Tag Archive: 8-10% ABV


de-dochter-van-de-korenaar-peated-oak-aged-embrasse

De Dochter Van De Korenaar: Peated Oak Aged Embrasse (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 10% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black.

Nose: Malt chocolate. Smoked meat. Brown bread. Smoke. Mature cheese. Beef broth soup. Light toffee.

Body: Brown bread. Big smoked meat – mainly smoked ham. Beef slices. Soft vanilla. Slight funky yeast feel. Brown sugar and malt chocolate.

Finish: Smoked beef and dried beef slices. Malt chocolate. Nuts. Slight salt and medicinal notes. Soft vanilla. Brown sugar.

Conclusion: This is a big, meaty beer. Yet somehow the peated boom still leaves room for the base beer to show through. First impressions therefore are that this is going to be massive – either in a good, or a bad way.

The base beer seems a solid Belgian brown ale, lots of malt chocolate, very smooth, slightly nutty with hints of brown sugar and some of that funky Belgian yeast feel. Good, and pretty much straight in the middle of what you would expect from the style.

It is hard to say more about the base beer – it feels very smooth, very high quality – but where it leads out from that base, the barrel ageing comes in with intensity. Big peat, big meat, and slight medicinal elements that make me think they probably picked something from the Islay end of the table for this. I am sure there is more to the base, it has a quality feel that says that there would normally be a lot more – but it is lost under the weight of the barrel ageing. Frankly I’m impressed so much of the base came through anyway – a big bready weight that gives room to set everything else up.

This is smooth, booming, manages to get a lot from each side of oak and base – feels like a beer that would have been better shared, rather than greedily devoured by just one person as I did. By myself I found it getting a bit over bready and peat dominated by the end – at the half way point it still felt great – just working enough to make it feel like a medieval feast of bread, meat and alcohol. In fact, while you are sharing it, might as well make a feast – break out some greasy meat, some bread to mop it up with, and this beer. Think the combination would work well.

Background: So, is this 9% or 10% abv – bottle says 9, the cardboard attached says 10. Looking into it, I think the base beer was 9%, but time in the oak has shoved it up a percent. So, 10% it is. Anyway, grabbed from Brewdog’s guest beer selection, this is a new brewery from Belgium on me. I do love Belgian dark ales, and since this is aged in peated whisky casks that also is a big plus point for me. Drunk while listening to some ultra heavy metal from Meshuggah – hoping to see them soon. Hoped it would work out as heavy metal for heavy beer.

odyssey-imperial-hop-zombie-blood

Odyssey: Imperial Hop Zombie Blood (England: IIPA: 9.2% ABV)

Visual: Deep black cherry red. Thin off white head.

Nose: Cherry pocked biscuits. Clean hop character and hop oils. Fresh pineapple and pink grapefruit. Caramel shortbread.

Body: Black cherry and red cherries. Caramel. Shortbread. Good hop bitterness. Pink grapefruit. Hop oils. Kiwi.

Finish: Hop bitterness. Clean hop oils. Black cherry yoghurt. Pineapple. Pink grapefruit. Dried passion-fruit.

Conclusion: Fucking yes. 4 days into 2017 at time of drinking. Seven days in by time I upload this, and we have already the first truly awesome beer of 2017. That was fast.

This has super clean hop character delivering solid bitterness and hop oils without any rough characteristics. There is a moderate malt sweetness, but a lot of the impressions come from the hops bringing tart fresh notes in everywhere; Though there is also a big cherries flavour which I am pretty sure is from the base malt. The two mix, cherries and tart grapefruit hop notes, giving a sweet and fresh mix that sparkles.

There are no off notes here, no rough edges – the flavours are big but polished to an inch of their life. Often I miss rough edges in the beer, but this keeps the intensity – bitter, not harsh. It feels like a super cherry touched amber ales meets Hardcore IPA. It really balances the sweet, bitter and tart fresh notes. In fact, on the Hardcore IPA comparison – this feels like what Brewdog wanted to do with their Hop Kill Nazis and similar but never quite reached.

Odyssey have always impressed me in all my, few so far, encounters with them – this is where they really hit the big time for me. If they can keep up this quality then they will become a legend of brewing -if this is a one off high then they have already more than justified their existence amongst the greats.

So, a polished cherry malt beer with solid shortbread weight to keep the base ready to handle everything else – allowing a huge mix of tart fruit flavours to do their thing. Find this. Grab it. Drink it. Maybe even keep the bottle label after you drink it is it is awesome as well. Try this if ever you can.

