Friday, December 9, 2011

Bourbon Barrel Stout (Odell Brewing, Fort Collins, CO)

Poured a bit hard into a pint glass, the 10.5% ABV imperial stout piles up high with a tan, thick, rocky head that looks like foamy snow drifts after a storm.  Dark black body that's opaque except for fleeting dark maroon highlights that appear with a strong back light.  Nose seems a little subdued, but a quick swirl opens up a very pleasant roast that predominates over bourbon, alcohol hotness, light hop spice and oak.  Creamy roast taste to start the beer, and a clean spice with caramel, malt and vanilla. Odell website description includes coffee, but I get it only after reading it.  For an imperial stout, it has a prickly mouthfeel, seemingly from a carbonic bite which contributes to the very strong head formation.  Letting the bottle warm up while open, the top-off pour forms a more stable and tightly bubbled head.  Might be a bit over-carbonated in the bottle.  Oak off the back of the tongue with a sting of bourbon.

As this beer warms, the dark fruit, especially cherry notes, come out of hiding.  Didn't notice the fruit flavors at all when colder--a solid argument for drinking beer slowly.  A strong beer should improve as it warms--an important trait for big beers for me.  However, for this beer, the mouthfeel thins and the alcohol becomes very hot in the nose with the increased temperature causing the balance to worsen and become acrid.   Nothing is wrong with this imperial stout per se, but tonight's pint lacks a certain pizzazz. Well worth the price of admission for a good beer that won't become a cult hero.

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