Punctilious Beer Review: BARREL AGED STOUT FEST!!!
Alright folks, a little different format for this one. I don’t think this will be an exactly permanent thing, but I need to churn out some reviews so I can drink more beer (it’s a good problem, let’s be honest). So for this Punctilious Review, I am doing four beers alongside each other, that’s right FOUR! These are all barrel aged stouts, and were all had during the same session (don’t worry I didn’t drink whole beers, I had help from my family). If you have ever read one of my punctilious beer reviews and thought to yourself “man that was amazing, I wish there were three more of these combined into one!!!” Then congrats! this is for you! Hopefully this will be as fun for you as it was for me to drink them! Hold tight, and welcome to a special edition of the Punctilious Review series: STOUT FEST!
(1) - Double Barrel Big Bad Baptist
(2) - Lizard of Koz
(3) - Bourbon County Brand Stout
(4) - KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)
(1) - Epic Brewing Company
(2) - Founders Brewing Company
(3) - Goose Island Beer Co.
(4) - Founders Brewing Company
Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
(1) - 12.8%
(2) - 10.5%
(3) - 13.8%
(4) - 12.4%
(1) - 11/5/16 (Release #2)
(2) - Unknown (Aprox. 11/15/16)
(3) - 10/4/16
(4) - 2/12/16
Other Recommended Reviewed Beers:
Dark Lord, Heavy Boots of Lead, Dessert
(1) - How do you take a beer as bold as Big Bad Baptist and make it even better? You go all in, LOCK, STOCK, and BARREL! We’ve aged green Ethiopian Coffee Beans in whiskey barrels and hand selected the best Baptist casks for a double blast of bourbon barrel character. Pull the trigger on this extremely limited release and remember to age one for a SIDE BY SIDE next year.
(2) - This one is near and dear to our hearts. Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki wanted to make the birthday of his little sister, Liz, a special one. So he did what he does best and brewed a stout using a few of her favorite ingredients: fresh Michigan blueberries, rich chocolate and vanilla aged in bourbon barrels to round out those beautiful flavors. Liz was floored and we think you will be too.
(3) - Intense aromas of charred oak, vanilla, caramel, and smoke. Develops in the bottle up to 5 years.
(4) - What we’ve got here is an imperial stout brewed with a massive amount of coffee and chocolates, then cave-aged in oak bourbon barrels for an entire year to make sure wonderful bourbon undertones come through in the finish. Makes your taste buds squeal with delight.
Review Date: 12/27/16
Poured From: Bottle
(1) - Rating: 88/100 - “excellent”
(2) - Rating: 40/100 - “fair”
(3) - Rating: 72/100 - “very good”
(4) - Rating: 83/100 - “excellent”
(1) - Aroma: 9/10
To sniff an Imperial Stout, is to sniff the beer of the Gods. The style lends itself to complexity even without being experimented on, just the elements needed to create a basic beer of the style create complexity by themselves. Then add on the fact that the style lends itself exceptionally well to experimentation in not only the brewing but also the aging process, results in complexity and subtleness that is simply unobtainable in 99% of beer styles out there. Now, getting away from me waking poetic about a style of beer and back to the task at hand… This beer is swimming in the ‘typical’ aromas of an imperial, those of toast, caramel, coffee, and chocolate. But this one is separating itself slightly with something unexpected, a very nice spice smell of cloves and those other Thanksgiving-y spices (cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg). There is a slightly over bearing scent of alcohol, which I think will be a common theme in today’s reviews due to the fact that they are Imperials, let alone aged in bourbon barrels.
(2) - Aroma: 6/10
Alright, this one is light, there is a nice smell of blueberries, and that dark fruit smell (plums, grapes, passion fruit, etcetera). The overwhelming aroma from this however is booze, unbalancedly so. I’m not sure if I just didn’t pour this aggressively enough, but I just can’t coax much of a nose out of this beer, which is unfortunate because I like me some fruity stouts.
(3) - Aroma: 8/10
Now we are back to a much more traditional stout aroma. A nice chocolate smell, more of a sweeter milk chocolate on this one, but not overwhelming in the nose. There is a very present smoke smell presumably from the barrel, it is a nice way to finish a nice big whiff of this beer. There is also a subtle licorice smell, that nice star anise aroma is a great addition to the nose of the beer.
(4) - Aroma: 8/10
I’m concerned, right off the batt I am getting a chemical overtone of the aroma. But I’m happy because it fades almost instantly and really blossoms into a great smelling stout. There is a lot of that toasty and oak from the whiskey, and also a lot of great molasses aromas coming out of the glass. It is finishing with a nice subtle roasty nutty aroma, if you have ever roasted nuts in your own house, then you know the scent that I’m talking about. That nice buttery body of the nuts with a follow through of that smoky toasty smell. However the hell one describes it, it smells good.