Background: So, I was wondering if I should shove this under Amber ale or IIPA? It is very Imperial Amber Ale like, but hop style is straight IIPA. They describe it as a *grinds teeth* Double India Red Ale. So, guess IIPA it is then by the “sticking as close as possible to how the brewer calls it rule”. Anyway, my last experience with Odyssey was good, and the bottle label for this is awesome, so I grabbed this from Independent Spirit. Drunk while listening to Dead Kennedys: Plastic Surgery Disasters – something about the album cover seemed to match the bottle label for this – and I do like a good bit of punk.

independent-spirit-left-handed-giant-black-angus
Independent Spirit: Left Handed Giant: Black Angus (England: Imperial Stout: 9.1% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Brown bubbles at the edges but only a thin grey dash at the centre.

Nose: Peaty. Wet moss. Brown bread. Smoked bacon. Slight medicinal notes. Cake sponge. Oily cooked fish skin.

Body: Bready. Creamy. Smooth chocolate. Light gin notes. Vanilla. Touch of sugared oranges and orange liqueur. Tart and creamy lemon mix. Chocolate strawberry. Milky coffee. Blue cheese. Nougat.

Finish: Bitter cocoa. Creamy lemon. Bready. Bitter coffee. Cream. Chocolate strawberry. More cocoa as it warms. Nougat and vanilla ice cream.

Conclusion: Terrible. Utterly Terrible. No, not really. Was just saying that to wind up everyone at Independent Spirit. Because I am evil. Anyway, cruel jokes aside – going into this I wasn’t sure if it was their Arran or their Fettercairn cask that was used to barrel age this. I thought the Fettercairn was more likely, as the Arran had only been bottled recently, but wasn’t 100% sure. So, now having sipped this (then confirming with the shop, but sipping is the important part) I am 100% certain it is the Fettercairn. It is unmistakable.

Anyway, will get to that later – as we have something a bit different to the usual Imperial Stout story here; However first we have the fact that up front is is exactly what you expect – A heavy, smoked Imperial Stout that booms, all peaty, forthright and meaty. Tempting, but no hint of the barrel ageing here.

This bold, booming front then soothes down into a creamy, lemony and orange influenced body – utterly shouting the Fettercain influence over the chocolate and coffee notes that you would expect. It wears the weight of the smoke openly, but ends up creamy and sweet heading out into a very different last note on the finish from the peaty smoke that welcomed you on the nose.

This develops even more with time and heat – the smoke style brings subtle blue cheese as it warms, which adds a well used savoury note to go with the sweeter creamy style.

The more traditional chocolate and coffee notes, while there, and more present when warm, actually feel more like a backbone for the more unusual notes to do their work. The smooth texture the barrel ageing brings has given a lot of room for the interesting notes to float. Often a smoother Imperial Stout can feel too light for me, but here it just seems to give room for the lemon,cream and such like to work.

You have a very competently made and very different beer here. Heavy up front, smooth out back with surprises in-between. Very good indeed, and I’m not just saying that to avoid getting barred from the shop.

Background: Bias warning: Independent Spirit jokingly said they would ban me if I gave this a bad review. I am 90% sure they were joking. Probably. Anyway, grabbed from the aforementioned shop this is their collaboration beer of which only 188 Bottles exist. It is a smoked Imperial Stout that has been aged in the cask that previously held Independent Spirit’s Fettercain whisky release. Drunk while listening to Massive Attack: Mezzanine. It is almost cliché by this point to love the opening track – “Angel” but it rocks, and the entire album is wonderful background atmosphere for drinking music.

aged-aventinus

Schneider and Sohn: Aventinus: 2013 Vintage Release (Germany: Weizen Bock: 8.2% ABV)

Visual: Deep brown, with overripe banana colour at the edges. Creamy browned head. Lots of carbonation.

Nose: Madeira. Raisins. Cloves. Liquorice. Spiced red wine. Fruitcake. Vanilla caramel. Smooth. Cream.

Body: Massive raisins, brandy cream, bananas and Madeira. Smooth. Lemon sherbet. Orange zest. Cloves. Glacier cherries. Caramel.

Finish: Brandy cream. Orange liqueur. Baileys touch. Port.

Conclusion: An excuse to drink Aventinus again! Like I need an excuse. Still, despite not needing one it is still nice to have one. So – since I’m guessing most of you are aware I have already done notes on the standard, young, Aventinus, then I might as well concentrate on the changes that have happened with age.

