The latest from the “Heavy Hitter Series” offered up from Lagunitas. The Press Release from Lagunitas speaks volumes towards the style of the beer and the attention to detail put into the mix and blending of the beer.
“Our friends over at Kentucky’s own Willett Distillery have one kind of barrel: wood. And they put two things in them: Bourbon and Rye. We were fortunate enough to get some of their Bourbon barrels, and we put our Imperial Stout in them. It’s a chocolatey, coffee-y, smoky, Bourbon-y beast of a barrel-aged thing.”
Poured from a 12oz bottle, served in a tulip glass The pour really showcases the dark black body yet is balanced with a one and half finger thick off-white head with good retention and lots of lacing. Smell is sweet whiskey, light smoke, and medium char, a touch of roasted barley, backed up with a mild coffee astringency (not in the bad way), milk chocolate, touch of dark fruit. As the beer warms it definitely changes to be on the sweeter side. A bit spicy and a slight warming sensation from the whiskey but for the most part follows the flavor. Mouthfeel is thick, full bodied and creamy, nicely carbonated and smooth. The taste is thick whiskey and strong coffee with a butter chocolate finish.
Looks like a nice stout should with a black body and a dense head with a sheet of lacing. Smells of acidic coffee, whisky, barrel, and alcohol. The alcohol is really strong in the flavor and that affects my enjoyment of this stout. I cannot really enjoy the coffee or get a sense of what the base stout flavors are like. The whisky is more subtle in the beginning but as the beer warms up the whiskey really starts to warm up as well. I think this beer would of been better without the coffee so I could let this beer age a few years to mellow out the alcohol. But this is a coffee beer and it needs to be consumed fresh.
Overall, a solid body to a big beer, and although the coffee is a bit strong and bitter I would have liked the coffee to come out a bit more than it did here. An impressive effort from Lagunitas with superb balance and a heavy whiskey feel in the finish but will be interesting top see where this goes over the next 6-12 months.