Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
Malt: 2-Row, Munich, Chocolate, Caramel, Roast Barley, Debittered Black
Brewer’s Note: “Brewed in honor of the 1000th batch at our original Clybourn brewpub. A liquid as dark and dense as a black hole with thick foam the color of a bourbon barrel. The nose is an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. One sip has more flavor than your average case of beer”
The beer’s label is classy, like a high class whisky label, or a funky wine label. The fonts are crisp and fancy, and while they are a little too varied for my taste. The barrel logo at the bottom is a nice touch, and I love how they clearly mark the vintage on the bottles. This and many other facts make these bottles prime for aging. This bottle is sleek and appealing to the eyes, and is definitely worthy of the shelf.
The beer pours a midnight black, like motor oil. The beer appears thick and viscous, and forms a very small head of dark, oak-colored bubbles that quickly fizzle away to just a scrim. In body, the beer is opaque and impenetrable to the eye, though presumably free of particles. When swirled against the sides of the glass, the beer leaves a lovely set of legs. On the nose, this beer is boozy with dark chocolate, a touch of dark roast coffee, oak, vanilla, and chocolate covered raisins running across the nostrils. Soft toasted coconut and a touch of pralines and toffee also make it into the rich nose of this beer, but at its base, this beer is all about the boozy bourbon character which comes through beautifully. I’m getting the sense of a boozy, chocolate covered pretzel for some reason… On the tongue, the beer tastes boozy hot, and sweet with a drying boozy finish. The heat begins a little too hot but is smoothed out by the chocolate sweetness, while mild tannins dance at the finish alongside a roast bitterness, and just a hint of hop bitters as well before the booze makes one last hurrah. In flavor, the beer begins briefly as hot fusel alcohol, morphing into rich and boozy bourbon it develops flavors of vanilla and oak and then the stout comes through giving dark chocolate, raisins, molasses, and then chocolate milk flavors. The finish is hot with alcohol while mild tannic wood presses through alongside slight charred smoke, the finish eventually unfolds further stout characteristics, but only after the heat has moved down the gullet. A touch of char comes through in the aftertaste. In the mouth, the beer feels perfect for the style. It is richly full in body, like milk or even heavy cream, with a soft carbonation that is nearly nonexistent. Mouthfeel is velvety smooth and silky with a thick chewiness that completes the beer. After the beer leaves, the mouth is left tingly with alcoholic burn, yet dry with only hints of salivation at the sides of the mouth. Overall, this is BCBS, a classic of the Bourbon Barrel Aged Stouts, and it is a great beer. I personally would sit on my bottle for a little while longer as the heat is a little too hot for me right now. The beer is rich in everything you want from a barrel aged stout, though, and is a damn fine beer. This is a whale worth hunting down.
4/5, 42/50 BJCP, A- in Style