So – the first and most obvious difference is the mouthfeel. This is much smoother, feels less carbonated, and a touch lighter. This is a mixed blessing for me – it makes it super easy to drink, especially for an over 8% abv beer, but with that it loses some of the cool, rough, wheaty texture of a young Aventinus.

Then again, I am a fan of my rough edges – which the most of the world seems to disagree with me on – so that may be an issue only for me. However, the increase in intensity and clarity of the flavours and aroma is by far worth it. They are so much clearer and more evident – every one defined perfectly now. The various spirit and wine notes that were always there are now expanded and refined. The banana, raisins and spice that is the core of the beer is added to with slight lemon and sherbet notes. The sweetness has been heightened with vanilla and caramel now used subtly against the forceful front flavours. Everything that existed before has been polished up by the years.

So – flaws? Well, as referenced before it has a lighter body – which can be a touch thin by my tastes at times. From my experience with ageing beers this is nigh always the case with older beers and part of the trade off. They get smoother, but lighter feeling in general. Is it worth it? Well, I wouldn’t want to lose the younger Aventinus for this permanently, but, since I can have both – yes it is well worth either trying to age one yourself, or grabbing one of these as long as it isn’t on a silly mark up over the younger version. Definitely recognisably Aventinus in flavour, but with a different feel and a different experience.

Still the classic. Bulletproof to the years quality wise – different but still awesome.

Background: Yes, I have done notes on Aventinus before. Yes, technically this is just an aged Aventinus so should be under the “Old Beer, Good Beer?” section. However, this is an official release, deliberately held back for three years, then released in paper wrapping. Paper wrapping! Surely that deserves a second set of notes. Anyway, drunk 2016 this is a three year aged bottle of one of my favourite beers of all time. It was grabbed from Corks of Cotham. I was mildly disappointed that under the wrapping it was not the old school purple Aventinus label underneath, but I guess you can’t have everything.

Northern Monk: Double Heathen (England: IIPA: 10% ABV)

Visual: Very hazy to cloudy apricot. Moderate off white head.

Nose: Pine needles. Resinous hops. Passion fruit and dried mango. Banana. Moderate bitterness. Thick.

Body: Thick fruit juice texture. Guava. Banana. Creamy bitterness. Moderate hop character. Dried mango. Custard. Pineapple. Dried apricot.

Finish: Solid bitterness. Lightly creamy and light custard notes. Mango juice.

Conclusion: Ok, this doesn’t sit neatly at either of the usual ends of the DIPA spectrum. The base isn’t a super dry, out of the way, leave everything to the hops style DIPA – but neither is it a super sweet, making heavy with the malt to contrast the hops style beer either. OK, there is a lot more range to DIPAs to that, but they tend to cluster somewhere around those two extremes in my experience.

So we have something in-between – the base feels fairly dry, especially on the way out, but you can still really taste and feel the base with custard like sweet notes. It straddles the DIPA line.

Similarly it straddles the hop line. Nor a beer of unrelenting bitterness, not one of super fresh fruit. It is fruity, don’t get me wrong, but in a dried fruity, musty thick kind of way – lots of thick flavour – with enough sweetness to deliver what would otherwise be quite the drying flavour profile and backed by juice guava notes. Never one thing or another, never leaning too far in any direction, it trades everything off to create a big and satisfying IIPA.

It really does work. While its style straddling method means that it never hits the pure high notes that you can get by going all in with one interpretation, it also means that it doesn’t tie itself to the flaws of any one take either. It feels like, as long as you like a bitter beer, and can deal with big abv – and let’s face it, what IPA fan does not? Then you can just dive into this and enjoy it. Very good, and it is not afraid to show some musty, slightly rough edges – it doesn’t polish off the edges that makes a beer charming. This brings together so many good IPA element that I can unashamedly recommend it as a proper job done good. A fine IIPA.

Background: I’ve been trying a few new breweries recently – I’ve tried going for more standard, less experimental beers so to get an idea of what their main beer’s quality are like. After a few meh beers, I’ve decided to revise this policy – so I grabbed this big DIPA from Independent Spirit– not a standard beer, but none of those weird extra ingredients – should make a nice balance of showing brew techniques while still allowing me to enjoy some bigger beers. Hopefully. After going old school with Prodigy for music before, going even older school for this one with some Madness. Probably one of the first bands I ever really got into. Good times. The can lists this as a nice 70IBU. Should be bitter enough for my tastes.

vliegende-paard-prearis-quadrupel
Vliegende Paard: Prearis: Quadrupel (Belgium: Quadrupel: 10% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown, with overripe banana colour at the edges. Thin grey to brown dash of a head that leaves sud rims.

