Beer Review: Central Waters Satin Solitude Imperial Stout

A hearty winter beer to start the year.

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During my trip through Wisconsin last summer, I stumbled upon a bottle of beer that originates from a brewery in the central part of the state. Always an imperial stout fan, I picked it up and set it aside until the weather turned colder. When I opened it, I got what I wanted from my early introduction to Central Waters Brewing Co.’s Satin Solitude: jet black body with a dark, tan head and aromas of chocolate and roasted malts. There was promise of goodness ahead.

And that promise paid off, but not quite in the way I expected. For an “imperial” stout, as this beer is classified, this one comes across as simply a hearty stout – maybe I’ve had too many of those over-the-top motor-oil imperials that ooze with booze. The expected booziness never materializes in this beer, which checks in at “only” 7.5 percent alcohol, and Satin Solitude is not one you have to chew on to get through as with many of the mega-stouts I’ve had.

The flavor profile comes through with mild roastiness, chocolate, caramel and possibly even a hint of marshmallow. It’s a tad sticky but plenty creamy on the palate and finishes smooth, with almost no bitterness. A Guinness devotee might find this one on the sweet side, but for the most part it’s a solid representation of a less-hoppy American stout, or perhaps even a British export-style stout, but with just a little more oomph on the back end.

Interestingly, Central Waters is one of the breweries that survived a few lean years, having opened back in the late 1990s with a brewing system converted from old dairy equipment, fitting for a Wisconsin brewery. The brewery later changed hands, but the new owner —who had worked as brewer for the original owners—kept around many of the original recipes. Perhaps this beer goes back to those early years, when brewers were still just beginning to push the envelope with bigger beers.

At the end of the day, Satin Solitude isn’t anything special, but it’s a year-round beer, not a limited-release that people will hoard and trade. In short, I’m not turning this one down. It’s a worthy sipper, especially for those who like a hearty stout in winter weather. In Central Wisconsin, I’m guessing there are plenty of those people.