Craft Beer of the Week

Moa Imperial Stout

Beer: Moa Imperial Stout Brewery: Moa Brewing Company Style: Russian Imperial Stout ABV: 10.2 percent

See also: Sonoran FFF See also: New Belgium/The Lost Abbey Brett Beer

9 p.m., Sunday night. CSI has been called in to investigate a crime scene. Lieutenant David Caruso arrives at the taped-off Tempe home shortly after Detective Emily Procter. CARUSO What do we have here, Detective?

The camera pans over a gruesome scene. On the floor lies a tall man, obviously dead, with a cork lodged deep in his left eye socket. On the counter, a green bottle of beer slowly spews brown bubbles. PROCTER Over-carbonated beer, sir. See this muselet here? That was holding the cork on the bottle. As soon as he unscrewed it just a bit -- BAM. He never saw it coming.

CARUSO Well, it definitely looks like he got an eyeful.

CARUSO examines the green, 375ml bottle on the counter. CARUSO Moa Brewing Co.; what do we know about them?

PROCTER It's a brewery based in Marlborough, New Zealand, founded in 2003 by Josh Scott. Scott actually brewed his first beer in 1987 at the tender age of 13, then spent the next 15 years studying chemistry, brewing and so on.

CARUSO Brewers are getting younger every year. So, a beer from New Zealand's wine country. How did our friend here get a hold of it?

PROCTER Moa just started distributing to Arizona. It's on shelves at a few beer stores throughout the Valley.

CARUSO notices an etching on the glass in the shape of a large bird. CARUSO Ostrich?

PROCTER Moa. It's a breed of giant, flightless, dinosaur bird native to New Zealand. Apparently, in the early days of his brewery, Scott hand-delivered his brews to archaeologists working a nearby Moa bone dig.

CARUSO Interesting. Besides that it makes a pretty big mess, do we know anything about what was in the bottle?

PROCTER I already sent a sample to the lab for testing. Here are the results.

CARUSO (Reading:) "Russian imperial stout aged in pinot noir barrels. Beer is obviously over-carbonated, with an 80-20 head-to-beer ratio when poured into a snifter. Liquid is inky black; the head graham-cracker-brown.

Aroma is acrid. Charred bread, licorice, tangy soy sauce, oak barrels, a touch of plum. Fairly wine-heavy.

Flavor is similar. Dark chocolate and plum are hidden behind blackened, overly bitter wood and soy sauce. Fruits imparted by the wine barrels become more prevalent as the beer warms, reducing bitterness and improving flavor.

Body is thin and whipped -- fizzes like aerated soap. Tang and burnt bitterness settle into the back of the tongue.

Assessment: Excessive carbonation and overly bitter flavors detract from enjoyment. A relatively low-cost beer that is still hardly worth its price. Should one purchase it, it is recommended that they open the bottle at a very low temperature and over a sink to avoid overflow, then drink the beer near room temperature."

PROCTOR Well, what's left in that bottle should be pretty close to room temp now. What should we do with it?

CARUSO Drink it. I think it's safe to say our friend here won't be wanting... He puts on his sunglasses. ...Moa.

Zach Fowle is a Certified Cicerone, an accredited guide to beer.

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