Tag Archive: 10-13% ABV


De Molen: Said & Done – Bowmore Barrel Aged (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 10.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Viscous. Thin brown head.

Nose: Salted caramel. Sour black cherry. Walnut liqueur. Toffee liqueur. Creamy chocolate. Walnut coffee cake. Praline. Mildly vinous. Sour red grapes.

Body: Viscous. Oily smoke. Salted caramel. Medicinal notes. Bitter chocolate cake. Sour black-cherry hints. Charring. More caramel as it warms.

Finish: Toast. Charring. Bitter. Cocoa touches. Walnuts. Bitter chocolate cake. Medicinal. Gunpowder tea. Burnt moss. Choc orange. Caramel. Smoke.

Conclusion:What the fuuuuuucck even is this? It is…it is…erm. Ok, give me a moment. OK, the aroma sells it as a mix of imperial stout and a good chunk of the caramel influence. There is very thick caramel, here in a salted caramel way, which I presume is the influence of the Islay ageing adding the salt. Next to that is a lot of liqueur notes – from toffee, to a nutty style which again is showing the special ingredients through strongly. It is a very thick aroma, very sweet and very complex. The thing that surprised me most is that for a sour stout, this seemed to lean more towards the standard imperial stout in these first impressions.

The body is, well it is half that – the back half of the beer is what you would expect from the aroma. The front half is nothing at all fucking like that. Up front it is a thick oily smoke thing, medicinal notes and charring kicking behind that. The Islay barrel ageing booms, holding onto the front half until it finally lets go so the caramel and nutty notes can come back. It is a heck of a shock to the system after the aroma pulls you in by whispering sweet nothings.

Then, in the finish it pulls another trick. Starting as a sweet sheen before sinking into medicinal notes, smoke, gunpowder tea and in general full on Islay times again. This level of harsh notes is an easy look to do badly, and at times this teeters on the edge of being too harsh, but generally works very well.

On the down side, the sour stout is nearly completely lost in the mix. There are hints of sour black-cherry at times, but generally it is either full of sweet liqueur notes, or the heavy Islay character. When the sour stout does show up that sour black cherry does work as a nice step between two sides, so I wish it was just a touch more present – but I guess you can’t have everything.

As is it is really good, if occasionally a tad overly harsh touched. A touch more of the sour stout and it would have been exceptional. Ah well, still a great and strange beer mash up.

Background: Ok, this is a … Hold on while I look it up … sour stout made with walnut extract, caramel and salt, then barrel aged in a Bowmore whisky cask. So fuck yes I was buying this one, that is incredible. Well in theory anyway, had to wait to see if it held up in practice. Anyway, another on grabbed from Independent Spirit. Yes again. Not much else to add. I should stop playing Dark Souls 3 before my eyes bleed but that is neither here nor there for this beer. I’d got the new Louise Distras EP -Street Revolution recently, so put it on while drinking. Good first impressions so far.

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De Molen: Juicy Loesie (Netherlands: Barley Wine: 12.7% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown with black cherry red hints. Off white to grey thin head. Still main body.

Nose: Cane sugar. Apple. Brown sugar. “Boozy” alcohol aroma. Plums and raisins. Fruitcake.

Body: Cherries. Warming alcohol. Prunes. Rum. Apples in jelly. Raisins and sultanas. Treacle. Malt chocolate. Madeira.

Finish: Molasses. Apples pies. Chocolate liqueur. Rum. Liquorice. Calvados. Light turmeric.

Conclusion: Here we have ourselves a dark, boozy beast, a barley wine on the darker end of the style’s scale, lightened by subtle apple pie to Calvados imagery. It is undeniably a barley wine – the apple used doesn’t dominate, but it does feel like the beer has spent some time in a Calvados barrel smoothing off its edges. Well some of its edges. We’ll get to that in a moment.

