Category Archives: Stout

Cigar City’ Power Of Friendship’ Brandy BA Imperial Stout


74876762_1199344233583053_5167070734849146880_n“7venth Sun Brewery and Cigar City Brewing are friends. In fact, we talk on the phone all the time about how powerful our friendship is. What do friends do together? They brew Brandy Barrel-aged Imperial Stouts together, that’s what friends do. Here’s to friendship! Brewed in collaboration with 7venth Sun Brewery.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Thick black sump oil with hardly any head formation on top…just a gathering of loose bubble around the rim. Some wet streaky legs are all that’s seen as we go.

Aroma: Wow the brandy barrels play a significant role in this… letting off those classic nutty accents while still capturing the rich caramel and jammy dark fruits. As it settles the decadence is multiplied by the intense molasses and raw cacao then doubled down with pure dark chocolate, Vegemite, soy sauce, espresso coffee, licorice and leather. This is a biggun.

Flavour: Good God it comes on like a bull out of the gates. It literally smothers the palate with super rich molasses, leather, dark chocolate, Vegemite, licorice, burnt wood, espresso coffee, iodine and good ol brandy barrels. There’s also a flicker of vanilla in there and thank Christ coz it adds just just a bit of creaminess.

Mouthfeel: Oily, viscous and dense AF! Next to no CO2 with a hefty 12.3% ABV – which doesn’t mind letting us know.

Overall: This is one angry and in-your-face impy stout. It grabs a hold of the taste buds and slaps them around until they’re cowering in the corner. And we dig it! It’s so outlandish and aggressive that it’s hard not to respect it. What it needs though is a few years in the cellar…just to cool down a bit.

To Ol ’19 Edition ‘Mr Blue’ Imperial Blackcurrant Stout


71834800_1188235128027297_5586087125771616256_n“This year’s Mr. Blue has truly turned to the dark side. Dark, roasted malts merged with tart black-currants to create a rich and decadent Imperial Blackcurrant Stout with the body of a Greek warrior and the tone of a siren. To be drank on the beaches of Troy, whilst building a wooden horse and fighting the Trojans. Super full and complex delight.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Looks awfully menacing! Super dark and muddy brown with a purple-tinged brown head. Excellent head retention and a smattering of lace as we imbibe.

Aroma: My goodness what have we got here?! The first thing we pick up is a heady scent of crushed red grapes but a few more whiffs and that turns to blackcurrant pulp with a touch of rich molasses around the edges. it’s actually quite tart but this really deep earthiness to the fruit more than counters it. Nice and subtle charred notes underneath…letting all of those quirky aromas do the talking. Very eccentric but we love!

Flavour: Holy moly the second it hits the tongue it detonates with an unbelievable amount of flavour. It’s almost sour initially then ultra tart, bitter then on to a charred and roasty finish. All the way through is this delicious and at times tannic blackberry pulp which ventures off in to earthy, sweet and tangy territory. But the best thing is that it all works in together.

Mouthfeel: Sharp and acetic yet rather silky. The 10.1% ABV is ridiculously well buried. Medium body with mild-moderate CO2.

Overall: Weird, wacky and wonderful! There is no other beer like it this is in a category of its own. Pretty impressive stuff we must say.

Counter Culture ‘So Long Darkness?’ Invisible Stout


71402995_1187517794765697_8533003894253420544_n“Not all is what it seems with So Long Darkness..?, our ‘invisible’ stout. Eyes closed, the generous hints of roasted coffee, chocolate and creaminess found in So Long Darkness..? might have you think it were a regular stout. But upon pouring, the way the light shines through this pale liquid might surprise you like an optical illusion. This is, in fact, not a dark beer at all.”

Glassware: Teku.

Appearance: Golden amber pour with a mild haze and flat CO2…somewhat explains the lack of head retention. It settles to a collar with surprisingly good lacing.

Aroma: We can definitely get the coffee straight off the bat. There’s also a distinct chilli pepper scent that we’re detecting as well. Plenty of milk chocolate, vanilla/lactose, fairy floss, white marshmallow and glazed cherry. It really feels strange listing those scents then looking at what would most likely be called a pale ale if one didn’t know any better. Very interesting…and fun!

