I don't think I've ever had more stout fun than that night
at the Toronado, 4/17/96, in San Francisco.
Here's how I rated the imperial stouts (and 1-100 ratings scale):
1. Moylan's 94 points Novato, Calif.
2. North Coast Old Rasputin 93 points Fort Bragg, Calif.
3. Rogue 89 points Oregon
4. 20 Tank 87 points San Francisco
5. Grant's 81 points Yakima, Wash.
6. Pacific Coast (extract) 69 points Oakland
(I smoked three very large and the strongest of the Don Tomas cigars)
Dave Keene was in a very good mood (he's the T's owner); the place
was full; and the participants eager for the 6pm start. For $10 you
got a cigar and six 6 oz. tasters of the imperials. These strong
beers ranged from 7% to 10% alcoholic volume.
I started with the Grant's knowing that it would probably be
the "weakest" and lowest gravity, thus the lightest of the six
imperials. That assumption proved correct.
Rogue had perhaps the most "authentic" imperial stout while
the entries from Moylan's and North Coast were extremely creamy,
sweet, well-hopped, and super robust. Moylan's imperial uses
Columbus hops in its schedule (not exclusively of course!).
The concensus at our table (seven very experienced beer lovers)
was that Moylan's and North Coast were the best while the middle
two extrants were still very fine indeed; 20 Tank's and Rogue's were
similar (neither as creamy as the top two).
The top four imperials are certainly exceptional beers.
Grant's and North Coast are the only ones that are for sale in
12 oz. bottles. The others can only be had on tap at brewpubs
and at the best (but too few) beer bars in the USA.
(Rogue can be found in 7 oz. nippers though)