It’s been a pretty relaxing holiday break, and I spent most of the day watching Mizzou basketball and the college football bowl games. As I’ve been looking into my beer cellar, I’m realizing there are a lot of great beers, but I’m not sure how much longer several of them will last. So, after having the Full Sail Black Gold vintages, I thought I’d try one of these Deschutes barrel aged beers. The label says, “Imperial stout brewed with black strap molasses, licorice, cherry bark with vanilla added, aged 12 months in rye whiskey barrels.”
Location: Poured from the wax sealed 22oz bottle into a TEKU style pint glass at my home in Bloomington, IL.
Numbers: 13.2% ABV, ~420 Calories
Appearance & Aroma: It’s deep black in color with no light visible when held up to the light. It has a finger-thick creamy brown head on it. It has a roasty malt aroma with hints of dark cherry and coffee.
Taste & Feel: The body is very full and viscous and the mouthfeel is very smooth and lightly oily. The flavor up front is sweet and malty with dark chocolate and black cherry flavors with hints of black licorice. In the middle, the vanilla comes in and makes the chocolate flavors taste more milk chocolatey. A licorice-like bitterness strikes at the beginning of the finish and gives way to a dark chocolate and dark malty sweetness that lasts for a couple minutes in the aftertaste, along with a nice alcohol warmth in the throat.
Food Pairing: This is another rich, big beer that would go great with a solid meal, like a steak, or would complement a chocolate dessert. With the dark chocolate and fruit flavors, I think it could also be an interesting contrast with smoked meats as well.
Overall Impression: I’ve had several bourbon barrel aged imperial stouts lately (tis the season), especially the Full Sail Black Gold vintages, so it’s hard not to compare them to each other. This had a complex flavor with a mix of licorice, malt, and chocolate flavors. However, I was a bit disappointed with the lack of bourbon or barrel character this seemed to have. While it was good overall, I wanted a bit more bourbon booziness from it.