Nose: Dried sultanas and liquorice. Coffee beans. Malt chocolate. Crushed Blackpool rock. Dry roasted peanuts. Banana.

Body: Candy floss. Banana syrup. Frothy mouthfeel. Lemon sherbet. Treacle. Light chalk. Apples sweets. Caramel. Very milky coffee. Raisins. Cloves. Carrot.

Finish: Caramelised brown sugar. Dried banana and toffee syrup. Malt drinks. Bitter nuttiness. Mild apple sours. Coffee and caramel. Bitter cocoa. Carrot.

Conclusion: It is heavy duty Quadrupel time again, and damn today we have a doozie. Been over a year since I last broke open a Quad so I was looking forwards to this. The thing I love about Quads is that, due to the high strength, they have plenty of time to develop strong, often radically different, flavours in one beer.

Take this for example – candyfloss sweetness and banana mix – that could be one beer. Toffee and caramel with bitter cocoa and milky coffee- that could be another beer. Cloves spice, carrot savoury and lightly chalky over dark fruit – that could be yet another beer. Yet here they all act together in one big, balanced entity.

So, what is dominant, and does it work? Well the caramel and the very syrup styled banana are the most evident up front. Yet this mix of sweet flavours is smoothly delivered to not be sickly, and then the spice and grounding note slowly rise to restrain and then expand upon it. You get a big instant pleasure hit dancing on your taste-buds up front, and then it slowly lets the complexity come out, and makes sure that the original big wow doesn’t wear out its welcome. Very nicely done.

So, in case you haven’t guessed, to answer the second questions. Yes it does work. It seems unlike a lot of Quads that I’ve enjoyed in that it doesn’t follow the Trappist Quad examples very closely. It is smoother, sweet caramel style, but without losing those awesome Belgian rough edges. For flaws? Well it is very sweetness dominated, despite having a lot more to it than that. Not a problem for me, but if you don’t have sweet tooth then your probably want to look at some of the less overly sweet Quads. That aside, damn there is a lot in this beer – It is like A Belgian rough edged take on a USA smooth take on a Belgian Quad. That may have made no sense whatever. Any which way, I highly recommend this.

Background: Ok, I had to look up the brewers name just to check – I thought it was Prearis until I read the bottle carefully then did some googling to confirm. Any which way, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit – new Belgian brewery turning out a Quad, how could I resist? Not much else to add to that, was going in fairly blind on this one – put some Shadow’s Fall on for listening to while I drank.


Beavertown: Oskar Blues: Tempus Project: Deimos (England: Weizenbock: 8.4% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown. Large brown loose bubbled froth for a head that leaves a sud rim.

Nose: Potpourri and dry spices. Chilli seeds. Chocolate malt drinks. Slight smoke. Cashew nuts.

Body: Tobacco. Spicy. Sweet cherries. Smoked meat. Slight charred oak. Spiced rum. Sour red wine. Frothy feels. Walnuts.

Finish: Smoked meat. Dried banana and pecan pie. Slight cloves. Gingerbread. Light charring. Lightly dusty. Dry spice. Sour red wine. Mild bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: Well, this is more immediately interesting that its Madeira aged cousin. Though it anything it feels even less like the common expectation of a weizenbock. That said, they both share the same flaw of a a fairly weak aroma – This time slightly simple in a dry and spicy fashion.

What grabs as soon as you reach the body is a mix of spice, tobacco and spiced rum. Very big up front notes from first sip, behind that however it is just as mixed up as Phobos, but in a very different way. While that beer felt like Bristol beer Factory’s Vintage ale, this actually feels like a weizen heir to an unaged Hair Of The Dog Adams in the mix of smoke and complexity. That said, this had nowhere near the smoothness or richness of Adams – instead being cursed with clashing complexity.

However, it is slightly more balanced complexity than its cousin. The smoke and vinous notes give a more weighty beer which means the nuttiness and spice have a much more solid base to work from. That weighty base is also what seems to overpower a lot of the weizen character I think – so mixed blessing, but still a blessing. I’d therefore say of the two barrel aged Tempus project beers I prefer this one – it manages to get a coherent image out more up front and immediately, just throwing flavour after flavour and seeing what sticks. It still has some confusion, but powers through it to a degree.