Flavour: Like the aroma it kicks off with a robust hit of raw coffee bean with the vanilla and lactose sweetness in support. Delicious milk chocolate flows through and brings with it this almost Rocky Road-like flavour. From there it seems to drop off a cliff before a hint of lactose and marshmallow returns on the back palate.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and aerated with some bitterness forming in the swallow. Medium body. CO2 a bit flat but it kinda works.

Overall: The fourth installment in what has become, in our opinion, the most exciting range of beers to come out of Stone & Wood. This release (although fun) doesn’t really stack up against the likes of sticky nectar. Still! It’s unconventional and they’ve pulled it off pretty well.

Bridge Road Brewers ‘Two Thousand’ BA Imperial Stout


71086626_1184486888402121_3383049896863989760_n“To celebrate our 2000th brew we have created a beer that uses something old and something new. Blending whiskey and bourbon barrel-aged B2 Bomber Mach 7.0 ( aged 24 months on Brettanomyces) with a freshly brewed imperial stout. This challenging beer combines much of what we have learned from brewing the previous 1999 beers, whilst also trying something completely new for us.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Thing pours like sump oil – thick black and impenetrable with a thin collar. It posts little rings as we imbibe.

Aroma: Complex! Loving the subtle bretty character. Beneath that is a glimpse of Mach 7.0 with its pseudo black IPA fruitiness and charred malts. Enter the barrels…which provide spicy caramels and even a touch of tannic red wine. Delve even deeper and we pick up those young and aggressive imperial stout notes of licorice, molasses, dark chocolate and peat. Holy moly what an aroma.

Flavour: And we thought the aroma was complex! Deciphering this is gonna be like cracking the DaVinci code….roasty, funky, dank, oaky, somewhat savoury and spicy. Again we get a glimpse of Mach 7.0 with a bit of piney hop and citrus around the edges. Everything then seems to just pile in on each other to the point where it’s almost too hard to isolate anything. One thing we do know… it’s menacing!

Mouthfeel: Oily and dense…really coats the whole palate. Full bodied, low CO2. 10% ABV – not hard to isolate that one!

Overall: Look it’s an awesome beast but we’re undecided on whether it’s just TOO complicated. Loving the creativity though so here’s cheers to a milestone for Bridge Road. Brew #2000!

Bottle Logic ’18 ‘Fundamental Observation’ BA Imperial Stout


71171203_1179507455566731_8832097144639848448_n“Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Vanilla Stout: Our chart-topping ”liquid brownie batter” was aged in a medley of Buffalo Trace, WL Weller, Heaven Hill, and Four Roses bourbon barrels with multiple additions of Madagascar vanilla beans.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impenetrable black with a wispy brown overlay. It quickly retreats to the rim and provides reasonable lace as it subsides.

Aroma: It never ceases to amaze us how unbelievably satisfying aromas of this calibre can be. When they’re this good words just don’t do it justice. This heavenly concoction of mild bourbon barrels, vanilla bean, licorice, espresso coffee, blackstap molasses, prunes/dates, melted brown sugar and spice is that good we’d happily spend every last cent on it just so we could have an endless supply! It’s outrageous.

Flavour: As expected…not one backward step is taken. It’s a mirror image of the aroma – chock full of bourbon barrel goodness, sweet vanilla, licorice, dark chocolate and or raw cacao, molasses, dark fruits i.e prunes/dates/raisins and espresso coffee. Don’t know how they manage such a smooth finish also. Wtf?!

Mouthfeel: Dense, rich and full bodied…but so god damn smooth! How can they hide the 13.2% ABV like this?? This shit shouldn’t be legal.

Overall: We don’t want to nitpick but…oh who are we kidding it was a 10 from the second we copped a nose-full of this infectious liquid. This is what it’s all about right here. Phenomenal drop.

Modern Times ‘Black House’ Coffee Stout


“It’s so great that you like coffee. I just love that about you. Speaking of which, you’re holding an oatmeal coffee stout positively redolent with coffee aroma and flavor. It kind of tastes like a chocolate-covered espresso bean, only drier and more like beer. Nifty fact: we’re one of the only breweries in the world to roast our own coffee, which allows us to be extremely persnickety about which beans we buy and how we roast them. Taste the persnicketiness!”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Glossy black with a finger of light brown foam assembling on top. Reduction is swift and eventually it retreats to the rim. Healthy lace despite the lack of retention.

