Thursday, September 6, 2012

IMPERIAL STOUT NIGHT: THE RECKONING


I know without a doubt that there are many of you out there in my daily reading audience of 30 who will regularly throw down a 22-ounce, 12% ABV imperial stout on a Monday night and have room left over for dinner. Hey, I've been that guy myself on many an occasion. Yet faced with a daunting collection of big-alcohol stouts sitting in my beer fridge, and feeling like they might have to sit for another few months while I worked up the gumption to knock them out one by one, I did what any good beer citizen might do. I invited over some pals, and polished off three imperial stout heavyweights, all in one night. You might call it A Reckoning of sorts.

Two of these – the east coast ones – came into Beer Samizdat HQ by virtue of a recent cross-country beer trade w/ Mark at the must-read drinking chronicle Kaedrin Beer Blog. The other, from Truckee, CA's FIFTY FIFTY BREWING, is something I dropped big coin on in a moment of weakness (or strength, take your pick). Quality glassware was lined up, snacks were poured into bowls, a bottle opener & a decorker were dug out of a drawer, and the reckoning began. Here's what we learned about these three ink-black killers:

VICTORY BREWING - "Dark Intrigue": This, as I understand it, is a beer that people wait in lines for – so kudos to Mark for being such a great American and finding me one. It's Victory's Storm King Stout – which I had once, years ago – aged in bourbon barrels from Jim Beam and Heaven Hill Distilleries. It's a little over 9% in alcohol, and it started our festivities in a great manner. Not too boozy, not too harsh, but definitely a big kick in the mouth. Vanilla, bourbon, lots of wood, and some aggressive piney hops. The sweetness takes over and balances it all out, and it was lip-smacking delicious across the board. One person voted this beer of the night; I had it in second place and rated it a 8/10.

FIFTY FIFTY BREWING - "Eclipse (Aged in 20-year Elijah Craig Bourbon Barrels)": There are many varieties of ECLIPSE, the much-loved imperial stout brewed at the excellent Fifty Fifty Brewing in Truckee. (Truth by told, I did NOT love the un-aged version of this beer when I had it back in 2009). They have a whole program that ages the beer in different types of oak bourbon barrels, for different lengths of time, and seeing what transpires. I asked Dave at Healthy Spirits beer store which one I should buy, and he "up-sold" me to this one, a whopping $28.99 for the 20-year Elijah Craig barreled version, saying "They're all great, and this one's the greatest". 'Ol Dave was spot-on. This was amazing!  Slick, creamy, not hot or tough to get through at all. Dangerously smooth and full of vanilla and oak flavor. 9/10.

VOODOO BREWING - "Big Black Voodoo Daddy": This too is aged, on something called "oak staves". You beardos probably know what that means – I don’t. This 12.5% ABV pound-packer was a big dropoff in quality to close out the session, and maybe that's not really all that fair. Consumed in isolation, this would probably be fine, but its comparative lack of flavor and nuance was all too obvious. More bitter and roasted coffee-tasting than the other two, with a thin body and non-creamy body. All were agreed that this placed a distant third in our "contest", though I thought enough of it to type 6/10 into my phone as I slid off my chair.

3 comments:

dontdrinkbeer.com said...

I took a bomber of Midnight Sun Berserker to the domepiece last night, alone. I doesn't afraid of anything.

http://dontdrinkbeer.com/2012/09/06/went-berkskerk-last-night/

Mark said...

Well... that sounds like a quite a night. I'm glad to have contributed and I'm also glad you survived!

beerocity said...

Nice blog! You just had a great night with your beer.