The initial aroma is actually quite simple and light. Sugary notes along with fruitcake hints and a general boozy weight. Despite the booze it still actually feels pretty clean and doesn’t give much of an impression of what lies bellow it.

The body instead comes in thick and initially it is all about the dark fruit and malt chocolate notes that speak of the darker barley wine style. Soon however a chewy apple pie jelly centre taste and feel comes out, a gentle sweetness that is bright against the dark boozy, spirity centre that is sucking you in.

The malt chocolate, backed late on by gentle earthy spice, keeps it from being too heavy and boozy, but trust me, the big spirit character keeps leaning back towards that direction whenever it gets the chance. Again the Calvados like apple character is what pulls it back from the brink. When faced with molasses like finish, and the rum and liquorice notes, it really needs the subtle apple notes to keep it steady.

Boozy but very enjoyable for me. It possibly could do with a few years ageing to let the alcohol settle, but right now it is already a weighty but delicious subtle apple barley wine. Well worth trying.

Background: Ok, I will admit I have had this one before, really enjoyed it, so grabbed another to do notes on. In fact I have quite a few De Molen in the cupboard at the moment, after not having had them for a while. They are a very fine brewery. I had forgotten how much I tend to enjoy their beers. Anyway, this is a barley wine made with apple juice. Makes sense. I always wanted to make an apple barley wine in my delusions of ever starting home-brewing so this caught my eye. Another one found at Independent Spirit. I’d just received Evil Scarecrow – Antartarctica for Christmas so put that on. I love the over the top camp horror metal and sci-fi styling of their music. Very funny and great metal stage-shows live. If you get a chance definitely go see them live.

Dugges: Banana Toffee Chocolate Imperial Stout (Sweden: Imperial Stout: 11.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin creamy brown dash of a head.

Nose: Thick banoffee pie. Very ripe banana. Creamy chocolate to chocolate fondue. Boozy. Oily chocolate. Thick caramel. Praline. Nuts.

Body: Banana liqueur. Banana ice cream syrup. Banoffee pie. Pecan pie. Praline. Nutty oiliness. Slight brown bread. Bitter cocoa backing.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Sweet chocolate. Banoffee pie. Ripe banana. Walnuts. Pecan pie. Bitter coca. Brown bread.

Conclusion: Ok, they missed a trick in not calling this “Banoffee Pie Imperial Stout”. Because this is a god damn huge banoffee pie imperial stout. Maybe the dessert isn’t as well known in Sweden? I have no idea.

Any which way this is basically a mix of thick overripe banana to banana syrup laden over chewy toffee to caramel backed by a moderately bitter cocoa core with some sweet chocolate notes. So, as mentioned, basically banoffee pie in a glass.

There is a tad more subtlety than you would expect from a beer of this type. There is a nutty oiliness and oily chocolate notes, into pecan pie notes. In fact it seems to like sweeter nut notes in general to round out the character.

As time goes on it seems that some of the more sickly sweet notes are lost -which is probably for the best, even though I do miss them – If they had stayed around I would probably have found them wearing over time. Instead bitter cocoa notes and some solid brown bread character come out creating a heavy middle, with the sweeter notes still dancing around the edges.

Definitely not an imperial stout that is for everyone. It very heavily leans on the dessert beer style, which I will admit is a style that can be over exposed at times. However I can’t blame this beer for the rest of the beer scene’s sins, and this is one of the better dessert style stouts – it sells the idea so very well, yet has subtleties beyond that idea.

After much arguing with myself I have decided that this doesn’t quite earn the “My Favourites” tag. Just. It is still really good and fans of sweeter imperial stouts should definitely grab it as soon as they can.

Background: This is the second time I’ve had this, first time I enjoyed it so much I decided I had to do notes on it. So, yeah spoiler warning. These notes are going to be positive. Then again I put this background at the bottom, so shouldn’t be spoiling anything if you are reading sequentially. Anyway, grabbed from Independent Spirit this is is an Imperial Stout made with cacao, vanilla, coconut, rye and oats. Oh, and natural flavours which I resume account for the banana. Wanted something heavy and odd to go with this musically so broke out Marie Davidson – perte d’identite.