Aroma: We probably sound like a broken record but we LOVE COFFEE! So when we see a coffee stout brewed by one of San Diego’s finest we don’t hesitate! A twirl of the glass awakens that glorious coffee aroma along with cocoa, bakers chocolate, porridge, toast, lightly roasted barley and lactose. Maybe a flutter of molasses and nutty malt as well. Damn fine aroma.

Flavour: In short? MIA! It’s almost a completely different beer! All of that gorgeous coffee, chocolate and porridge has been watered down and is nothing but a shadow of the aroma. In its defence all of the flavours are here but they’re just weak as water. And it’s like this from start to finish. Gaahh!

Mouthfeel: Thin and slippery…no grip whatsoever. Only 5.8% ABV so it is in session territory. Far too lean for a stout though.

Overall: Such a shame. To inhale that dreamy aroma and then get let down so bad by the flavour makes us want to cry. That’s a rare strike out for MT.

Mr Banks brewing Co Oatmeal Stout


70154272_1173017859549024_1044518196503117824_n“With Layers & layers of dark malt, American Hops & Smooth Oats. This Chocolate, Roasty & Slick Stout is a pleasure for all the sense’s.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Solid black with a short brown head on top. Reduction is Swift and eventually settles at the rim. Thin rings stick to the glass as we imbibe.

Aroma: Roasty, savoury and even a touch sweet but it’s all a bit mild and a little shy. As we delve in we pick up further wafts of coffee, dark chocolate, lactose and rolled oats but we’re finding the same problem…it’s all just a bit lackluster. It’s a shame it couldn’t find that 2nd gear because at its core it’s a decent aroma.

Flavour: It’s slow off the mark but as it progresses we pick up gentle roast, coffee, dark chocolate, lactose, rolled oats and delicate licorice. There’s a very faint citrusy hop bitterness making its way through as well. The finish is again mild and lightly toasty with hop character and bittersweet chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Way too thin for a stout. We’ll concede a low-ish ABV (5.5%) could have something to do with it. CO2 is spot on though.

Overall: If anything we’d be calling this a borderline session black IPA. Nowhere near the body one would expect from a stout. It’s a big old meh from us.


Dainton Brewery ‘Nutters’ Choc Peanut Butter Stout


71108235_1171410759709734_3244479374128316416_n“Peanuts are rad, aliens told us so. Better than that, we’re going to show you so. Just watch your allergies, because we aim to please. This beer ain’t crap!”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Mat black with a healthy two finger head perched on top. Excellent retention…weaving a thick intricate lace down the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Snickers eat your heart out! Tonnes of peanut, chocolate, caramel, nougat, coconut and honey-roasted cashews. The only downside to these novelty beers is that there’s not much more to uncover once we scratch through the first layer. Maybe a hint of cherry cola and strawberry gum getting amongst it…albeit conservatively. Nice though.

Flavour: It doesn’t follow through as well as we’d hoped. We’re detecting mild hints of peanut, chocolate and caramel but it tapers off pretty quickly. It leaves a somewhat doughy flavour to set up the nutty and semi sweet finish. Kind of pulls up a tad short on the back palate too.

Mouthfeel: Quite thin and slippery…hardly any body to it whatsoever. The upside is the 6% ABV is very well disguised.

Overall: We love a novelty beer. Especially when it mimics a chocolate bar or ice cream but this falls a bit short of the mark. The aroma has vigour but the flavour is muted and the texture is too lean for a stout. Had better from Dainton

Cigar City X Cycle Brewing ‘Not A Single Feeling’ Sherry BA Imperial Stout


69949393_1167819246735552_3420578655376506880_n“This Sherry Barrel-aged Imperial Stout evokes not a single feeling, but a myriad of feelings: happiness, gregariousness, exuberance, and the joy of teamwork. Brewed in collaboration with Cycle Brewing.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Engine oil with a sparsely populated head. Groups of large bubble reduce instantly and form a thin collar at the rim of the glass. Lacing is minimal.