(1) - Appearance: 10/10
It’s dark… not sure really what else I’m going to say about these beers. This one does have a nice head going for it, the color of a nice double-double coffee from Dunks (two creams, two sugar coffee from Dunkin Donuts for those of you that aren’t versed in a weird combination of Canadian and New England culture such as I am). The pour was a small one (probably for the better as it comes to the quality of these reviews), so the head wasn’t large, but it was a good 10-20% of the height of the overall pour. In the end, I’m going to be honest, it looks like an Imperial Stout.
(2) - Appearance: 7/10
This one isn’t actually overly dark, light is being allowed through it, granted it is probably the equivalent light that is available at the bottom of a mine shaft, but light is there none the less. There is a very airy caramel head lingering on the top of the beer. It actually has an interesting dark red, almost purple tint to the beer, and the head for that matter. The look of the beer has me interested but at the same time concerned because that isn’t exactly how an Imperial Stout is supposed to look.
(3) - Appearance: 9/10
News FLASH! The beer is dark. The head as fairly non-existent, a dusting of cream bubbles on the top of the beer. Leading me to hope that the beer is carbonated to a level that I really am looking for in a stout, a level of nearly flat.
(4) - Appearance: 9/10
The head is a bit lighter in color than the previous three stouts, more of an off-white than a cream. That being said the head is very light in body as well, barely making itself present. The beer itself is, shock of all shocks, dark. This stout looks very stout-like (which is the sort of mind-blowing journalism you have hopefully come to expect on this blog!).
(1) - Flavor: 9/10
Oh man… wow… Loads of that toasty roasty taste, complimented nicely with the coffee notes. A note on that coffee note: often times when something is brewed with coffee the only flavor you really get out of it is that bitter roasted flavor, this is absolutely not the case here, there are loads of the wonderful fruity tastes that can come with high quality coffee, it is VERY appreciated. This beer is also giving me a very nice chocolate flavor, but not like a Hersey Kiss chocolate flavor, but a much more complex and bitter flavor that you find in a high percentage dark chocolate. A strong smoke flavor, which kind of surprises me, but I’m okay with it because it fits nicely into the beer. Then the finish is primarily that whiskey barrel flavor combination of oak buttery-ness, tannins, and the boozy whiskey. Fantastic tasting beer.
(2) - Flavor: 3/10
Oh gosh… this is… different? I’ll start with the good notes, there is a ton of of those sweet dark fruits, raisins, prunes, blueberries, and dates. The beer actually finishes a tad sour, which is odd, but I like it, I’m guessing that is attached with the blueberry flavor that is ever present. All of that being said, I’m really down on this beer. The beer is absurdly sweet, which is not a good thing, it is overtaking the beer at every turn, I am trying to pull out a raisin flavor and BOOM! sweetness. But the number one thing that is just not doing it for me with this beer is the way that the alcohol plays with the overall profile of the beer. Because of all the sweetness and fruit flavors, as soon as you add alcohol to those the overwhelming flavor becomes that of medicine. There is just an awful NyQuil flavor that is everywhere, you can’t hide from it or maneuver around it, it’s just IN YOUR FACE. Not a good profile.
(3) - Flavor: 7/10
The start of the beer is all the smoke that was in the nose. The body consists of all the stout flavors that you are looking for, molasses, caramel, and vanilla (the first stout in this batch to have a discernible vanilla flavor which is odd seeing as it is probably the most common flavor descriptor for barrel aged stouts). Where this beer is leaving me wanting is the finish. After the great body of the beer, the slightly overwhelming alcohol flavor starts to come out, a combination of the alcohol in the actual beer, and the lingering alcohol of the bourbon barrels. Then there is a cherry flavor that makes itself present, and as some of you may know I love me some cherries, but not this type of cherry. The cherry taste that the beer is finishing with isn’t that of a freshly picked cherries, a taste that would have been a fantastic addition to this flavor profile, but instead it is that plastic-y cherry flavor found in Maraschino Cherries, and a very slight medicinal flavor from it (though not nearly as much as the previous beer). The body makes me want to have another sip, but the finish is making me question that. It tastes young, and that harshness on the finish would most likely disappear after some months conditioning in the bottle for what it’s worth.
(4) - Flavor: 8/10
Lots of coffee in this one, but as opposed to beer #1, this coffee is much more of that stereotypical roast flavor and less of that fruity flavor. One way to describe it is that this beer is much more of a Maxwell House coffee flavor as opposed to a single-farm sourced artisan roasted coffee, and with that I just hit an all time low in “douchy-est things ever to come out of Tim’s head”. The other flavor in this beer is that of chocolate, and this time like beer #1 it is very much that really nice quality dark chocolate type of flavor. The finish is, no surprise if you’ve lasted this far in this behemothly long review of these four beers, whiskey… It isn’t an overly powerful whiskey flavor, which is nice, but that boozy flavor does make an appearance. Overall the last is most balanced, yet I would say is the least complicated profile of all four of these beers.
(1) - Feel: 8/10
This is a nice feeling beer, starting off exceptionally heavy in your mouth, but then thinning out to a nicely manageable drink. The beer is a bit more carbonated than I would like, which leads to a little bit of a sharpness on the tongue that is off-putting. This beer would do well from a mouth-feel perspective to condition in the bottle for a little bit, it is screaming to me that it’s a young beer (that’s right, beers speak to me, deal with it).
