Beer Brawl 16 – Bourbon/Whiskey/Scotch Aged Imperial Stout

Our 16th Beer Brawl, was the first one on the road and probably the one I was looking forward to the most.  Beside being on the road in a new location with a new friend of Simply Beer, I really wanted to drink this line up of Bourbon/Whiskey/Scotch aged Imperial Stouts.  The beers in Beer Brawl 16 were all Imperial Stouts, either American Imperial or Russian Imperial.  beerbrawl16_lineup

The Russian Imperial Stouts were created for the Russian czar in the early 1800′s, who had a real passion for good stouts.  This lead to the creation of this style as brewers keep making bigger and maltier stouts to impress the Czar.   The American Imperial Stout is an offspring of the Russian Imperial Style, the American version tends to be bigger, hoppier, and sweeter.  All the Stouts for this Beer Brawl were aged in some sort of Bourbon or Whiskey Cask, imparting additional flavors and age to the beer.

With me on this Beer Brawl was Mark Jackson, Corey Greenberg, and Kevin Malavarc.  The only prerequisite I have for these Beer Brawls is a love of beer.  You don’t need to know anything about the beers we are drinking only a willingness to try them and voice an opinion.

Unfortunately, this weeks podcast was corrupted.  My apologies for those of you looking forward to this podcast.  But here is a summary of what happened.

On Tap Tonight:

  • Schlafly Imperial Stout 2007 (pronouced shlaff-lee)
  • Schlafly Imperial Stout 2008
  • Brooklyn Black Ops
  • Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
  • BrewDog Paradox Stout
  • 2008 Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

As I said above, this week were on the road, in Boonton NJ.  Here we meet up with Kevin Malavarc, the Beer Manager from one of NJ largest beer stores, the Liquor Outlet Wine Cellars.  Aside from the 2007 Schlafly and 1 bottle of the Goose Island, Kevin brought all the beer from his store to this Beer Brawl.

After a couple failed attempts to get the AC working in the room we were in, we decided suffer on in 90° heat, in the name of good beer.  Our first beer of the night was the 2007 Schlafly Bourbon barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout.  With an ABV of 10.5% this was one of the lighter beers of the night.  We all thought the ’07 Schalfly was a excellent beer with a good balance of Bourbon, Chocolate, Vanilla, and Caramel.  The Bourbon flavor had mellow quite nicely which was well balanced with the malt.

Since we were lucky enough to have the 2007 Schalafly, Kevin brought the 2008 so we could compare the two together.  After letting the 2008 come up to about 55°, it was amazing how close the 2008 was to the 2007.  I’d say the only difference, the bourbon was a bit sharper, but in a year, I think the 2008 will taste pretty close to what the 2007 taste like now.


Brooklyn Black Ops

The 2008 Brooklyn Black Ops Russian Imperial Stout was next up.  I had previously had this beer about 2 months ago at a Brooklyn Brewery tasting event. I really liked the beer then but thought it was a bit over oaked.  I was wondering how this bottle would be, Kevin said he’d been holding onto it for several months, what will power!  This beer poured the most amazing think head, it was perfectly balanced, the bourbon, oak, chocolate, and malt all worked in harmony with this beer.  It was a Delicious beer.  Kevin and Mark called it “Amazing”.

Beer Brawl 16 - Kevin pouring the black ops

Beer Brawl 16 - Kevin pouring the black ops

The Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout was the next beer up for review.  This too also poured a pitch black with a tan head.  The head was not as dramatic as the Black Ops, but still looked good.  This breakfast stout brewed with coffee and vanilla, then aged in oak bourbon barrels for over a year.  At 11.2% ABV this was our biggest beer yet, but the alcohol is not what we tasted, it was the coffee.  If you don’t like coffee, you will not like this beer.  But even as a coffee lover,  the coffee in this beer was almost overwhelming.  To us, the beer was like a gritty bourbon spiked coffee.  That may be the best sounding description, but these flavors were extremely strong.

Beer Brawl 16 - Peter tasting the Kentucky Breakfast Stout

Beer Brawl 16 - Peter tasting the Kentucky Breakfast Stout

Next up was an American Imperial Stout from Scotland.  The young brewers at BrewDog have really come on strong to the beer scene with some extreme beer and the Paradox stout was no exception.  This 10% ABV stout was aged for 6 months in Scotch whiskey casks giving this beer a very strong peat and brine flavor with roasted coffee.  Mark and I didn’t feel it was well balance, but Kevin liked it a bit more then us.

Finally, the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout was the beer both Kevin and I were looking forward to the most since we’ve heard so many good this about this beer.   Boy, this beer caused a heated discussion between Mark and myself.  I personally will only server a stout at a slightly chilled temp, around 55°, but the label on this bottle says to server it a 40° which is what Mark thought we should be doing because that is what the brew master must have wanted.  We argued this point for about five minutes with neither of us conceding our point.  Before the discussion of the temperature, both Kevin and I were  disappointing in this beer,  While I felt this beer had well blended flavors,  the alcohol (13%abv) was very dominating in the flavor profile.  Kevin had some other descriptive words for the beer… without down that road, he didn’t like the beer at all.

Beer Brawl 16 - Mark making his point about the tempurature

Beer Brawl 16 - Mark making his point about the temperature

After all was said and drunk, the Brooklyn Black Ops was the clear cut favorite of the group, with the rest of the field finishing close behind.  For the most part,  a very good selection of beer that held up well to our scrutiny.

Schlafly Imperial Stout 2007 93 95 92
Schlafly Imperial Stout 2007 92 93 92
Brooklyn Black Ops 95 97 97
Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout 90 88 88
BrewDog Paradox Stout 89 91 90
2008 Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 91 NR 82

The next Beer Brawl will be Porters.  I have a great lineup of a bunch of different porters.  Check the Simply Beer Calander to see what is coming up.


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3 Responses to “Beer Brawl 16 – Bourbon/Whiskey/Scotch Aged Imperial Stout”

  1. Scott-TheBrewClub Says:

    I love these comparisons you do. Of the bunch, I’ve only had the Goose Island and I thought it was a wild beer. I’ve seen the black ops – I suppose I’ll need to pick it up.

  2. Friday Beer Snob: Brooklyn Brewery Black Ops | One New York Life Says:

    [...] was, at the very least, one of the first breweries to do it with their Imperial stout recipe and this article from Simply Beer suggests that, if Brooklyn didn’t come up with the idea, they’re certainly part of the [...]

  3. Those Beer Snobs | Friday Beer Snob: Brooklyn Black Ops Says:

    [...] was, at the very least, one of the first breweries to do it with their Imperial stout recipe and this article from Simply Beer suggests that, if Brooklyn didn’t come up with the idea, they’re certainly part of the [...]

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