Aroma: Totally pungent! Rich black strap molasses erupts out of the glass followed by heady notes of licorice, boozy Xmas cake, dark chocolate, vanilla, charred malts and dark fruits. The latter emphasized by the time spent in ex-sherry barrels which also adds a certain nuttiness alongside, of course, fine oak accents. That 13.9% ABV definitely tickles the nostrils too!

Flavour: Oohh wee she’s feisty! A proper belly warmer. We must say though it’s more tempered on the palate…there’s no single flavour that stands out it’s just a potent concoction of oak, molasses, licorice, dark chocolate, sherry, charred malts, sweet dark fruits (prunes, dates) vanilla and raw cacao. It rounds off on a roasty, charred and boozy finish although the sting in the tail is softened…which is testament to the brewers.

Mouthfeel: Oily, dense and aggressive. Low CO2 with full body.

Overall: They call this “Not a single feeling’ yet we feel plenty! Admiration is one. Feeling a bit tipsy is another. In all seriousness this thing is off the charts. A little brash still but nothing a few years in the cellar couldn’t sort out. Kudos CC that is superb!

Range Brewing Oatmeal Stout


70597867_1166452346872242_1652343626090414080_n“This creamy oatmeal stout was brewed to be a smooth mid winter delight. We’ve used to massive quantity of oats in this batch, as well as editions of chocolate malt and roasted barley to the malt bill. It is jet black, with a creamy espresso coloured head. We get a beautiful balance between toasted notes and a light malt sweetness and a super smooth bitterness to finish.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Impenetrable black with a short yet finely beaded brown head emerging on top. It doesn’t hold together long, dispersing and settling at the rim. Fine rings stick to the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: There’s a discernible savoury sweetness that we were detecting even as our glasses sat idle on the table. It’s somewhere between honeycomb and pistachio. And then there’s the delicate touch of cherry too! All the while that creamy, porridge-like oatmeal underlines it all. Subtle notes of vanilla, chocolate shavings and French toast just for good measure!

Flavour: It’s a bit slow out of the gates. Slightly watery with the oatmeal front and centre. Then the magic happens…it’s like an explosion of flavour goes off and sends coffee, chocolate, roasted nutty malts, dark fruits and earthy wood in each and every direction. This cluster of flavours reaches well in to the finish and goes for days on the back palate.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth. Could have a little bit more weight but we’re not going to nitpick. Nicely rounded with the 6.1% ABV buried well.

Overall: Not as good as the pale ale but it’s still a cracking drop. Dead set…where did these guys come from?!

Goose Island 2018 ‘BCBS’ BA Imperial Vanilla Stout


69268730_1162342700616540_3170632642743762944_n“This long time favorite makes a long-awaited return to the Bourbon County Stout roster. Utilizing whole grade A vanilla beans from Madagascar, Vanilla delivers on all the quintessential things fans love about this variant: aromatic vanilla, marshmallow, toffee, oak, and floral notes highlighting the creamy mouthfeel and enhancing the chocolate flavors that are ingrained in Bourbon County Stout.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as midnight! Hardly any head forms in the pour and whatever does vanishes almost instantly. No lacing whatsoever.

Aroma: It literally jumps out of the glass! The vanilla is so creamy and sweet that we just want to bathe in it. The sticky and rich molasses, the heavily charred malts and dark chocolate, the coffee…as big and menacing as they all are that vanilla still comes out on top. Then there’s the barrels imparting georgeous oak and subtle bourbon…good heavens!

Flavour: The progression of flavour here is off the charts. There’s a huge surge of bourbon, molasses and vanilla upfront which rolls in to further notes of licorice, star anise and brown sugar. There’s a tussle between vanilla and bittersweet chocolate that goes for days but it’s backfilled with hints of woody oak, toffee, charred malts, coconut and dark fruits.

Mouthfeel: Oily and viscous. Minimal CO2 with a belly warming 14.9% ABV. Yet for its size and immaturity it’s still reasonably well balanced. Incredible.

Overall: Taking the above in to consideration we still think this bad boy needs at least 5 years in the cellar. It’s still quite brash. We’re not taking anything away from it though…the BCBS range is still one of the best in the world.

