Revisting a classic…

Revisting a classic…

Founders Brewing Company, Kentucky Bourbon Stout, Grand Rapids, MI

Founders Brewing Company, Kentucky Bourbon Stout poured into a beer chalice.
Founders Brewing Company, Kentucky Bourbon Stout

11.2 % abv – On the label: “The Amazing Kosmicki’s Highly Acclaimed KBS A Flavored Stout is good for everything a flavored stout ought to be good for – Ale brewed with chocolate and coffee, aged in oak bourbon barrels”

This is a tough one to find. Many thanks to my brother Tom for chasing it down for me.

Pours a jet black color with a heavy dark tan head. Delicate lace all over the glass. Tiramisu, dark chocolate, and fresh cup of coffee on the nose. First sip is a mellow and sophisticated combination of chocolate, espresso, maple syrup, and bourbon ball cookies. Medium to full bodied mouthfeel. Be on notice, this is a dangerous beer. It is 11.2% abv, but incredibly drinkable. Virtually no alcohol esters. I did cellar this one for quite a while, but I imagine it is pretty smooth when it is fresh. It is not over sweet or cloying in any way. They throw in a wallop of 70 IBUs worth of hops in there to balance it off. The high alcohol and malt bill makes this 12 oz bottle a whopping 340 calories! As I make my way through it I am picking up the slightest citrus hop flavor, but it is really all chocolate and coffee goodness. By the end it is hard to tell the difference between a mild astringency from the heavy amount of malts in the mash and the hops, but I don’t mean this in a bad way. It gets drier and drier with each sip. Flavors continue to emerge, including bourbon vanilla, sherry, pepper, oatmeal, molasses, and anise. This is an incredibly complex beer that is a joy to drink.

Again in 2017.  It is 5 degrees with a -4 degree wind chill and I needed some warming up. KBS to the rescue. I am reviewing it without reading my previous notes from 2015. This one has been aged about 9 months. Chocolate and coffee aromas fight for domination, but it goes back and forth with each sip.  A pure dessert bomb of flavor. A touch of alcohol is noticeable on the first sip, but it is by no means boozy. It provides a very subtle warming on the back of the throat and belly by the third sip. This is just a crazy delicious beer. Plenty of oak and sherry-like dryness keeps the sweet chocolate and malt flavors from becoming too cloying. So complex, with dark chocolate, espresso, anise, dry oak, sherry, black strap molasses, bourbon vanilla, and subtle bursts of berries and citrus. I paired it up with a few Trader Joe’s Belgian truffles just to make it an even more ridiculous caloric experience.  I am trying to drink it slowly, but it is milkshake smooth and irresistible. Really just a delight to drink this. It has been in my top 25 beers of all time and it will stay there. That puts it in about the 99th percentile of the almost 2,400 beers I have tried! I have another one that I am going to cellar for another year. Check in again the next holiday season!

Whale isn’t this beer amazing…

Whale isn’t this beer amazing…

Finback Brewery, BQE Imperial Chocolate Stout, Queens, NY

Finback BQE Imperial Chocolate Stout aged in bourbon barrels poured into a beer chalice.
Finback BQE Imperial Chocolate Stout aged in bourbon barrels

9.2% abv. 63 IBU. Brewed with local Mast Brothers cocoa nibs and Native Coffee Roasters coffee and aged in bourbon barrels. Pours jet black with a thin tan head. Rich dark chocolate aroma with strong coffee notes. Full-bodied yet silky mouthfeel. Not boozy at all, but slight warming on the back of the throat after a few sips. The alcohol is really well masked. Complex and truly enjoyable mix of flavors including dark chocolate, dark roast coffee, sugary street roasted nuts, fig, dates, molasses, bourbon vanilla. A little dry astringency at finish from the heavy malt billing, but that is expected. Some citrus hops add to the mix. This really is a delightful beer. It gets better and better with each sip, I want more!

I’d attend this church on Sunday Morning…

I’d attend this church on Sunday Morning…

Weyerbacher Brewing Company, Sunday Morning Stout, Easton, PA

11.3% abv. Bourbon barrel aged with coffee added. Coffee aroma explodes from the bottle. Pours black with a reddish tan head. There is absolutely no doubt that this is a big beer to be treated cautiously. First sip is oak, bourbon, and coffee. Warming is there, but the alcohol is masked very well. Complex flavor profile includes oak, sherry, bourbon, vanilla, anise, pepper, maple syrup, and of course tons of coffee. It has a very earthy base taste, like raw cocoa nibs. I had to check, it packs a whopping 340 calories! Holy shit, that is just a hair less than two full sized Snickers bars, buut as Ogden Nash once said, “candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker!” Full bodied, almost viscous. Tons of roasted sweetness, but hops do emerge a bit after a few ounces. Burnt sugar, caramel, figs, prunes, and maybe even some coconut add to the complex mix of flavors.  Damn this one is kicking my ass, these sneaky imperial stouts are a force to be reckoned with.

Turning the clock back to 2013…

Turning the clock back to 2013…

John Courage Imperial Russian Stout, Bedford, England

Turning the clocks back tonight and figured I would turn my beer clock all the way back to 2013. One of the hardest things about aging beer is actually letting it age. I normally have about 20-30 beers just staring at me and waiting to be cracked open every time I go down to the cellar for an adult malted beverage. I try to keep all of them there for at least a year, but after that it is hard to show restraint. I aged this for about 2 years, but I really could have let it sit much longer. The drink by date on the bottle is 02/09/26!

10% abv. Pours jet black with a thin tan head. Espresso, chocolate and dark fruits on the nose. Full-bodied and smooth. This is a pretty complex beer. First sip is a mouthful of chocolate covered coffee beans, but before you even get that first sip down, citrusy hops, peaty smoke, pepper, and sweet black strap molasses all present themselves. Slightly boozy, but I bet another couple of years in the cellar would have cured that. Hop tingle all over the mouth at finish. Full of flavor, but not overwhelming. All kinds of earthy flavors like fig, fresh roasted nuts, anise seed, pear skin, and dates. Dry and just a touch astringent at finish from the heavy malt profile. This is what an imperial stout is supposed to taste like. No coffee or chocolate added, just malt, hops, water and yeast. A joy to drink. This one just made me edit my top 100 page! I really ought to cellar one until 2026 and crack it open when my daughter graduates from high school!

Patience is a virtue after all…

Patience is a virtue after all…

Moa Brewing Company, Imperial Stout aged in Pinot noir barrels

Moa Brewing Company was founded by Josh Scott in 2003 in New Zealand. He is the son of the wine maker Allan Scott. This beer was aged in Pinot Noir casks.

10.2% abv over 100 IBUs – Cool looking corked and caged custom bottle.  Aged this one for over a year. Pours a jet black color with no head. Blend of dark chocolate, raisins, and coffee on the nose. Wow, this beer really has a full-bodied viscousness . The first sip delivers a  subtle blend of chocolate, cherries, currants, and espresso. The barrel aging gives it a slightly dry, sherry-like finish, which somehow balances off the full bodied mouthfeel. It gets more and more complex with each sip. Other flavors include orange zest, oak, and chocolate covered strawberries. The high alcohol is masked well, it sneaks up on you and kicks your ass. This is a fantastic beer, but I have read some pretty negative reviews of it. I have to chalk those up to improper storage and not aging it long enough. Patience is a virtue after all and it paid off here.