De Molen: Hair Of The Dog: Binkie Claws: Woodford Reserve Barrel Aged (Netherlands: Barley Wine: 11.4% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Thin grey rim of a head.

Nose: Brandy cream. Sweet liquorice allsorts. Figs. Dried sultanas. Brown bread.

Body: Smooth. Creamy. Figs. Plums. Liquorice. Toffee liqueur. Pepper. Clearly evident Woodford Reserve bourbon. Brown sugar. Creamy cherries/ Cherry yogurt/ Cherry liqueur.

Finish: Vanilla toffee. Vanilla. Glacier cherries. Light charring. Bitter hop oils. Rye whiskey. Bourbon.

Conclusion: This so smooth, lightly creamy but with tons of that barley wine dark fruit flavour. I vaguely remember Doggie Claws from all those years ago, but I don’t remember it being quite as awesome and rewarding as this one is.

It is creamy in a way that calls to sherry trifle, alcoholic plums and figs (if there is such a thing, if not their should be) and burnt brown sugar that gives a crème brulee imagery to it. Really rewarding, rich alcoholic dessert notes all the way.

Under that are the more traditional barley wine notes – dark fruit, cherries, and some more unusual beer elements for a barley wine like some bitter hop oils that give grip and a recognisable beer edge in this almost liqueur like barley wine.

Finally, but far from least, there is the Woodford reserve influence and it is massive! From the more generic toffee and vanilla notes you expect from bourbon, to unexpected rye whisky like notes, to what can basically be best described as raw recognisable Woodford flavour. The barrel ageing doesn’t just add smoothness to this beer, it pounds out a good chunk of its flavour as well and builds this from a good beer to an excellent, layered experience.

From an easygoing start, ro a thick barley wine middle, to the hop oils and bourbon finish – this is a ride that soothes you in and then kicks you out. Seriously wonderful, then again, it is Hair Of The Dog and De Molen, what else did I expect?

Background: I would have grabbed this a lot earlier than I did if I had noticed it was a “Hair Of The Dog” collaboration. Absolutely love those guys and their beers are super hard to get hold of in the UK. De Molen are darn decent as well. From the name I’m guessing this is a take on Hair Of The Dog’s Doggie Claws – which has been aged here in Woodford Reserve barrels. Woodford is a darn nice bourbon, so sounds like a combo made in heaven to me. Put on an EP called “Rotten Citizens Vol1” while drinking – a mix of artists doing dark electronic tracks for moody drinking music. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Pilot: Buzz (Scotland: Saison: 11.4% ABV)

Visual: Pale hazy lemon juice colour. Lots of small bubbled carbonation and a small, white, bubbled head.

Nose: Dry mead. White wine. Dry honey. Pear drops. Grapes.

Body: Honey. Custard. Grapes. Peppery. Earthy notes. Pear cider. Light menthol.

Finish: Lightly earthy. Oats. Light honey. Grapes. Champagne. Wheat. Peppery. Muesli. Light peppermint. Raisins.

Conclusion: Ok, going in I wasn’t sure what this would show from its influences. Would it show the mead? The saison? Wine like character as this was described as an aim on the bottle? Turns out the decided to go with all of the above.

First impressions are very mead like, though rapidly become even more like the pure base honey than most meads, feeling and tasting of every element that makes up a thick, rich honey. This is backed by a custard sweetness to the body that makes for a smoother element than the thick honey. However here the base saison style seems miles away – lost below this sweet and heavy creation that you have here.

The wine like notes come next; A while wine dry aroma seeping into juicy grape notes in the main body before leading out with a slightly funky champagne style finish. The juicy, yet still matched by dryness acts as a much needed rounding to take the edge off the very honey sweet style that came up front.