Stone & Wood/Counter Culture ‘It’d Be Rude Not To’ French Toast Stout


68439605_1153780061472804_5667870016121339904_n“Prepare to salivate. Our delectable French toast stout, It’d Be Rude Not To is the third release of our limited Counter Culture range – and a beer for those times you just can’t refuse. Dark, decadent and oozing with patisserie goodness, we admit It’d Be Rude Not To is a little bit naughty.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with a short but finely beaded brown head. Reduction is slow and steady and leaves a cascading lace down the glass.

Aroma: Definitely dominated by the winter spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice) but well supported by sweet and syrupy maple and caramel, melted chocolate, vanilla and milk sugars, toasty malts and sugary coffee. We can even pick up subtle hints of banana, toffee fudge and toasted marshmallow. Incredible aroma!

Flavour: Nice and creamy but jam-packed with rich maple and cinnamon, toasty malts and coffee, some dry bitterness, bittersweet chocolate and light black strap molasses. As it progresses it changes lanes again and finishes on a base of sweet caramel and maple, spice and toasty malt.

Mouthfeel: There’s a good weight to it but it’s still somewhat approachable. Slick texture and well concealed ABV (7.4%). Low CO2.

Overall: In our opinion this Counter Culture series is their best work yet. Even as avid IPA lovers we think it’s better than Fixation. They’re playing around with exciting flavours and it already enjoys a bit of a cult following. Can’t wait to see what they come out with next! Top drop.

Dainton ‘Shellraiser” Oyster Kilpatrick Imperial Stout


67812030_1143796119137865_8311881909655306240_n“Another year and another ‘collab’ with these crazy folks. Also some NSW farmer helped source the actual 110 dozen oysters in this brew. Note – there is no bacon, though it does taste a bit like bacon … ‘Facon’, I call it. I don’t. You do.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impenetrable black with a frothy two finger crown. The head holds together and laced well.

Aroma: Definitely getting a salty/briney note hitting the olfactory’s first…surely the oysters. Some sweet and smoky notes which remind us of honey glazed ham also getting amongst it. Hints of mild roast and licorice, chocolate and a subtle candied scent which we can’t quite put our finger on…we want to say musk but we’re not certain of it.

Flavour: Again quite salty and briney upfront. Mild gamey-ness from the oysters, bitter sweet chocolate, some vanilla, some warming booze and roasty malts. It moves in to delicate licorice and or molasses with soft smoky notes rolling in to a salty finish which provides lightly charred malts and soft bitterness on a good length.

Mouthfeel: Nice and balanced – not too heavy not too light. Oily and well rounded. The 9.5% AbV is really well hidden.

Overall: Look it’s not going to set any records but it’s a fairly decent drop. The actual collaboration is the craziest thing about it! I mean there’s Dainton from Victoria, Van Dieman from Tassie and Bright Tank and Rocky Ridge from WA! The logistics alone is nuts! The beer though…not bad.

Deschutes 2016 Brandy BA ‘Abyss’ Imperial Stout


67097311_1137911909726286_6522436742723665920_n“Enticingly ripe, earthy fruit rudiments awash in the open salt air of Normandy, lightly augmented with mushrooms grown in the depths of the Tronҫais forest. Delicate notes of Livarot glazed with an orange reduction and textured with toasted coconut shavings. Distinct aromas of cinnamon and ulster cherry, foxtrot in time with tangs of vanilla and brown sugar. Balanced, approachable wood zests meld charmingly with the finish of figs and Allegheny plums.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as midnight! It forms a dark brown head which swells to two fingers before it gradually recedes. Healthy lace clings to the glass as we imbibe.

Aroma: It’s remarkable how much of an impact the brandy barrels have put on this stout…cognac-like sweetness supported by dark fruits i.e raisin and dates, rich toffee, caramel and vanilla. So much so that it resembles a top shelf barleywine with its hallmark residual sugars and caramelised malts. Not to mention the warming booze and oak that isn’t shying away!

