Monday, August 4, 2014
Let's say you have the good fortune of being a ridiculously talented brewery. But there's one curve life throws your way- you have to live in Anchorage, Alaska, a place where the average daytime temperature in the winter is somewhere between 5-30 degrees Fahrenheit. How would that setting affect the beers you put out? You think you might get pretty good at making really big imperial stouts?
Midnight Sun has been located in Anchorage for nearly 20 years and in that time, they've crafted quite the lineup of imperial stouts. From an imperial pumpkin porter that changed pumpkin beers for me forever (T.R.E.A.T.) to the closest thing to an Abyss clone I've ever come across (Berserker), Midnight Sun has making big stouts down. Luckily for me, they finally decided to remake the one stout in their lineup that had been evading me for years, Bar Fly. This imperial stout is brewed with smoked malt, molasses and brown sugar and then aged in bourbon barrels. Let's check this one out.
Bar Fly pours like molasses syrup, slowly chugging out of the bottle and plopping into the glass. The pitch black liquid slowly churns out a muddy brown head that sluggishly peaks at about a half finger and then draws back down into the muck. A rich curtain of milk chocolate colored lace is left behind with each sip. This beer may be "only" 11.6%, but it looks about 30%. I love it. A deep aroma of molasses, charred barrel, light raisin and prune, dark chocolate covered cherries, milk chocolate, chocolate covered malt balls and just a touch of smoke and ash meets you as soon as you muster up the courage to get near this one.
I wouldn't say this beer tastes quite as good as it smells or looks, but this beer is still pretty special. The taste opens with some milk chocolate and some plum and dark cherry. Molasses, burnt raisin skin and some mocha creep in around the middle. The finish brings kind of a strange dark cherry skin sourness, which I was not expecting at all, alongside just a touch of smokiness and bittersweet chocolate.
Trying this beer after so many years of wanting to try this beer left me wanting to know what the original version tasted. This version was aged in bourbon barrels while the original was aged in red wine barrels, but other than that, these beers should have been the same. For me, this beer was a touch strange in that the two things I was expecting to dominate the beer, smoked malt and bourbon, never really showed up at all. Instead, this beer tasted very similar to another great Midnight Sun beer, Moscow, but with a sort of off-tasting sour dark fruit flavor lingering on the finish that brought it down a notch for me. Overall, though, this is yet another stout from Midnight Sun that is very worth the attention. I can't wait to see what bone these guys throw my way next.
Final Grade: A-
Top 250 Beers Tasted: 126