finish that cleans its fullness up quickly, leaving an assertive roasted/oily/bitter coating on the tongue that begs for another sip.  Alcohol is smooth and complimentary to this beer.

MOUTHFEEL – Thick but not chewy.  Mouth-coating.  Slight carbonic bite on the tongue.  Any thicker and it’d knock itself out of balance.

OVERALL – Incredibly balanced for the alcohol percentage.  Where many-a-RIS (Russian Imperial Stout) attempt to thrash out into the abyss, Pothole Filler gives you the impressive that it stands confidently balanced a foot before the edge.  Thick but not cloying, and particularly enjoyable is its subdued roasted taste and fulfilling roasted finish.  Molasses is prevalent in a complementary way. A very accessible Russian Imperial Stout.  This beer is a smooth operator.