I’ve had Buxton Tsar in bottle a few times, and heard a rumour recently of a few casks floating about so set my mind to finding one somewhere. And recently, find one I did.
Buxton are a brewery I have been very impressed with in 2011, from their session beers such as Moor Top to the IPA Axe Edge, each beer has been packed full of hop flavour but always remaining perfectly balanced. Tsar is their 9.5% Russian Imperial Stout and released around September time. I found my cask on a cold winters day, so grabbed a half and found a nice cosy corner to sit and appreciate it.
The beer is jet black with a tan head. It gives aromas of bitter dark chocolate and a hint of coffee and a touch of alcohol burn on the nose. the initial taste is velvety smooth, chocolate and cream, leading to a bitter coffee and dark chocolate finish eventually giving way to more of the smooth chocolate flavour in the finish with just a touch of alcohol. The body is big as you would expect at this abv, with and almost syrup like quality in the way it clings to both the glass and you lips after every sip. It disguises its strength very well, but you still know you’re on a big beer.
I love it. I really, really love it. But what would I rather drink, cask or bottle? Cask, every time. Although the flavours are obviously almost identical, the cask version seems to have a much bigger mouthfeel and depth of flavour. I highly recommend you try this beer, in either format you can find it, and anything else you see from Buxton Brewery.