Tallgrass Brewing Company’s King Buffalo takes everything good about their Buffalo Sweat Stout and turns it up. The roasted malt is the true star of the show here, but there is enough supporting sweetness and hop bite to both contrast and compliment the heavily kilned bitterness.
As expected from a 10.5% Imperial Stout, the beer is black as coal with only some shimmering ruby and burnt sienna colors sparkling on the edges in bright light. The golden-tan head is reminiscent of espresso crema, and I would think a barista could outline a heart in it. The aroma from the pour is heavy on roasted malt, but the malt doesn’t smell as dark as the color suggests. The nose also finds scents of sweetened oats, rye bread, dusty oak bookcases, and light cherry and fig.
The tongue is pleased by the smooth consistency of the thick liquid. As swallowed, the liquid deposits a flavorful residue allowing the mind time to take in and decipher the bombardment of tastes. The front of the tongue finds notes of cherry, milk chocolate, figs, plums, and dates; while the middle of the tongue sees a transition to bittersweet chocolate and a bit of hop bite. The back of the tongue not only gets flavors as the liquid passes but is the stage for the aftertaste to shine. Dark malt, dark chocolate, figs, and modern fruity yet bitter coffee varieties all dance on this grandstand. The long lingering aftertaste is that of extra-dark chocolate blending with a burn from both the bittering hops and the high alcohol. As the aftertaste takes over the mouth, this bitter combination fades slightly to reveal residual raisin/plum sweetness as well as that of dark sugar. The beer’s complexity and plethora of flavors allows for some fun sleuth work with each sip. In addition, as the beer warms, different flavors are accentuated while others tend to hide.
Though the aromas and flavors are more pronounced when released into a glass, King Buffalo is packaged in outdoor friendly cans perfect for cool late winter/early spring campfire enjoyment. The beer comes in four-packs of 12 ounce cans, and at 10.5%, sharing can stretch the enjoyment among a larger group.
King Buffalo is a limited release seasonal which is shown to only be available through March, so get out there and buy a four pack before they are all gone (or I hoard the ones that are left). I believe after your first sip, you too will join me in praise of this monarch of malt.
Aroma (roasted malt and dark fruit)…8/10
Appearance (beautifully black with ruby highlights)…8/10
Flavor (complex and evolving)…10/10
Outdoor Friendliness (this stout can travel)…8/10
Alex writes a beer review every other Friday, two weeks ago he sipped on the Sixpoints Hi-Res.