The weather has turned cooler, it’s raining and there are leaves blowing around everywhere. Dark, thick beer weather is upon us at last. Last night I went over to a friends house for a Halloween party and both our hosts and several guests brought out some nice bottles for the occasion. Large parties are great for trying several things since 6-10 people are splitting a bottle you can get several small tastes in without getting too deep into the weeds at the end of the night.
I didn’t take any tasting notes, but several things jumped out at me, so I want to get them jotted down here while I still remember them.
2018 Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star Spice Wars – Fremont Brewing (Seattle, WA) –This was the first bottle that got opened and talk about swinging for the fences. Fremont has a pretty good track record with barrel aged beers. I’ve had the plain Barrel Aged Dark Star, but this one has the addition of a handful of spices. The label lists cinnamon, clove, allspice, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla. It was delightful to drink and the only thing I would really knock it for was that the cinnamon really overpowered everything else. I didn’t get the other spices. My wife said it tasted like an oatmeal cookie, so I think they nailed it. (4.75 stars)
Good Gourd Almighty – Pumpkin Beer aged in Rum Barrels – Cigar City Brewing (Tampa, FL) – The first of three Cigar City beers to make an appearance last night (our hosts used to live in Florida and attend the Hunahpu Stout release often). Lightly spiced pumpkin beer with a strong vanilla presence from the rum. Pretty easy drinking and does well to hide it’s 11% abv strength. (4.5 stars)
Forgotten Island – Belgian Quad aged in Rum Barrels – Cigar City Brewing – Another rum barrel aged beer from Cigar City, unfortunately this one was not very good. Or, at least it was very old. I believe this was from 2014 and it was sickly sweet, not crisp and dry like a Belgian strong should be and was very oxidized, a flavor to which I’m sadly very sensitive. Other people weren’t as put off by it as I was, so some personal taste issues I’m sure. Would have probably been amazing if fresh. (3.25 stars)
2013 Eclipse (Black Wax/Evan Williams barrel) – FiftyFifty Brewing Co. (Truckee, CA) – I see these bottles at the bottle shop all the time, what’s interesting is they bottle variants from a single style of barrel and the different wax color is the key to what barrel. One might be Woodford Reserve, one might be Heaven Hills, etc. This one was Evan Williams, which isn’t super rare, but still a very enjoyable beer. Super smooth and great whiskey character. No harsh alcohol despite pushing 12%. (4.75 Stars)
Toyko* – Brewdog Brewing (Aberdeenshire, Scotland) – I really have no idea what this beer is supposed to be. An imperial stout with jasmine and cranberries and then dryhopped and aged on toasted French oak chips. It says it’s meant to be “excess” and it surely is. Even comes in at a whopping 18.2% alcohol. At about 4 years old, it mostly tasted like soy sauce. Not very pleasant, but interesting to try. (3.0 stars)
2013 Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout – Cigar City Brewing – This one’s not actually barrel aged, but it was a rare treat to get to try it and it rounds out the Cigar City trio from last night. This Mayan themed beer is essentially Mexican chocolate, with cocoa and chili peppers. It was pretty good, but the peppers were a bit over the top for my personal taste. It had a strong flavor and a bit of a throat burn. (4.5 stars)