Hammer & Sickle, Renegade Brewing Company, Denver

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

ABV: 9 percent

Serving Type: 12-ounce can

Malty? Hoppy? Roasted malts

Reviewed: December 2013

As a general rule, I like to stay away from beers that place the words “Russian,” and “imperial” next to each other; it’s intimidating. But with Hammer & Sickle, Renegade nailed the oft-overwhelming Russian Imperial Stout. The style’s signature characteristics—smoky, toasty, malty—meet in the middle for a more-than-palatable imperial stout (which is probably why it won GABF’s 2013 bronze medal in the Imperial Stout category). The beer’s namesake and its almost-black pour might give the impression of overpowering heaviness, but at first sip it’s clear this RIS is incredibly smooth in texture and taste. Subtle notes of coffee and chocolate aren’t too sweet. It’s body is full but not too filling. Basically, it’s the kind of high ABV beer you can (and want to) have more than one of on a cold Colorado night.

Would we buy it again? We would keep our fridge stocked all winter if we could, but the brew isn’t easy to find. Head to Renegade’s taproom or stop by Little Raven Vineyards to try it for yourself.

Bonus: Meet Renegade’s owner and watch their canning process here.

Jerilyn Forsythe
Jerilyn Forsythe
Jerilyn Forsythe is a freelance writer and editor, and 5280's former digital associate editor. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter @jlforsyt.