Stuffy and smoked, with smoked meat and charring – yet vinous, malty, and even fruity in a way, but dominated by dark notes. Probably still not one for drinking now – again I feel age may do this good, the question (answered a few days later and added to the background) is which of the two should I grab to age?

Background: Second of the Tempus project beers I have tried. The first being Phobos, which I found mixed up but generally pleasant. Like that this was bought from Independent Spirit. This is a *deep breath* Smoked banana, walnuts, pecans, dates and figs infused beer aged in Sherry Barrels. So, a normal beer ya know. After doing these notes I decided to grab a bottle of this one to age and see what happens. This had a fair mix of tunes while listening – mixed up tunes for a mixed up beer. We are Sex Bob-omb and Ill Manors were only two of the tunes to give an idea.

Siren: Garage Project: Blacklight Banana (England: Imperial Stout: 9.2% ABV)

Visual: Black. Inch of yellow brown head.

Nose: Dried banana. Smoke. Pencil shavings. Quite closed. Fudge. Stewed banana as it warms. Light chocolate dusting.

Body: Bitter chocolate. Very ripe to stewed banana. Palma violets. Smooth and creamy. Praline. Cinnamon. Some blended whisky notes.

Finish: Banana Sunday. Toffee sauce. Mild chocolate. Smooth sheen on tongue. Praline. Bitter cocoa. Cinnamon. Subtle milky coffee.

Conclusion: Ok, sometimes the very smooth, slightly light, Imperial Stout style can work. Ok, who would have thought that? Normally I find that level of light character in a stout a flaw, but here it just successfully makes room fro those mashed and stewed banana flavours to slot right in.

In fact, with the smoothness, and later on with the whisky notes I wondered if this had been barrel aged. Looking at the bottle I am still not sure – they refer to bourbon barrel aged coffee beans. Lacking a comma that seems to say that just the coffee beans had been barrel aged. So that shouldn’t have made the beer smoother. I guess. Bit of an odd twist. I have no idea. Any which way, the beer tastes barrel aged and that is the important bit.

Actually no, scratch that, the important thing is that this tastes like a Banana Sunday that someone dropped way too much chocolate sauce on. I don’t mean “way too much” in bad way – I just mean that the chocolate would be too dominant if it was a Banana Sunday. It has a very dessert feel, albeit that someone felt a need to drop a shot of Irish whiskey into the mix as well.

Considering the number of elements in it, it plays a fairly small set of notes. That is pretty much the only drawback I have with this beer. It does the dessert, liqueur and chocolate thing very well, but there is no real progression from there. The coffee beans especially seem to have very little input.

Still, works the smooth character well, plays as a dessert beer well – if you want more banana in your life and in your stout then rock on! This does the job.

Background: Another one from the rainbow project – collaborationist between UK and (in this case) NZ breweries, based on a colour set to them. This is the indigo inspired beer, and they went with the idea that under a blacklight bananas look indigo. A nice bit of rules-lawyering of which I approve. It was made with blowtorched bananas, molasses, banana purée and coffee beans that had been aged in bourbon barrels (No I have no idea how that works). Grabbed from Independent Spirit this was drunk while listening to a mix of metal covers of pop songs. I am sucker for such things for some reason.

Beavertown: Oskar Blues: Tempus Project: Phobos (England: Weizenbock: 9.1% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown and mostly opaque. A couple of inches of brown bubbled froth that leaves suds.

Nose: Nutty and malt chocolate. Cashew nuts. Light menthol and mint leaves. Cinnamon. Lightly vinous.

Body: Malt drinks. Nutty. Vinous. Subtle port notes. Orange zest. Coriander. Stewed banana. Bready. Light to moderate bitterness. Light cloves.

Finish: Slight sour grapes. Malt chocolate drink. Madeira cake. Chocolate shavings. Bitty orange juice. Nutty. Smoke. Walnuts.

Conclusion: Oddly this reminds me of Bristol Beer Factory’s Vintage Ale – both are malt led, chocolaty, drinks with a hell of a lot going on. So much so in fact that it doesn’t quite mesh. So, that is your short overview of what is going to be the general theme of these notes.

With that said, it is strange that initially the nose is fairly simple – nutty and malt drinks. I was actually worried this was going to be a too simple beer. How silly of me!

The first thing that starts coming out to break up that image is the vinous notes – from sour grapes, sweet Madeira cake to slight port. Not dominating but definitely rounding notes. Good use of barrel ageing that still lets the base beer breath. I approve! Now the base is not the most complex thing, bitter chocolate over nutty notes – but it is definitely solid enough to set up for what is a mass of infusions and ageing influence.

