Finback Brewery, BQE Imperial Chocolate Stout, Queens, NY
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!
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.
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!
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 asubtle 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.