Hardknot blew my proverbial socks off with core beers Azimuth, Infrared and Queboid, so when a beer of theirs labelled as a 'triple imperial mocha vanilla stout' appeared in Bradley's purchase was simply inevitable.
Predictably, Vitesse Noir pours pitch black and with 11% ABV, struggles to form any meaningful head. The aroma is powerful to say the least, with alcohol and black marker taking over from the beginning. If you manage to keep your nose alive you might find blackberry jam, liquorice and dark sugary malts, but it's tough going. The body is thick and oily with a spirity finish, but thankfully the palate doesn't get the same abuse as the nose, with dark malts being very much the order of the day. Sweet toffee chocolate, maple syrup and an almost physically detectable residual brown sugar do rather well not to leave a cloying taste in the mouth; bold and harsh without being cheap and sticky.
The beer is hot an has nothing like the complexity you might expect from something that is a) brewed to 11% and b) flavoured with coffee, chocolate and vanilla. For all that, I found it a positive experience. It's demanding and intense, but once you get a third of the way down the sheer power of the malts and the booze reassure you that you're having a jolly good time.