Bristol Beer Factory: Imperial Stout Aged In Glenlivet Casks (England: Imperial Stout: 10.7% ABV)

Visual: Black. On a fast pour it manages a coffee coloured set of bubbles that may or may not pass for a head.  Not much life on the bubbles even. Leaves a slight viscous brown trail.

Nose: Bitter coffee. That sour dough freshness. Apples. Custard cream biscuits.  Fruit crumbles toppings covered with sugar.  Vanilla doughnuts. Slight sour grapes. Barley husks and raisins.

Body:  Apple crumble. Bitter chocolate. Very slick. Good bitterness and light fudge.  White grapes. Frothy chocolate fondue. Teabags. Raisins.

Finish:  Chocolate gateaux. Fudge. Bitter chocolate. Almonds. White wine. The alcohol is more evident at this end.

Conclusion:  I was wondering how well the Glenlivet cask would stand up to this beer. I always think of the Livet as a lighter fruitier whisky, while this imperial stout is a harsh thing to fight.  A bit of a David and Goliath match up here.

Initially impressions are one of a smoothed out version of the Imperial Stout.  Main body is rich yet bitter. At the finish you do notice the alcohol more with an air that can’t help but remind you of the over ten percent abv and the years it’s spent lazing in the cask to achieve that. Unfortunately it’s mainly the alcohol hit not the whisky flavour that reminds you.

The whisky influence does seem subtle. There are sub notes to the beer of fruit and occasional wine like notes with sour grape touches.  The ageing seems more to have restrained the beers excesses rather than use the whisky flavour to massively expand it.

The reigning in and smoothness make for a much better beer though. It allows the bitterness to be present without getting annoying. In fact it seems like an actualisation of the intended difference between Yeti Stout and Oak Aged Yeti Stout.  While I never really got the oak aged Yeti the intent was to smooth out the beer and here, unlike the Yeti, the concept seems to have really worked.

Initially this beer was chilled and then allowed to warm to room temperature. The aromas and flavours shifted heavily during this time resulting in the laundry list like group of flavours listed above.

So, a good Imperial Stout which benefits from the ageing in subtle ways. In a way I am disappointed the Glenlivet was not more obvious. It seems like a high quality Imperial Stout rather than a good example of oak ageing an Imperial Stout.  In that way it seems a beer of similar quality to the BBF Ultimate Stout. It shares that beers smoothness and good range of complexity, plus has a nice set of fruit notes. Unfortunately the high price, low availability and high abv means that it doesn’t have quite the same niche it fits as the Ultimate Stout and so while it is a beer I enjoy it’s not quite one I would hunt out as often as Ultimate Stout.

A good, but not obviously whisky, Imperial Stout.

Background:  Bristol Beer factory are the great stout producing brewery that made the Twelve Stouts of Christmas” set of which this is one. In fact this is one of the last two. I have been saving the big gun whisky aged beers until last. This one was drunk whilst listening to Spektrmodule 6.