Monday, January 9, 2012

Imperial Stout Tournament of Death Recap

The FatCat team went into the coliseum and faced imminent doom.  We’ve returned from our journey stronger beer geeks than we were before we departed.  We have attained enlightenment and wish to share our experience with our fellow beer geeks.  Please use what you learn carefully as misuse of your imperial stout knowledge could lead to devastating pantsless results.  You have been warned!

This tournament was so much fun that I can’t wait to do it again at the end of this year.  Hopefully I can get my hands on some other imperial stouts and make the next tournament even more exciting.  Round 1 of the tournament was a no frills look into the world of the imperial stout.  It was a testament to the beauty that can be constructed with malt complexity alone.  There was no barrel aging, bourbon barrels, or cocoa nibs.  Just pure and simple malt goodness.  To me, a big complex imperial stout can not be rivaled by any other style of beer out there.  The Czar is that beer which embodies this simple malt beauty. 

Round 2 of the tournament was an introduction to the imperial stouts with bells and whistles.  Bourbon barrel aging and cocoa nibs attempt to coax ever more complexity out of this great style.  We didn’t find any real stars in this round but I guess it’s a reminder that frills don’t make a good brew.  You just can’t barrel age something to make it good.

Round 3 was the heavy weight battle.  This is the round where the hype gets tested.  Just because something is uber limited doesn’t make it a masterpiece.  As I mentioned in my previous post, consuming any of these brews individually would lead to a high rating for any of them.  Considering the hype and/or the limited availability alone, one will usually elevate the perceived greatness of these types of brews.  I wanted to remove this artificial feeling of greatness and get to the results.  What better way to do that than pit these all star brews against each other back to back.  The result was the confirmation that Parabola is truly a work of art.

Which of the limited brews are worth the hype?
Firestone Walker Parabola – Absolutely YES in every way
Goose Island BCBS – YES, not as good as I would have thought but not bad either
Founder’s CBS – NO, buy regular Breakfast Stout
Stone 2011 Imperial Stout – NO, good price but was not as good as it’s rankings
Goose Island Big John – YES, moderate price and fairly easy to get

My Overall Rankings:

Grand Champion:  Firestone Walker Parabola

2.  Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti
3.  Avery The Czar
4.  Goose Island BCBS
5.  Old Rasputin
6.  Schlafly 2008 Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout
7.  Stone 2011 Imperial Stout
8.  Founder’s CBS
9.  Hoppin’ Frog Barrel Aged BORIS
10. Goose Island Big John
11. Dogfather Barrel Aged

Are you not entertained!?!?

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