Special Post-Boxing Day Edition of the Twelve Days of Christmas: Jester King Black Metal Stout Aged in an Oak Whiskey Barrel

December 27, 2011

Mr. JK is quite the generous soul. Mr. JK was being his usual generous and jolly self during Christmas 2010 when he gave Tilting Suds an oak whiskey barrel and some ‘raw’ spirits to age in the barrel. I barreled the whiskey just before Christmas, 2010. The liquor was clear when I poured it in the barrel; It was also as smooth as jet fuel. On New Year’s Eve, 2010, I poured off a bit to sample it. It had taken on some color but was still harsh firewater, nearly undrinkable. I sampled it again on Saint Patrick’s Day and Independence Day. Each successive sample took on more color and flavor, but the firewater aspect hardly mellowed at all. I decided that I would leave the whiskey in the barrel until after Thanksgiving to give it time to cool off, so to speak. This was a tactical error on my part. While my plan to mellow the whiskey was a sound one, what I did not count on was the Angels being so parched that their share would drain nearly the entire barrel.  After just under a year in the barrel, between evaporation and the oak absorbing the liquid, what started as 1500 ml of whiskey* was reduced to this: Read the rest of this entry »

Winter Beers from Texas: Saint Arnold Winter Stout and Rahr & Sons Bourbon Barrel Winter Warmer Ale

February 18, 2011

It is Seventy-One Degrees here in the Sun’s Anvil, so naturally I am drinking the last of the winter beers.  One of the pleasant surprises of living in Texas is the vibrant and growing brewing industry, and Saint Arnold is certainly one of the better brewers here in Texas.  Their Winter Stout is a prime example of why Saint Arnold is held in such high esteem.  It pours black with some ruby highlights, and has a smokey coffee aroma.  There is smoke and chocolate when you first taste it, followed by some espresso in the aftertaste.  Nicely balanced, not heavy at all, and at 5.6% ABV, the Saint Arnold Winter Stout is an excellent session beer for a cold winter night, 8/10.  I enjoyed this beer on the three cold winter nights we had here in Texas this past winter.

I keep hearing good things about Rahr & Sons, a Fort Worth based brewer, and their beers keep disappointing me.  The Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer continues the disappointing trend.  It pours a dark brown with some chocolate malt, vanilla and oak in the aroma and the flavor, and some mild spiciness as well.  It is just a bit thin tasting, and the 8.5% ABV overwhelms any subtlety to the flavor profile.  Not a bad beer by any means, but I was hoping for something a little better, considering how much I usually enjoy barrel aged beers, 6/10.

A Tale of Two Bourbon Cask Aged Imperial Stouts

April 5, 2010

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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