2014 Slumbrew Yankee Swap (Somerville Brewing Company)

Style: Imperial Stout aged in Turkey Shore Rum Barrels

12% ABV

68 IBU’s

*Beer Aged for One Year in my cellar*

From: Brewer based in Somerville, MA but beer brewed in Ipswich, MA

Brewery’s Note: “This 2014 imperial stout is the SECOND EDITION in our Yankee Swap series. It’s aged in Turkey Shore Distilleries rum barrels to create a unique flavor profile that continues to develop with time. A perfect accompaniment to holiday doldrums, in-laws or all bouts of holiday boredom. If you collect bottles, we suggest you cellar a second bottle or two of this ale to serve with next year’s edition of our Yankee Swap./ This 2014 imperial stout is the SECOND EDITION in our Yankee Swap series. It’s aged in Turkey Shore Distilleries run barrels to create a unique flavor profile that continues to develop with time. A perfect accompaniment to holiday doldrums, in-laws or all bouts of holiday boredom. If you collect bottles, we suggest you cellar a second bottle or two of this ale to serve with next year’s edition of our Yankee Swap.”

The beer pours a muddy, deep brown, more in the lines of an imperial brown ale than a stout to my eye. The beer pours with thin wisps and a scrim of pale mocha-frappe bubbles. It leaves polka dots of lacing surrounded by shimmering lagoons of legs. The sheeting is a spatter curtain, loosely held together and slick on the edges of the glass. The beer is decidedly opaque, but it appears thinner, and more water-like in appearance than I am used to in the style, especially for 12% ABV. On the nose, the beer smells of oxidized caramels oozing over nutty bread with thick toffee melding with a touch of meatiness, milk chocolate, nougat, and some cardboard. The nose is lush and unique, drawing lots of nuttiness from the rum barrel (I think). It’s complex and different, but there are lingering bits of funkiness on the edges of the scent that seem a little off with the rest of the smell. On the tongue, the beer tastes surprisingly acidic, almost tart. There is mellow sweetness that moves from chocolate to oat bread with a touch of sweeter maple syrup, marshmallow, and then a dark fruit acidity with some sweetness that moves from subtle raspberry to fuller cherry and leather, almost like a Flanders red. The finish is dry with coffee roast and slight herbal bitters. Traces of alcoholic heat and bitter spice also laces the finish, and then a syrupy sweetness ends carrying earthy fungus. In the mouth, the beer feels on the thin side of full, the carb is languid and falls off the tongue as the fatness of the finish oozes over the palate. When the beer leaves, the back of the palate feels like it is still oozing off the tongue, while mild spittle coats the tongues top. Overall, this is not a bad beer, and the stout portion of it has some nice strong characteristics, but some funk has definitely found its way in to the beer. I’m thinking at least a nice bit of brett musk is building, and in a year or two we should start seeing full on “dark sour” characteristics. Hopefully, it continues funking nicely, but with any infection that is a risk. The funk isn’t bad, but it doesn’t seem to sit with the base of the beer, which could lead to bad things. I definitely liked 2013 Yankee Swap more, but then again, I had that one fresh… I love the Yankee Swap series though, and Slumbrew is doing fantastic stuff. This beer was made just as they were ramping up and moving into their new space in Somerville, and even with the flaws, it’s far from a drain pour. It is just different. Moral of the story, it is Christmas Eve. Enjoy, sip, repeat.

 

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