Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Imperial Stout Tournament of Death: Round 2

As I’m sure everyone has been waiting with baited breath here is Round 2.  The stouts are getting bigger and badder with barrel aging added to their arsenals.  I had to make a quick substitution because I forgot to buy a Schlafly Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout, so I threw FatCat’s own Bourbon Barrel Zombie Apocalypse into this round.  This is not a shootout and thus not a blind tasting. We sampled each beer and ranked them in the order we preferred drinking them. I invited some FatCat veterans over and we got through round 2 of the tournament. Here are the results.

FatCat’s Ranking:
Bourbon Barrel Zombie Apocalypse #1
Hoppin’ Frog Barrel Aged BORIS #2
Goose Island Big John #3
The Dogfather Barrel Aged #4

Super Dave’s Ranking:
Bourbon Barrel Zombie Apocalypse #1
Hoppin’ Frog Barrel Aged BORIS #2
The Dogfather Barrel Aged #3
Goose Island Big John #4

Greg’s Ranking:
Bourbon Barrel Zombie Apocalypse #1
Goose Island Big John #2
Hoppin’ Frog Barrel Aged BORIS #3
The Dogfather Barrel Aged #4

The Winner:  Bourbon Barrel Zombie Apocalypse
FatCat’s brew reigned supreme in this round.  This was my first attempt at “barrel aging” anything.  I used some toasted oak chips and soaked them in Elijah Craig bourbon.  I aged some of my Zombie Apocalypse on the oak chips for about two months and then bottled.  The outcome is a bourbon laced imperial spin kick in the face.  The nose has the same molasses character as the regular version except this version sports a beautiful bourbon aroma.  The brew has a decently thick mouthfeel of which I would like a bit thicker.  The taste is a little sweetness followed by a prominent black licorice note.  Intermingled are hints of oak and a slight alcohol burn from the bourbon.  There is also a bit of sour in the middle of the palate giving the impression of some dark fruit flavors.

Second Place:  Hoppin’ Frog Barrel Aged BORIS
This brew was big and sweet.  Usually I’m a fan of “big and sweet” but this one was overly sweet.  This is one of those brews that had the dreaded chocolate milk character.  There was some wood character followed by some fruit tastes in the middle of the palate.  Bourbon character was present but very subtle. 

Third Place:  Goose Island Big John
I previously reviewed this one and got a weird Elmers glue taste.  My internet detective work revealed this weird character was most likely alcohol bitterness from an immature brew.  I stowed this one away for almost a year and pulled it out for the tournament.  First off I will say the weird glue taste is gone so I would venture to say it was alcohol bitterness that caused the initial funny taste.  The second thing I will say is this brew was the odd man out in the competition.  It was the only one not barrel aged but instead was aged on cocoa nibs.  Big John started with a big nose of chocolate and malt sweetness.  The mouthfeel was big and did complement the sweetness of this brew.  The sweetness was balanced by a big coffee bitterness which started to hit you in the middle of the palate.  There was a bit of chocolate on the finish but was fairly subtle. 

Fourth Place:  The Dogfather Barrel Aged
This one was the least favorite of our group.  It had a prominent sour character that the others in this round did not.  Some of us perceived a sourness while others thought the strange character was bitterness.  Whether it was truly a sour character or just a byproduct of bitterness, this was the most bitter of all the stouts.  It was so bitter that Super Dave referred to it as a “Black IPA”.  The sourness/bitterness dominated and was followed by a bit of coffee-like quality.  There was a dark chocolate character in the aftertaste.  Overall this was an awkward barrel aged stout.  If you recall my previous review, the regular Dogfather was really weird in the fact it had an overwhelming cherry character to it.  Laughing Dog pulls weird stuff in their brews and the Barrel Aged Dogfather is no exception.

The first round was outstanding, this round not so much.  I was largely disappointed in this round of the tasting.  The bright spot is FatCat’s brew took top honors but the bad thing is I was expecting the other brews to be better.  My homebrew is neither terrible nor award winning but I would expect breweries “special release” imperial stouts to be more exciting than this.  Never fear round 3 will be one for the ages as they say. 

Upcoming Round 3:
Firestone Parabola
Schlafly 2008 Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout
Founder’s CBS
Oak Aged Yeti

I also have a bottle of Goose Island BCBS that may sneak its way into the tournament!

Hope everyone had a safe New Years and look forward to sharing a craft beer filled 2012 with everyone.


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