Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Prairie Artisan Ales - Apple Brandy Barrel Noir

I'm probably not the harshest critic out there, but I would say that it takes a lot for a brewery to gain my trust. There are just too many inconsistent breweries out there. But if you release solid beer after solid beer, it becomes harder to say no to your new offerings and you eventually approach the status of a brewery like Prairie, who I now find myself pretty much powerless to say no to.

From their criminally underrated Prairie Standard to their much talked about Bomb!, Oklahoma's Prairie Artisan Ales has made a pretty huge impact since storming into the craft beer scene a few years back. And with their goofy labels and impossible to resist merchandise (see pictured glass. Like I was going to say no to a dinosaur tasting glass...), their marketing alone makes them stand out from the rest of the craft beer crowd. But unlike so many others who have delivered in looks but stumbled in quality (looking your direction, Rogue), Prairie seems to deliver a fantastic product every time. Their latest offering is Apple Brandy Barrel Noir. And pretty much as soon as it was released, it hit the Top 250. At #209 (and heavily trending), Apple Brandy Barrel Noir.

Apple Brandy Barrel Noir pours a rich brown color that becomes almost charcoal once it settles in the glass. A creamy, mocha-colored head rises quickly and leaves some thick spackles of lace behind with each sip. The nose is an otherworldly blend of rich, dense and spicy oak barrel notes, a good dose of sweet apple brandy with just a touch of heat and some baker's chocolate. There's just a hint of caramelized pear in there as well.

Upfront, you get a good smack of apple brandy with just a slimmer of heat. Behind that, there's a great charred barrel note, burned brownies, fudge, roasted malt and a dry, slightly boozy finish. The mouthfeel is medium and just a touch slick. Overall, just a beautiful look at what barrel aging can do to a beer. Prairie strikes again!

Final Grade: A

Top 250 Beers Tasted: 115