The saison element is the last to show and the lightest. The oat and muesli cereal notes come out to add some wight, then there’s some light peppery and earthy notes that act more as a grounding than as a main character. Late on you get some darker fruit, raisin like notes which I have no idea where they came from, but again they add something to the otherwise very sweet beer. So, while I am enjoying this I must say don’t buy this if it is the saison side of things that attract you to it. There is a lot to recommend it but it, but not that side of things.

It feels mainly like mead meets white wine, sparkling like champagne. Also, this is definitely one to share – I made the mistake of soloing this and, delicious though it is, it kicked the shit out of me.

So, this is complex enough to be worthwhile, if not pushing the boundaries of how much range a beer can have. It instead wears its special ingredients on its sleeve, but adds enough that it doesn’t feel like it is using it as a crutch. So, a very good, very sweet mead/wine/beer thing. It isn’t one to have too often, it is too overpowering for that, but if you are a mead fan then this has enough mead style to be your thing, while enough beer to make it stand out. Definitely a worthwhile experiment.

Background: Another one from Independent Spirit, this is an imperial saison that is described as ”one of a series of experimental sharing beers designed to be treated like sparkling wines.” This particular one is made with woodland honey, which , as a mead fan caught my eye. I was silly enough to drink the entire bottle myself. It was very potent. Very, very potent. I’m not doing that again. Continued my attempt to put on albums I’d not heard for a while while drinking – Faithless: Sunday 8PM, though I will admit I prefer the very different single version of “God is a DJ” to the album version. Both are good though.

Mikkeller: Beer Geek Fudgesicle (Denmark: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Pours thick with a small brown head. Still main body.

Nose: Creamy to condensed cream. Liquorice. Bitter coffee. Marshmallow. Toffee.

Body: Creamy fudge. Liquorice. Bitter cocoa. Marshmallow. Chewy. Light rougher nut character. Praline.

Finish: Cocoa. Marshmallow. Fudge. Toffee. Hot chocolate. Butterscotch,

Conclusion: Ok, this is very creamy, big, sweet, thick and …very liquorice touched? Ok, there is one element I did not expect in there. Wonder if you can guess which one?

Though in the description above I have kind of reversed the order. From the first moments after pouring the beer I was surprised that a beer with such a sickly sweet name as Fudgesicle opened with such a strong dry, savoury set of black liquorice notes in the aroma.

As you sip your way slowly through the beer it becomes easy to see how it earned its name though. – there is very thick marshmallow to condensed cream mouthfeel and flavours that create a very heavy and chewy beer. Oddly the fudge flavours are probably behind the more bitter cocoa in the list of flavours by intensity, but there is still definitely enough creamy fudge for it to earn its name.

It is also slightly savoury backed – a the liquorice grounding never really goes away. It works well at keeping the beer from becoming sickly sweet, but I will admit I would have preferred a different grounding notes as the liquorice can get wearing over time.

Now it is still bloody enjoyable – one note in the sweet flavours side of things, but very thick and well done. A simple, but enjoyable party of a beer where everything is layered over with sweet heavy creamy weight.

Not Brunch Weasel level awesome, but a creamy, heavy beer that is technically impressive in the grand scheme of things, even if not every element is to my tastes. It you want sweet boozy fun, grab it. With polish I think they could take this even beyond that if they manage to add a few layers. As is, I loved my time with it, even if it is a tad simple.

Background: So, I am a huge fan of the Beer Geek series, with Beer Geek Brunch Weasel probably still being my favourite, and still one of the best imperial stouts of all time. So, when Independent Spirit got in this oatmeal stout made with cocoa and vanilla it damn near leapt into my hands. This was done by contract brewing, rather than at their new USA based brewery, hence still listing it as Denmark where Mikkeller is based (I generally gave up listing by where it is contract brewed as that just got confusing). Put on Idles: Joy as an Act of Resistance while drinking. Amazing album, a kind of Clash meets post hardcore punk with emotional openness, self respect and utter contempt for toxic masculinity. Great stuff.

