Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nebraska Brewing Company - Black Betty Imperial Stout-Reserve Series Aged in Whiskey Barrels

When you think of places in the country that have good craft beer, states like California, Oregon and North Carolina might come to mind. But what you might not know is that craft beer is a country-wide phenomenon. Just look at some of the states that are starting to produce great craft beer: Texas (Jester King and Shiner are just a few breweries in the state), Delaware (home of Dogfish Head) and Minnesota (home of Surly and many others) have all gotten into the act. However, there are some states that have been a little slower to adopt the craft brewing phenomenon, and these are states that I really don't expect to try beer from anytime soon unless I end up traveling to those areas. One of these states was Nebraska. But then I started noticing a few bottles popping up around town from a brewery called Nebraska Brewing Company.  And, you're not going to believe this, they're from Nebraska! After passing over their bottles because of their high price point a few times, I finally decided to give in and try one of their beers, Black Betty.

Black Betty is Nebraska Brewing Company's Russian Imperial Stout that has been aged in Stranahan's Whiskey barrels. The beer pours black as night with a noticeably thick consistency. A nice, full khaki head forms right away and stays at about a quarter inch above the beer, leaving thick streaks of lacing down the glass with each sip. Black Betty smells of medium roasted coffee, chocolate syrup, molasses, licorice and shows some faint sweet whiskey notes. A lot of beers that have been aged in whiskey or bourbon barrels show a ton of barrel notes on the nose, but this one was surprisingly (and nicely) restrained.

The taste opens a bit on the sweet side, with notes of chocolate cake, dark chocolate covered espresso beans and molasses. Then it progresses to a dryer middle and finish, featuring some charred wood, whiskey and burnt brownie flavors. The mouthfeel is near perfect, coating the mouth nicely while giving off a warming sensation from the over 9% ABV. Despite the heavier mouthfeel, the flavors hold up well and don't feel weighed down at all. I still don't know if I can justify the price, but this beer is an absolute keeper. If you're a fan of barrel aged stouts, this is right up there with the best. Go, Nebraska!

Final Grade: A

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 38

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