(2) - Feel: 3/10
The mouth feel of this beer is a continuation of the flavors. It is simply too sweet. The overall flavor complexity is simply not there so it comes off as thin. Then the finish of the pharmaceutical feeling is just not pleasant.
(3) - Feel: 7/10
There is an astringency to this beer, the whiskey flavor is actually contributing a burn much like the burn of a younger whiskey would leave you with. The beer itself is very thick in the mouth, and finishes very dry, again with that artificial sharpness that would probably tone down with age.
(4) - Feel: 8/10
This is a smooth beer. There is not an overwhelming feel to it, and I could easily drink an entire bottle by myself. That being said there are the slightest of off feelings to it, with the presence of a very slight astringency. It has the right amount of carbonation, in my opinion, for a stout, which is low. It also finishes nice and dry. A clean beer to finish off the tasting flight.
(1) - Overall: 8/10
Listen, the beer is good, it’s just not… mind-blowingly good. The beer is a very well structured stout, it was a little heavy on the booze from the barrel aging process, which means it wasn’t a beer boozy-ness but instead much more of that whiskey boozy-ness, and I love me some whiskey don’t get me wrong, it just seemed too much here.
(2) - Overall: 3/10
Ugh, I don’t really know what to say about the beer… A swing and a miss I guess.
(3) - Overall: 6/10
The beer was a nice thick stout. There was lots of that whiskey flavor that I personally don’t enjoy to that level, but I know that a lot of people seek that flavor profile out. The beer was good and I would drink it again, but it wasn’t anything that was ‘pray to a higher being’ good, or even ‘write home about’ good. Good, not great.
(4) - Overall: 9/10
This is a good beer. There is an aggressive whiskey taste, which is not my cup of tea in a beer, but it still doesn’t overtake the beer. I would say that this is the most well made stout of the group as it fits together the best, however it still feels simplistic. One great thing about this beer is that it seems to not be falling victim to the young-ness of the previous three, I think it could still use some time in the bottle but is pretty close to being in top condition.
(1) - Closing Thoughts:
It’s hard nit-picking these great beers, but at the same time there are a TON of great beers out there. I think that someone should for sure try this beer if they haven’t and they get a chance, I just don’t know if I would consistently seek it out. I might be drinking this too young, but gosh darn it I’m impatient, maybe I should try to age some more beer, and this would be a prime candidate, but you know what? YOLO… That’s right, I’m a millennial and though that’s something I’m not proud of, sometimes they hit it on the head, YOLO… I also feel a little bad when reviewing stouts, I’m lucky enough for my first TRUE stout experience was 3 Floyds Dark Lord, and frankly there is no coming back from that, once you’ve tasted the best of something it becomes all you want and becomes the bar that all others are judged against. Which I acknowledge is probably unfair to these stouts, but you know what? YOLO bitches…
(2) - Closing Thoughts:
This beer left little to be desired for me. I hate saying this because I have an exceptional soft spot in my heart for Founders. I picked this beer up with the expectation that it would be good, simply because it would be weird, and frankly Founders usually does weird EXCEPTIONALLY well. But not here, I just couldn’t get over the medicine flavors. From what I can tell this is very much a love/hate it beer, there are a lot of people out there that I’ve talked to that really enjoyed it, but then there are also the same amount of people who, like me, did not. Nobody at my tasting enjoyed it much, so I’m not sure if it is just a bottle to bottle thing, but frankly I won’t buy another bottle to find out. Listen, I’m not going to tell you to NOT buy this beer, especially if you are into that heavy fruit flavor in a stout, but at the same time I’m probably going to caution you before buying.
(3) - Closing Thoughts:
I always have a hard time with the Bourbon County… There are loads of zealous followers of this beer, but I just never really get that excited about it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I would turn down a bottle (though to be fair a beer would have to be REALLY bad for me to turn down a bottle), but I’m not sure if I would buy a full bottle for myself. Again I feel like this review should have a slight caveat, in that the beer itself was fairly young. I would love to try out a Bourbon County that has been aged for another year or two, so if anyone has one lying around I’ll gladly accept it!
(4) - Closing Thoughts:
KBS, the saving grace for Founders in this review session. A great beer, and one that I know has gotten more than a few people into the world of barrel aged stouts. It didn’t quit beat out the Big Bad Baptist for me during this session, but I would gladly buy more of this beer. I think that it benefited from being the oldest beer on the list, but I also think that a bottle of relative same age to the other three beers would score just as well. A great drinking beer, especially for the stout lovers out there. Founders continually does fantastically by this beer (among others), and should be applauded for such.
So that has been Punctilious Beer Review: STOUT FEST, I hope you enjoyed it, actually I hope you have simply made it this far, if so congrats! There is no prize per say, but give yourself a nice pat on the back on my behalf. If you just jumped down here to skip to the “overall” portion, then screw you, leave, let the real beer nerds live in peace.