Brew Review: Bourbon Barrel Stout

2 Oct

Brew: Bourbon Barrel Stout

Brewed by: Central Waters Brewing Co. (Amherst, WI)

Style: Barrel Aged Imperial Stout (9.5% ABV)

Our fine neighbors to the east in Wisconsin make and drink a lot of beer.  Thankfully they don’t drink everything that they make so we here in Minnesota are able to get our hands on some of their wares.  I got this one recommended to me by a friend so I picked up two bottles, one for now and one for later.  This brew was bottled in December 2011 and I popped it open on 2-18-2012.  So this brew has a couple months of age on it, probably not at a peak time to drink it but I wanted a benchmark for that 2nd bottle I got.   However, bourbon barrel aged stouts I have found to be extremely enjoyable in the past so anytime is a good time to open up one of these goodies.

The brew poured out coal black.  Not quite midnight black but it had that tint of brown which made it less than pitch black.  Most imperial stouts I have run into tend to be in that pitch black category so I was somewhat surprised that this didn’t fit into that group as well.  There was a ½ inch light khaki head that faded quickly to leave a film of foam resting a top the brew.

The aroma was dominated by a couple things.  Vanilla, bourbon and sweet malts.  Not much else was able to squeeze through those 3 scents.  The bourbon and vanilla I think go hand in hand but what was nice is that the bourbon was muted and didn’t rage out at the observer but held back and took somewhat of a backseat to the other aromas.  Seemingly balanced the bourbon with everything else.

The taste on first ruling was well balanced.  The brew was thick, although not quite like a Darkness or Plead the 5th, which was pleasant but, I was left wanting a bit more in terms of body.  The bourbon was once again muted, for lack of a better word.  It didn’t overpower anything and was always present sort of like a chaperone at your first middle school dance.   Always there, you’re always aware of them but they don’t really overwhelm you in any way.  I really enjoyed how subtle the bourbon aspect was, it was a break from something like Dark Knight which was really heavy on the bourbon that in the end negatively affected the brew.  I didn’t pick up on any hops which was surprising since this brew was relatively fresh (2-3 months of age) and was an imperial stout which should by definition have a bunch of hop additions.  Maybe the barrel aging really quieted their presence. 

This was a well balanced beer and I really enjoyed the restrained touch of the bourbon within the stout. Could have used a bit more in terms of body but I really liked it.  Once it comes out again this year I know I am going to be searching it out.

Final Grade: A-

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