Another similarity to the BBF Vintage is in the fruitiness throughout – still quite malty, like malt choc orange through to a fresher orange juice style. It is a good element, but it is the element that most shows the integration of flavour issues thee beer has – it doesn’t quite line up with the others, instead seeming to float around aside from the rest.

Now despite that the beer is not bad – in fact I am tempted to grab one to age, like I did with vintage, see if it mellows out and matches up a bit better. It is just with the fruit, vinous, nutty, malt led and spice touched beer there is so much going on that it feels unfocused. So, not clearly defined, but surprisingly easy to drink, especially for 9% and up. The solid bitter chocolate to malt drinks base is charming as is, but is they smoothed it out and got everything in a line it would be amazing.

So, pretty much like BBF Vintage before it a mixed up beer, but with a lot of charm. If I grab one to age I will you now how that goes.

Background: OK, lot to describe in this beer. It is a weizendopplebock aged for 8 months in Madeira barrel – infused with smoked bananas, walnuts, pecans, dates and figs. Oh, and oats as well as the expected wheat. So, yeah that interested me – especially with both Oscar Blues and Beavertown at the helm. That sounded like a match made in heaven. This was drunk after a session playing the new Doom and having my first encounter with the Cyberdemon and stomping its dick into the dirt. Having a beer called Phobos after playing Doom is very appropriate as any fan will tell you. To keep the feel going was listening to Carcass: Surgical Steel, for that real visceral metal feel. Decided against the Aventinus glass for this one – at 330ml it would probably get lost in the big weizenbock glass. Instead went for the Teku glass – always a good one for mall bottles and big flavours. As you may have guessed, this is another one bought from Independent Spirit of Bath.

Law Man: Obsidian: Barrel Aged Stout (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 8.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. No head despite a vigorous pour.

Nose: Smokey coffee. Raw coffee beans. Vanilla toffee. Bitter cocoa dust. Light moss. Bready. Slight sour cream notes.

Body: Smooth. Treacle. Smoke. Moss. Milky chocolate. Sour cream. Bitter cocoa. Bourbon.

Finish: Charred oak. Cocoa pops and milky chocolate. Grassy. Bitter. Sour cream. Alcohol air. Rye. Bourbon

Conclusion: This feels paradoxically light and yet overly harsh beer. Odd. It has very smooth mouthfeel – in fact the front feels like it lacks grip resulting in the chocolate notes coming in kind of floaty and lacking weight. Then as you are digging into that to try and investigate suddenly charred oak and harsh bitterness seems to set up shop on your tongue, just coming out of nowhere.

It is an odd, not entirely pleasant, experience. Doubly odd as the aroma is excellent – absolutely booming with tons of coffee and tiny hints of treacle amongst cocoa dust. You get full on roasted bean character just floating out of the glass.

By contrast the body, well it still has that treacle character, but now in a slightly artificial way. It is kind of similar to what a bunch of low abv dark beers use to build up the body to compensate for the lack of malt, but this is far from low abv. it is a gosh darn imperial stout and shouldn’t need to use such tricks. While they use whisky barrels for the ageing, the general feel of this is more towards the rougher edge of bourbon. That is not a slight on bourbon – there is plenty of good stuff out there – but this isn’t it. The influence seems the more simple rye crackers and alcohol air rather than the sweet subtleties that a good barrel can bring.

It is a pity, as there is something unusual and kind of worthy in there. There is this slightly savoury, mossy character mid body, and a grassy finish that hints at a more grounded beer, one with more weight and an almost Springbank influenced character. Something decent. Something with more weight to it. As is the beer doesn’t have enough weight to manage the barrel ageing, it loses the heavy stout middle, becoming overly smooth, and those empty moments get filled with the rougher spirit notes. Like this, the grassy notes, instead of being a pleasant backing, instead match with the charred character for a rough finish.

There is a good beer in there somewhere – some chocolate, some coffee, but overall it doesn’t really mesh. A rare case where barrel ageing seems to have actually hurt a stout.

Background: Saw this at Independent Spirit, a whisky barrel aged version of their base Obsidian stout. It had good buzz about it so I grabbed a bottle despite not having tried anything from law Man before. Drunk while listening to Bowie: Black Star. Heavy haunting music for heavy beer. Not much else to say, I’ve really been spoiled by great barrel aged Imperial Stouts over the years so any new one has a lot to live up to.

%d bloggers like this: