Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus from Sawdust City Brewing Company in Gravenhurst, Ontario is completely opaque black with a creamy dark beige head that is retained as a stringy collar and leaves long swaths of lace on the glass that appear to drip like spray paint. This Russian imperial stout predominantly smells like coffee and dark chocolate with a syrupy and cordial-like fruit tone, woody hints of pine and fir and an unmistakable whiff of alcohol.
The taste of Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus is uncommonly dry, which allows rich chocolate, pepper and coffee flavours to poke through individually and then blend together. A deceptively strong bitterness is balanced by thick notes of cherry, anise and blueberry. Though the finish of this full-bodied and grainy ale a bit hot, it’s not too out of line and leads to an aftertaste of lemon oil that helps to refresh the palate somewhat.
Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus sports a suitably black label with a cartoon-style rocket ship and crudely drawn asterisk printed in white, while a stylized silver star image serves as a backdrop. There is a thoroughly ridiculous and entertaining description of the beer on the side label, along with technical information and a slogan that reads “Born in Our Hearts, Brewed with Our Hands”.
The other side of the label has a list of ingredients that includes a hefty malt bill, as well as an acknowledgement of the beer being contract-brewed at Black Oak Brewing Company in Etobicoke, which is a welcome anomaly in the grey area of contract brewing in Ontario.
Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus is an excellent Russian imperial stout and is easily one of the best examples available in Ontario. Its dryness brings forward rich flavors and subtle accents while maintaining balance. I’ve paired this hearty brew with chocolate, cherry cheesecake, smoked brie, sugar cookies, light rye bread and roast beef.
At the time of publication, a limited supply of Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus was still available at about 75 LCBO stores. I sincerely hope it gets picked up as a fall seasonal release again next year so I can compare a fresh bottle to the ones I set aside now.
Type: Russian Imperial Stout
Region: Ontario, Gravenhurst
Brewery: Sawdust City Brewing Company
Format Purchased: 650 mL
Alcohol Content: 9.0%