It’s dark, like black coffee, and at 9,4% alcohol, it is a strong beer!
Lava is quite unique in the Icelandic beer history. Lava was originally designed for the Swedish market but is now available in Iceland.
Malt: 6 types of Barley malt, 1 type of wheat malt
Hops: First gold, Fuggle
Yeast: Ale yeast
Alc Vol: 9,4%
Taste: Full bodied, pitch black beer with a thick brown head. Sweet with chocolate and roasted malt in the flavor. The aftertaste is roasted malt, smoke and warming alcohol. Aroma is smoke, chocolate and bit of alcohol.
Food: Chocolate desserts, dark chocolate
The story: The active volcano Hekla is visible from the brew house door and occasionally, eruptions are visible from the Ölvisholt farm. The bottle label resembles the view from the brew house door when an eruption occurs.
At Tastings.com, they say it’s:
Brown black with a golden rim. Aromas and flavors of smoked bacon, dark chocolate, smoked gouda, pipe tobacco ash, and toasted raisin bread with a chewy, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a long, lingering, grassy, minerality hop accented finish.
The folks at www.belgianexperts.com say it well:
TAKE YOUR TONGUE ON A TRIP TO THE ARCTIC ISLE’S RING OF FIRE WITH LAVA SMOKED IMPERIAL STOUT (9.4% ABV). IT WILL SKÁL ÞIG YFIR (BOWL YOU OVER).
Lava is a full-bodied, pitch-black beer with a dense brown head. It is richly flavored with notes of dark chocolate, rummy plum, roasted malt, espresso and lactose, with birch smoke in the finish. Lava is highly sought after by Scandinavian beer geeks. Taste it and you will understand why.
This Iceland Timelapse video, made by Doug Urquhart , will make you wish you were in Iceland. What’s more, this movie looks like Lava tastes.
Lava has been featured in the World Atlas of Beer as an example of Icelandic brewing excellence. Authors Stephen Beaumont and Tim Webb claim it’s “The finest achievement of modern Icelandic brewing is this amazing, top-class smoke imperial stout, which hit the beer world, as it will your palate, like a volcanic eruption.” We couldn’t agree more.
DRAFT MAGAZINE NAMES LAVA 1 OF TOP 25 BEERS OF 2012
There were more than 7000 new beers introduced to the US market in 2012. So the challenge of sifting through to find the best was a weighty one for the editors of Draft. It makes the selection of Lava (already named the best smoked beer of the year in the US Open of Beer for 2012) all the more thrilling. Editor Christopher Staten summarizes the process by saying that “Brewers perfected novel techniques, and found new ways to harness the power of wood aging and smoke. This list is about groundbreakers, and these are the top 25 new beers of the year.”
They write: “Straight from a tiny farmhouse brewery in Iceland, Lava does the land of volcanoes justice: Rustic birch smoke permeates this chewy beer’s roasted malts, rich chocolate, dark cherry and raisin, while a frisky 9.5% ABV lightly singes the back of the throat. Its complex depth and noticeable brawn make for a perfect snifter on a blustery winter night – absolutely fitting, considering its origin.”
Lew Bryson also recently gave a wonderful review of Lava. He notes:
“Smoked imperial Stout from one of Iceland’s handful of breweries. Weighty look to it, rich beechwood smoke aromas. Delicious smoke flavors permeate a medium-weight body, surprising notes and even some berry flashes near the end. The finish reveals the bitterness, leaving a clean bite of smoke and fruit at the end. Lush flavors, but not heavy; a smoky dessert.”
“Beautifully creamy, chewy with a faint alcohol burn. A fantastic absolutely beautiful supremely well-balanced winter beer. 5 out of 5. The best beer we tasted this winter.”
– Chris Schryer
“The beer is potent, but more subtly dramatic, stealthy rather than explosive, brewed with seven different malts (including some wheat). It pours out jet black with a thin, toasty brown head.
A variety of aromas arise from a bed of rich malt—dark fruits, brown licorice, a trace of birch smokiness and some alcoholic vapors. The smoked flavor is immediately evident and intensifies as the beer warms, but it’s never the whole story. The mouthfeel is thick, velvety, coating. My first impression was that the beer was a bit too sweet, but then a rush—call it a flow—of complexity ensues, a tannic, lightly puckering bitter chocolate finish. It’s a rush, but don’t rush through the beer. It’s one to engage with and savor.”
– Tom Bedell
GREAT WITH FOOD!
You might like to get to know Icelandic foods to pair with the beer: oysters, lobster and crayfish, arctic char, herring, sea urchin, halibut, gravlax, lamb, reindeer, rabbit and shark.
And here are a fistful of herbs, spices and plants to work with to turn any dish Icelandic: angelica, dulse, sorrel, dock, yarrow, wild arctic thyme, juniper, crowberry, caraway, scurvywort, moss.