Friday, March 28, 2014

Stone Brewing Company - Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Russian Stout, 2 Ways

Stone's a bit of an odd brewery in that, for as long as I've been a fan, they've never really had a big barrel-aging program OR a sour program. I say this is odd because it seems like the majority of trending breweries out there have at least one of the two. If you're not a brewery that does barrel aging or sours, you'd better be pretty good at something else to stay popular. And Stone is good at something: Hops. But even as they keep cranking out great IPA after great IPA, they've been experimenting with barrels.

Stone began the Quingenti Millilitre series last year and released nine beers in the series in 2013 alone. Each beer was barrel aged, with the majority spending time in bourbon barrels. Which raised the logical Stone fanboy question: "So the Imperial Russian Stout is part of the program, right?" But last year passed with no sign of a barrel aged Imperial Russian Stout. Were they content with letting the mystique of the remaining barrel aged Imperial Russian Stout that's still out there linger? Or were they still haunted by the debacle that occurred 2 years ago when they released the beer, only to have to recall it immediately for quality issues? Turns out (luckily for yours truly) neither. Stone finally decided to re-release the Barrel Aged Imperial Russian Stout again this year, and it brought a friend- Barrel-Aged Espresso Imperial Russian Stout. Ummmm, boing! Let's dig in.

Stone Brewing Company - Fyodor's Classic (AKA Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Russian Stout)

Fyodor's Classic pours a used motor oil colored black and consistency, with a half-finger tan head that disappears back into the black pretty quickly. The bourbon shy need not apply here. The second you stick your nose near this beer, you get smashed in the face by huge notes of bourbon, charred oak and heavily roasted malt. If there's any sweetness to be found in here, it shows in the barest trace of vanilla and toffee, but they're quickly chased off by an angry mob of bourbon, anise and wet earth.

The taste opens with a wave of roasted malt and bourbon that absolutely bulldoze your sorry palate. The assault continues in the middle, where you're met with burnt coffee, charred wood and unsweetened baking chocolate. The finish rounds things out with some burnt fudge and a final dose of pure bourbon that's dry and lingering. This beer is unashamedly brash, undeniably huge and unquestionably awesome. 100% worth the wait.

Final Grade: A

Stone Brewing Company - Mikhail's Odd (AKA Bourbon Barrel-Aged Espresso Imperial 
 Russian Stout)

There was an approximate 0% chance of this beer sucking. How could it? The words "bourbon," "espresso," and "stout" just feel like they're supposed to be together. Oh, and they put a cat on the bottle. Like I said, 0% chance this was going to suck.

Mikhail's Odd pours black with a one finger khaki colored head that drops pretty quickly. The smell of bourbon was toned down a touch here, but the espresso was not. Even with almost a year in a barrel, the smell of espresso was remarkably strong. Under the espresso and bourbon notes were some vanilla, caramel, toffee, bourbon-laced oak, char and tobacco.

Similar to the standard version, Mikhail's Odd hits you right away with a pretty huge hit of bourbon. The bourbon carries through the middle of the beer, where it's matched by an equally impressive amount of espresso. The finish brings the barest touch of sweetness with some burnt espresso, fudge and burnt brownies. Even with that, the beer stays pretty dry throughout and the bourbon and espresso together are (as Salad Fingers would say) practically orgasmic. Stone absolutely killed it with Fyodor's Classic, but the espresso really takes it to another level. Awesome work, Stone.

Final Grade: A+

Top 250 Beers Tasted: 134

1 comment:

  1. Wow, those two beers sound fantastic! When you describe a beer as "motor oil", I know I will love it!