Me and Jeff (@juffage) had another one of our little bottle shares tonight. Jeff, being an American, always has a good supply of bottles from the US that I'm always interested to try. I always have a good supply of aging beers that Jeff's always interested to try. It only makes sense that we get together every now and again to drink some of these beers together, bringing beers from both sides of the pond to join in epic beer geekery.
Jeff brought out the big guns from the states in the form of a Dark Intrigue - a 75cl bottle of Bourbon Barrel aged Imperial Stout (Storm King) from Victory Brewing. As Jeff had never tried these two; I brought a Thomas Hardy's Ale from 2006 and a Harvey's Imperial Extra Double Stout from 2003.
Appearance: Thick caramels, Brandy like in observation.
Nose: Huge on the honeycomb, almost like mead. Plenty of booze. Burnt caramels and treacle with lots of apple and orange fruitiness.
Taste: Tonnes of toffee. A small hint of aniseed and plenty of meaty flavour (that word umani or umnie or whatever...) Possible raspberry flavour is mixed with candy sugars and loads of burnt brown sugar sweetness, which is a little cloying. Some whisky and Brandy flavour is there to remind you of the power of this beer.
"It was the most beautiful colour that the eye of an artist in beer could desire; full in body, yet brisk as a volcano; piquant, yet without a twang; luminous as an autumn sunset."
- you don't see descriptions on beer labels like that these days.... and I especially like the part where it states you should leave the bottle standing "for 48 hours to allow settling" before serving if disturbed.
Appearance: Liquid coal, like looking at a block of solid jet.
Nose: Scorched leather, crispy burnt beef, soy sauce and smoked tires.
Taste: On first evaluation it's probably a little oxidized, but it's really not putting us off. The body seems to be thick and chewy but light at the same time. It's like drinking a blend of beef jerky that's been soaked in soy sauce - just incredible! There is a bit of sweetness about it, but it's a very Port-esk beer.
This beer is nothing short of legendary, historic, epic and epically strange. I must insist that anyone who hasn't tried this beer; find it.
Appearance: It pours with an interesting looking layered head.
Nose: Smells like a vanilla ice cream and cola float, with s'mores blended in, topped with coconut.
Taste: "candy medicine" was Jeff's first observation. It's a lot like a watered down Bourbon which masks pretty much everything else. Some sickly sweet oaky resin, it's a weird beer indeed. I'm pretty confident this is how the beer is meant to be, and unfortunately it's just a bit of a mess. It's a real shame, as Jeff and I were very exited about this beer, and it took some effort and time to get it here. Unfortunately it just didn't hit the spot..
It's 2 - 0 to Britain I'm afraid...
I said this sounded like a good idea, and it does... Bourbon Barrel Aged Storm King sounds great, but like many things that sound great - sometimes they don't end up how you expected them to. I've had quite a few Bourbon aged beers over the last couple of years, and I've been disapointed more times than I've been impressed - and don't even get me started on rum aged beers! In my opinion, if you're going for barrel aging; stick with the Whisky casks, specifically: Highland casks.
Sometimes New is not better...