2006 - a little past it's prime, so the hops didn't really add to it at all, but damn, the roasted malts and chocolate, anise, etc in this beer aged in bourbon barrels? A thing of beauty. Would really like to try this a year or two old instead of 6.
2014 as Fyodor's Classic 500 ml bottle...soft luxurious palate aroma and flavor, just like guradians slumber. AWESOME!
had at the "Stone'd for 6 days" event at the Flying Saucer, Houston .. . presented in a Stone RIS goblet .. . dark melted chocolate, bourbon barrel, god's tears .. . black, with a roasty dark brown coco head, awesome lacing .. . smooth as silk, almost no heat .. awesome stuff! .. bitch ..hoe ..
Hand bottle marked 06, generously shared by sloth, who always out does me. The pour was dead on for the style in color, a bit still on the effervescence/carbonation leading me to think this was a little spent in the bottle, hopes dashed a tad. The aroma, though, was wonderful, excellent oak, cedar (undoubtedly this, and Bert nailed that first), bourbon, vanilla, and chocolate notes teasing the nose, raising hopes back up. The flavor kicked buttocks, surpassing all expectations and leading me to want more: all of the aroma was there in the flavor along with a chocolate dustiness that was quite nice. Absolutely no hint of oxidation at all, just a great production in its prime of drinking. Mouthfeel was full and a little flat, but surprisingly this thing wasn't cloying or sticky one bit, despite the lack of carbonation and aging (absence) of any hops. Right on, Bert, thanks so much for sharing this one with me. I shall declare this my honorary/symbolic 2k beer.
May 2008 Release; Sampled June 2008
A careful pour produces a half-finger thick, brown tinged, darker tan colored head. The beer is pitch black and color and quite opaque. Ample, spicy Bourbon aromas are noticeable without completely drowning out the Stout aromatics. Roast espresso aromas, charred prune notes, bit roast grain and a finish dominated by deeply toasted grain notes that lean towards toasted, not quite burnt whole grain bread. The aroma has some sweetness to it, that is accentuated just a bit by the Bourbon-alcohol aromas. When intensely scrutinizing the aroma the Bourbon notes are big up front, but then disappear and allow that pure stout notes to come through, but then things start to meld together as toasted barrel notes of coconut , vanillin mix with dark, rich, sweet malty chocolate aromas. This has a very nice aroma to it, much better than I was expecting as the Bourbon barrel notes are quite well integrated; the Imperial stout aromatics are still allowed to shine here & really show quite well as they mix with the barrel notes.
Fairly thick and viscous up front, the beer gets a bit thinner towards the finish as some boozy, Bourbon notes kick in. Creamy feeling with a huge, richly, dark malt sweetened, chocolate flavors are accentuated by the barrel with flavors of vanillin, a light coconut note and a rich, burnt fruit character. This last reminds me of a mix of deeply roasted, burnt, succulent figs, moist prunes and raisins. While not overly thick or viscous this really has an unctuous, creamy fullness that just engulfs the palate; when warmed up a bit it even manages to over-power the thinning effect of the Bourbon booze in the finish. When cooler the hop and roast grain notes combine to give this beer a substantial, but sometimes overlooked, bitterness.
The bitter, burnt roast notes are what really define this beer; not necessarily in the way you might think though as these notes are very well integrated and never allowed to become harsh, sharp nor astringent. Instead the roast character plays an almost supporting role (if you can imagine such a thing in an Imperial Stout), creating a rich, roast malt depth & balancing act that provides touches of bitterness, a light roast acidity and a deep black coffee note that serves as a light foil to the sweet, concentrated, chocolate like, thick malt character that is so nice in this beer. The texture, especially, really starts to come in to its own as the beer warms up; the boozy Bourbon notes that thinned out the finish are tamed and this beer remains a creamy, viscous, palate enveloping experience from the start to long, lingering finish of each sip. Even the aroma gets increasingly better as it warms up; accentuating more of the chocolate, toasted coconut and vanillin notes.
This is far better than I was expecting; I had thought I was burnt out on Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stouts, but this shows I just need a nice, well balanced example to keep me interested in the style. Perhaps just a touch too boozy in the finish, this beer otherwise is a classic example of the marriage of Bourbon and Imperial Stout. I really did not expect to love this; I assumed that at most I might find it interesting and slightly enjoyable, instead this is just down right tasty & easily the best use of a Bourbon barrel in a beer that I have had. Stones Imperial stout requires some age on it to be at its best, this beer manages to display those characteristics as well as an added boost of complexity from the Bourbon barrel that was not overdone. I almost feel guilty for liking this beer as much as I do, especially since I was expecting to be able to easily tear it down. This really needs to be served on the warm side of cool; it started out at 50°F / 10°C, but still really becomes phenomenal the longer I wait. I have about a half ounce left and it seems to be at its best after sitting in my glass for the last hour and a half; damn there it goes, unexpectedly I am left wanting more.
Tasted on tap at the 2007 Bistro West Coast Barrel Aged Beer Festival. This Imperial Stout pours a eclipse black color. Small sized tan head with great retention and amazing long lasting lacing. Aroma is bourbon, chocolate, brown sugar and oak. WOW. Full bodied Russian Imperial Stout. The malts are chocolate and coffee. Hints of vanilla and oak and dark fruit blend well in this beer. The hops are earthy. The bourbon flavor is pronounced but not overbearing. Extremely well balanced. Very smooth tasting. The 10% alcohol is not that noticeable. Complex yet very drinkable. As good as Stones regular Russian Imperial Stout is this one is way better. Incredible beer. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is slightly bitter.
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