As I mentioned in my review of Urban Chestnut’s Thrale’s, I’m in St. Louis for the holidays and we’re at International Tap House (iTap) in Soulard to watch the Mizzou-Illinois basketball game. We’ve already had a couple of beers while watching the game, as well as some awesome BBQ from Bogart’s down the street. I wanted to go for a local beer I couldn’t get elsewhere, and this looked like the best option on the menu. According to the menu, it’s an imperial stout aged in Buffalo Trace barrels for 4 months.
Location: On tap and served in a snifter glass at International Tap House (iTap) in Soulard in St. Louis, MO.
Numbers: 9.5% ABV, 300 Calories
Appearance & Aroma: It’s black in color and I couldn’t see much light through it when I held up my cell phone behind it. It’s got a thin, brownish head with soap-like bubbles around the edge of the glass. There’s an obvious roasted charred oak and boozy aroma.
Taste & Feel: The body was medium and the mouthfeel was mostly smooth, but a bit crisp from the carbonation in it. The flavors up front were roasty sweet, but it didn’t take long for the charred oak barrel and boozy bourbon flavors to kick in. There was a good balance of boozy flavors and roasted oak and grains in the middle, but the charred oak tannins and roasted coffee flavors came through more in the finish. The aftertaste was roasted oak and booziness with some nice alcohol warmth.
Food Pairing: This is a very flavorful beer with lots of roasty and boozy flavors. It would definitely go perfectly with a less-rich chocolate dish – such as a chocolate cake or brownie – helping to temper the flavors in the beer a bit. For a main course, this would be a very manly addition to a thick, seasoned steak and a cigar.
Overall Impression: I’m a big fan of Russian Imperial stouts and bourbon barrel aging, so I’m a bit partial and critical of this style. Overall, I thought this beer had a very nice balance of roasted, charred oak character from the barrel and boozy character from the bourbon. However, I felt like it could have had a bit more body to it, and it had a bit more of a boozy flavor than actual bourbon flavor (like I tasted in the Elliot Bay Heaven Hills Bourbon Barrel Russian Imperial Stout I had a couple months ago). I also like the charred oak tannins to come through a bit smoother, and feel like it could have benefited from a bit more aging. It was still a good beer that I’d definitely have again if given the chance, as I hope Cathedral Square will continue their barrel program.