I hadn't heard of this beer until last week when Zuch mentioned its polarizing effect on the beer geek set, and whatdyaknow, it shows up on the menu at my favorite spot this week.
I ordered it out of curiosity, expecting to hate it. I generally don't like sweet beers, yet I find a few downright delicious. The Creme Brulee being an imperial stout, I thought it might have enough body and booze to balance the sweet, or at least let me sip slowly enough to let it dissipate.
What is it they say about pessimism? You're either right or pleasantly surprised, I think. Well consider me the latter. Nine times out of ten I wouldn't order this beer, but on that one time, I'll be very pleased.
The aroma is fantastic--butter, caramel, and coffee. The taste pretty well mimics the smell but more malty and nutty, and there's a strong vanilla flavor that doesn't jump out on the whiff. You may be tricked to think you're drinking cold, carbonated coffee with Frangelico and International Delight French vanilla creamer, except without the cobbled-together taste of a desert cocktail.
The taste is robust enough to balance the sweetness, and the Creme Brulee soaks in its 9.2% ABV better than some 6% ABV beers I've had, which is to say that it goes down pretty easy. It's good as a slow sipper, but there's nothing stopping you from taking down an ounce or more on a single swig.
Grade: D, for delightful... internationally. Really, though, I would consider this a successful experiment. If it won me over, I'm pretty sure anyone would like it. I'll admit that by the end of the 12-ounce goblet, I was starting to get a little tired of it, as I will with anything that sweet. I think six or eight ounces would be plenty, but I could just as quickly find someone to put down three of these.