A Tale of Two Bourbon Cask Aged Imperial Stouts

I spent an enjoyable afternoon this weekend at the Blind Tiger Alehouse in New York.  They recently had an event for Dick’s Brewing Company from Washington State, so more than half the taps were given over to Dick’s beers.  This is not a bad thing, as most of the beers I tried were superb, with special focus on the cask conditioned IPA and the Dry-Hopped Mountain Amber.  Both were hoppy and flowery, and as smooth drinking as they come.

The first beer on the board that I noticed was the Imperial Stout aged in a Bourbon Oak Cask.  I decided to try that one last, figuring that it would be a strongly flavored beer that might blow out my taste buds, leaving everything else tasting thin and lifeless.  While I was working my way through the other beers, a keg kicked and they tapped the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, which is also aged in oak bourbon barrels.  As I could now do a side by side comparison, my beer dorkiness was at an elevated level.

First up was the offering from Dick’s.  My drunkenly scribbled notes start off with “Holy Shit! Fantastic!”  This beer was smooth as silk, with perfectly balanced vanilla and oak in the aroma and the taste.  A fantastic beer, as good as I have had in ages.  9.5/10.

The Goose Island was not quite as good, though if I had not just had the Dick’s to compare it to, I’d probably give it the same superlatives.  The same oak and vanilla flavors were there, but they were overly aggressive and overpowered any subtler flavors this beer may have had.  Do you remember how Nigel Tufnel’s amps went to 11? The Goose Island Bourbon County Stout may “go to 11” but I am giving it an 8/10.

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