Mikkeller San Diego: The G.O.A.T. (USA: IIPA: 12% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot. Some sediment. Large peach touched head that leaves suds.

Nose: Pine cones. Pineapple. Oily. Resinous. Light cannabis. Sage. Vanilla custard. Wheaty bitterness. Peach. Sushi rise and pilau rice.

Body: Peach. Creamy. Strawberry. Oily, resinous bitterness. Slight olives. Cake sponge. Brown bread. Light pepper.

Finish: Oily bitterness. Flour. Olives. Slight charring. Lots of hop oils. Good hop character in general. Greenery. Honey. Slight pepper and rye. Brown bread.

Conclusion: This is so very, very average. Which is highly disappointing for two reasons. The first being that usually Mikkeller blows my expectations out of the water with beers like this. The second is that this beer costs over ten quid. I expect a hell of a lot more when I am dropping that much on a beer.

I mean, I do enjoy the beer – when I say average that isn’t some passive aggressive way of saying bad, trust me on that. It uses New England style creaminess but being a triple IPA it is far more full bodied than they usually are – oily and slightly resinous to give a very solid hop backing to the main peach sweet body.

It is decent, ya know. Thick in a cake sponge kind of way with slightly peppery grounding, moderately oily and resinous in a way I would not usually associate with the New England style of IPA. In fact, if I was just going by the base texture/body/mouthfeel etc then I would be saying that this beer is very well done. It has a nice balance of savoury and sweet, spice and sponge, elements mixing for a nice balance, feel and weight.

The problem is that on top of that well done base is a simple peach and vanilla set of sweet notes that just don’t excite at all. There is no real progression, no spark, nothing I haven’t seen done better in a thousand IPAs before. It is a pity as so much is done right on the technical side of brewing – impressively done but with a very mediocre set of flavours used that do not show that impressive brewing off at all.

So, a wonderful base that does absolutely nothing with it. As a standard price IIPA I would call this worth grabbing in a pinch, but not one of the better ones. At its cost this is not worth it at all.

A great base, a very average beer overall. Lots of good ideas that I hope they use later in a more exciting and hopefully cheaper beer.

Background: You know when I bought this is didn’t know what G.O.A.T. meant. I was wondering if it was like S.P.E.C.I.A.L from the Fallout games. Anyway, I googled. It means greatest of all time, but I’m guessing most of you already knew that. My finger is on the pulse of modern culture. Anyway, while Mikkeller usually contract brews their beers at other breweries this one is from their own brewery in San Diego. Which is kind of obvious from the breweries name. I am stating the obvious here. Other obvious facts, this was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit in Bath. I get a lot of beers there. Had been to see Garbage live recently, and found a new band called Honeyblood as one of the warm up bands, so was listening to some of their stuff while drinking – nice alternative indie pop kind of stuff, light but far from empty if that makes sense.

Stillwater Artisanal: Casita Cerveceria: On Fleek (USA: Imperial Stout: 13% ABV)

Visual: Black. Pours thick. Small brown head.

Nose: Caramel. Milky chocolate. Cream. Marshmallows. Praline. Nougat. Smooth. Rich milky coffee. Brown sugar.

Body: Thick. Fudge and chocolate fondue. Rich creamy coffee. Very smooth. Toffee liqueur. Nougat. Bitter cocoa. Chalk touch as it warms.

Finish: Toffee liqueur. Chocolate liqueur. Easter egg chocolate. Milky coffee. Cocoa.

Conclusion: This is a very sweet Imperial Stout. Very creamy, using the malt load for a thick character but with the barest hint of its 13% abv. Well, my current pissed squiggly handwriting is probably a dead giveaway, but thankfully by the time these notes are typed up that will be hidden from you.

Whew.