Flavour: Jeez even after three years in the cellar this bad boy still packs some heat! A wave of stinging booze, bitter espresso, molasses and charred malts hit the palate like an overhand right from Riddick! Brandy takes the back seat with its semi-sweet dark fruits and spice developing late in the piece. There’s little respite as it finishes with an aggressive espresso bitterness and an enduring burn in the tail.

Mouthfeel: Dense, oily and viscous with low Co2 giving it that extra weight. 13.3% AbV – explains that lifted booze burn.

Overall: Still a bit too aggressive in our opinion. The aroma was bang on point but the flavour is too heavy on the booze and bitterness. A bit of a shame coz this cost a few pennies!!

Moon Dog ‘Captain Raisin Beard’ Rum BA Imperial Stout


67552946_1134364183414392_3785834541222985728_n“Captain Raisin Beard and his motley crew of brewers ventured to the Caribbean to collect very special small batch rum barrels. These rum barrels survived the high seas and landed safely at the Port of Abbotsford where this Rum ‘n’ Raisin Imperial Stout has sat aging. This Imperial Stout is Raisin’ the bar on barrel aged greatness and this dark confectioner’s dream is full of the rum booty!”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impenetrable black with a billowing three finger tan head. It’s loose and rocky but it persists and works an excellent lacing down the glass.

Aroma: Holy moly…decadence is the name of the game here. Alluring wafts of Caribbean rum, dessicated coconut, cinnamon, oak barrels, toffee fudge, caramel, vanilla essence, fruit cake, melted chocolate, coffee and some warming booze tickling the nostrils. Man it really comes together once it settles in. This is a world class aroma right here.

Flavour: Showing a bit more aggression as opposed to the aroma. The booze burn, charred malts and bitter coffee come on hard but mellow in to those delicious Caribbean rum flavours, vanilla, chocolate, treacle, burnt brown sugar and dark caramelised fruits. Touches of woody oak and charred malt through to the drawn out finish.

Mouthfeel: Thick and viscous…some real density to it. Low co2 and high AbV – 12.9% which understandably has presence.

Overall: It has been a long time since we’ve been this impressed by a Moon Dog beer. We’re confident in saying its the best we’ve ever had from them…alongside the 2015 edition of JTS of course! All it needs is a few years in the cellar and this will really come in to its own. World class.


Bentspoke Brewing ‘Descent 19’ Russian Imperial Stout


67144560_1133881550129322_7750274120629092352_n“Introducing Bentspoke Brewing’s 5th Birthday Beer! The roasty, bitter black malt and leather-like esters from the stout integrated with the bourbon barrel ageing complete this complex and rewarding Russian Imperial Stout.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with a finger of dark brown foam emerging on top. Sturdy head retention with slightly streaky lace dragging its way down the walls of the glass.

Aroma: Wow this is surprising. Very hop driven and that has seriously caught us off guard. Almost a Juicy Fruit chewing gum like flavour which finishes just as fast as it comes. We’re absolutely baffled as to where these tropical fruity notes are coming from…and what the hell are they doing in a Russian Imperial Stout?! Still, there is a nice roasty backdrop to it…charred, smoky and oaky with a hint of cherry. Somewhat confusing.

Flavour: Again this emphasis on tropical fruit is extremely weird in a Russian Imperial Stout. Subtle cherry and other mixed berries like raspberry getting amongst it. Black forest cake, some oaky accents alongside chocolate then we get that charred, ashy and woody presence like a good ol RIS on the back palate. It’s very uncommon and it’s throwing us off…non traditional that’s for sure.

Mouthfeel: Its a whopping 10% but you don’t really get any booze burn. Its fairly nice and smooth…very texturally drinkable. Length is decent and it carries well. Full body there’s no doubt about that.

Overall: Look this is a tad confusing for us. We are sitting on the fence as we are a tad traditional here in terms of that big, dominant punch in the face RIS. The inclusion of dominant fruits has thrown us but it doesn’t mean that it’s bad it’s just a hybrid style of RIS. Craft brewing at its core methodologically speaking. Try it for yourself and judge.

