This strange creation from Nogne O (a name I still can't pronounce) is meant to be a pleaser for everyone: people who like Belgians, people who like dark ales, and folks who like big beers.
There's very little head and even less retention on this beer, which strangely has the color of root beer. Aromas bring to mind plums and raisins, but only slightly as there isn't much aromas coming off this.
My first sip brings quite a bit of confusion, but plently of enjoyment. The best way to describe it might be a beer of many movements because it seems to have distinct flavors of taste in multiple waves rather than one building arc. Hops strike first combined with a concentrated burst of carbonation that directs right to the front of your tongue. There's hints of purple grape underneath the bubbles. From there the beer expands out to the rest of your pallette bringing a strange mix of fruity esters, roasted grain, and acids.
There's a little bit of an orange tang to the medium-heavy body, which makes sense since they use orange peels in the brewing process. That orange mixes nicely with the slightly plum flavored alcohol taste that creates quite a bit of heat on the tongue. The alcohol and fruit build to a nice finish on their own and are quickly followed by an additional finish, which is a mixture of roasted barley and hops. Once again, this finish is good in its own right, but seems so distinct from the one you just enjoyed only micro seconds before. Finally, the real finale kicks in with moderate a hop attack at the back ends of your tongue.
Unfortunately, all three finishes do not combine to any sort of building orgasmic symphonic arrangement, instead remaining relatively distinct, like three musicians unaware that they are all playing in the same practice room. The only thing that connects these three movements is the hot taste of alcohol running through the palate. This warm streak, mixed with the decently heavy body makes the beer seem a little boozy.
The beer has excellent qualities and some great flavors, however, the packaging could use some work as those flavors are delivered intelligently but perhaps not as delicately as needed. It's probably most similar to a Belgian Dark/Strong despite the description because the fruity esters are certainly the most overwhelming flavor; a similar beer would be Trois Pistoles. All that being said, it's doing the trick for me tonight, and while it's drinkability might be considered to be on the lesser side of average, I'd still say it's worth a try if you can find it.
Imperial Dunkel Wit: ***