Anyway this is a very well balanced imperial stout – showing a lot of the usual coffee notes, expressed here richly and creamily. It also shows the expected chocolate notes, expressed creamy and and as bitter cocoa dust. It manages big flavours without becoming sickly sweet or harshly bitter.

The sweet high notes come in liqueur like with chocolate and toffee elements, laid over a chewy, thick nougat and creamy mouthfeel and taste. Bitter cocoa and more savoury notes ground it, making for a rewarding imperial stout experience. As it warms a light chalk note adds itself to the grounding – very subtle but underlining the beer along with slightly more bitter, but still milky coffee notes – all making it very robust and keeping the sweeter notes under control.

For the first half this beer is perfectly done, but as you go into the second half you hit the only real flaw – a lack of any real progression in the beer. It is always the same creamy and coffee, bitter and sweet notes. It is still, very good in fact, but there are no surprises as it goes on.

That is a very minor nitpick though – it keeps it from being one of the world’s greatest imperial stouts – but that is just because there are so many great imperial stouts out there. It is still super well crafted and well worth grabbing.

Background: Ok, I only own this beer as my mate hates the idea of it. Long story shot – my mate had to explain to me what “On Fleek” means as he saw this thing’s name and the can design and hated the “Hipster” idea of it. So, anyway that stuck in my mind, so when I saw it on Beer Hawk I had to give it a try. Odd how these things happen. So if I hate it, it is indirectly his fault for hating it for different reasons. Anyway this is an imperial stout made with … dark sugar and molasses if a quick google is to be believed. Which possibly it shouldn’t. Anyway, put on Arch Enemy: Will To Power for this – big metal for big imperial stouts.

BFM: Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien: 2015 (Switzerland: Sour Ale: 11% ABV)

Visual: Ruddy red brown. Hazy. Lots of small bubbled carbonation and a thin off white head.

Nose: Gummed brown paper. Sour black-cherry and sour red cherries. Cider and perry. Booming red wine. Fruitcake. Tart. Lightly woody.

Body: Acidic. Perry/pears. Cider. Caramel. Gummed paper. Twigs. Raisins. White wine. Cardboard. Blueberry. Light waxy sheen. Dry fudge.

Finish: Red cherries. Fruitcake. Fresh. Raisins. Dry cake sponge. Tannins. White wine. Blueberries. Cardboard.

Conclusion: This feels like Rodenbach Grand Cru’s more easy going, but still prickly, cousin. Initially it comes across fruity and sharp with acidic, and almost but not quite Rodenbach like vinegar, notes. It soothes over time from that more prickly front to reveal a complex drink if you let it open up.

Early on is the cider like acidic notes that you would expect from a sour, albeit it with the less expected, but not completely dissimilar, pear perry notes. These are matched with gummed paper and light vinegar notes that call to the harsher Flemish bruins – tidy, but not unexpected.

This soothes into a softly caramel backed tart character over time, and soothed down it not shows itself to be brimming with fruit. It isn’t always the fruit you would expect though. The aroma always promised cherries and red wine from the oft, but the fruit was slow to develop in the main body, and when it does develop it is very different to that. What you get is blueberries, raisins and lots of similar darker fruit rather than the red roaming aroma. Still good stuff, just not what was expected.

The red fruit does come out a bit in the end though – with red wine and similar fruit coming in the finish that gives a little pep on the way out. Along with this development a light waxy touch adds to the body – calling to the Biere De Garde style that the body references ( though since that literally means beer to age I’m not sure if that is an intentional style reference, or just saying that the beer is aged…) . Any which way it gives a bit more grip to the beer, and a bit of variety in the feel that adds to the experience.

It is well set, calling to tarter, more acidic and harsher Rodenbach Grand Cru style notes but soothes into toffee and sweeter fruit against a more lambic like set of twigs and white wine notes. Not a beer that is always 100% on point – there are some off, cardboard like notes, but pretty much any sour seems to walk the tightrope over such risks. More approachable that Rodenbach Grand Cru, but still brings its own rewarding style. Very much worth trying.

