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I knew only three things about this beer before I opened it:

  1. It’s from Cucapá, the brewery in the Mexicali
  2. It’s 9.2% ABV according to the label
  3. I’m told it is sold exclusively at The Beer Box

It’s rare for me to know so little about a beer before drinking it. Usually if I’m drinking a beer it’s been recommended by a friend or bartender, or I’ve read something about it. Or I at least know what style it is before drinking it. Not with Imperio. While paying a visit to The Beer Box in Tijuana earlier this month I picked up a few beers from Cucapá that aren’t readily available in the US. I was told this beer was exclusive to The Beer Box, and the label says it’s 9.2%, but that’s about all I know.

Appearance: Red with a small tan head that dissipated rather quickly in this standard pint glass. It’s a dark red, but when held up to the light it is the color of cranberry juice.

Smell: Boozy. The 9.2% ABV gives it away that this is going to be a strong beer, and that is apparent in the smell. Not much malt but some hop smells come through.

Taste: Boozy again. Also a bit hoppy. Far less malt than I expected. The alcohol and the hops are what stand out. It’s bitter, after a few minutes a bit of sweetness comes through from the malts as it warms up.

Mouthfeel: Good carbonation but slightly cloying because of the sweetness.

Drinkability: This isn’t an easy beer to drink. The high alcohol content makes it up front and aggressive.

I would give Imperio another shot when the weather gets cooler, I’d also like to try it with a bit of age on it to see if the alcohol mellows out a bit (unfortunately this bottle isn’t date coded so I’m not sure how old it is).