Background: So, a quick google tells me BFM stands for Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes. Which admittedly doesn’t tell me much, but at least now I know. Taking a look online also told me there have been many vintages of this, some barrel aged, others I’m not sure of. Anyway, that is the 2015 vintage and I grabbed it from Independent Spirit – they have had it for a while but I have always been wary due to the ten quid plus price tag. Still, it had a good rep so eventually I wavered and bought it. It was way too warm as I broke this open from its chilled bottle, so I put on some Andrew WK to try and keep my party spirits up. Pretty much worked.

Founders: CBS – Canadian Breakfast Stout (USA: Imperial Stout: 11.7% ABV)

Visual: Black and still. Thin brown dash of a head.

Nose: Roasted, rich coffee. Vanilla. Toffee. Crushed bourbon biscuits. Peanuts. Slight bubblegum.

Body: Maple syrup. Black cherry. Chocolate liqueur. Oily mouthfeel. Eel sashimi. Liquorice touch. Toasted teacakes. Cashew nuts. Muted but complex toffee. Fudge. Frothy milky chocolate.

Finish: Oily sheen. Riesen chocolate chews. Light liquorice. Maple syrup. Vanilla toffee. Toasted teacakes. Toasted marshmallow. Caramel. Cashews. Bitter coffee. Ash. Bitter cocoa. Cloyed sour cream touch and chives.

Conclusion: Oddly, my mate also got a bottle of this – and he handed it to me to try once without telling me what it was. On fist sip I went “Hold on Maple syrup? This tastes of maple syrup. Wait, is this the CBS?” So I’m fairly confident that when I say I taste maple syrup notes in this that, for once, I know they are not psychosomatic.

So how is it? Surprisingly bitter considering both the maple syrup and the barrel ageing. Both the coffee and the cocoa push out in quite a bitter but complex way – holding the middle ground of the beer nicely.

The maple syrup gives a more oily sheen and some sweetness against that bitterness. The bourbon barrel ageing seems to be lost within that heavier maple character – it gives lighter vanilla notes than usual, mainly showing itself in the very smooth character of this high abv beer.

So, as a beer it definite rocks the maple syrup – despite the high bitterness presence this still comes in over that and stomps all over it. I kind of wonder what the base beer would be like without the coffee, cocoa, barrel ageing and maple syrup, as it is pretty much lost under them. Then again I think that is kind of the point.

I do feel that its reputation is somewhat exaggerated by its original rarity but … it is still a good beer; this has tasty contrasts – bitter coca vs sweet maple syrup. Bitter coffee smoothed by barrel ageing. It is a good look – a tad artificial tasting – but you know – maple syrup. I kind of expected that.

I would say that their KBS is a better beer on the technical side of things, and more balanced, but this has an element of silly fun amongst a solid beer and I dig that. If you can get this at a non silly price then it is worth it. It is fairly single minded but with subtle bitter, umami and savoury notes so it is balanced better than you would expect.

Is it a top 50 Imperial Stout, let along top 50 beer? No. It’s bloody good though.

Background: So, this is a beer that used to go for about a hundred dollars a bottle on resale when it first came out, It had jumped straight into rate beers top 50 beers and people were desperate to get hold of it. Though it is is still in ratebeer’s top 50 I managed ot get it at a far more reasonable price of seven quid fifty from Beer Hawk. Which was nice.

Anyway, this is the same beer as KBS, but while this has also been aged in bourbon barrels, those bourbon barrels previously held maple syrup. Hence Canadian Bourbon Stout, despite the fact this was not made in Canada. Makes sense, right? Anyway, this was drunk while listening to Two Steps From Hell – Archangel, aka epic music made for movies and trailers, which always makes for great backing music when chilling and drinking.

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