Firestone Walker ’17 ‘Velvet Merkin’ BA Oatmeal Stout


66174459_1121749588009185_6528339423652741120_n“Velvet Merkin is the beer that almost wasn’t…Indeed, this vintage oatmeal stout’s comical  (or is it scandalous?) name went off the grid for several years, but now it’s back due to popular demand. Velvet Merkin is aged for a full year in retired spirits barrels from Heaven Hill, Woodford Reserve and others, yet manages to offer mind-­boggling balance and restraint.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Dark brown with a wispy tan head which retreats to the rim. The wet foam drags the lacing down the glass as it subsides. Quite a light pour for a barrel aged stout!

Aroma: What it lacks in EBC is instantly made up by huge wafts of bourbon barrels, vanilla spice, coffee, toasted coconut, dark fruits, milk chocolate, brown sugar, an undertone of honey and subtle nutty malts. The oatmeal is very faint but it provides a smooth and somewhat dry creaminess that works well alongside the rest of the rich and decadent aromas. Classy stuff.

Flavour: Incredibly smooth and effortless notes of coffee, mildly charred malts, vanilla, chocolate and bourbon barrels to the fore. Some underlying sweetness pulling it all in to line…we want to say caramel and honey but it’s thicker like molasses or toffee. Some cocoa and earthy spice forming late and rolling in to a kind of milky finish with mild roast and coffee lingering on the back palate.

Mouthfeel: So smooth, silky and creamy. Lighter in body than we had anticipated with the 8.5% AbV also very well hidden. It literally drinks like a sub 6%er. Wow!

Overall: Look it’s not the most mind-blowing barrel aged stout FW have released but it’s insanely sessional. How they mask the AbV like they do is seriously impressive. Dangerous! But impressive.

8 Wired Brewing ‘iStout’ Affogato Imperial Stout


62216818_1105067969677347_3053648324990074880_n“The “i” might be in lower case, but beware – this is a capital beer. Brimming with luscious roasted coffee and chocolate malt flavours drizzled over a scoop of velvety ice cream. iStout Affogato is balanced by a brisk bitterness and bold, hoppy freshness, remixed by the addition of lactose, coffee, and vanilla in the brew.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Dense black with a finger of brown foam which quickly deconstructs. Still seeing a healthy lace as it ebbs though.

Aroma: Smells of deep roasted coffee, vanilla, licorice, molasses, ash, chocolate, treacle, burnt toast, earthy truffle and booze as it comes up to room temperature. For one of us this is our all time favorite desert and as much as it is brilliant we can’t really get the actual true Affogato character. It kind of gets a bit diluted in this dark forest of aromas. Still a bloody top notch aroma though.

Flavour: It kicks off with an assertive espresso bitterness paired with a bit of warming booze, raw cacao, dark chocolate and a subtle line of vanilla sweetness. The coffee enjoys a 2nd wind through the mid and as it surges toward the finish it picks up burnt toast and slight smoky notes then lands on bittersweet chocolate, coffee and charred earth.

Mouthfeel: Dense and muscly…yet rather silky. Pretty well carbonated for the style with the 10% AbV poking through at times.

Overall: It’s a superb stout but we can’t help thinking why they didn’t just keep it simple? An Affogato only require three things: coffee, vanilla ice cream and Frangelico (my preference anyway). Not going to complain it is a really solid offering.

Wicked Weed ‘El Paraiso’ BA Imperial Coffee Stout


61475601_1098524066998404_5320470005836414976_n“For those who think paradise cannot be improved upon, we offer this liquid of extreme repose. Bourbon Barrel Aged El Paraiso is decadence encapsulated. Madagascaran vanilla layers with the bourbon barrel flavor in a flawless and intoxicating wave. Dark cocoa nibs and obsidian coffee lend a roasted indulgence fit for an island king. Transform your paradise, and slide in to the warmth and wonder that is Bourbon Barrel Aged El Paraiso.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with a thumb of tan foam perched on top. The head holds together well and draws a nice lace as we imbibe.

Aroma: Don’t know how many times we’ve said this over the years but the combination of coffee and dark beer makes for one of the best aromas known to man! Then add cocoa nibs to the mix and it’s a feast for the senses. It’s further complimented by a direct vanilla sweetness, woody oak and a distinct bourbon character from the barrel aging process. Caramel/toffee, maple syrup and coconut also creeping in as it warms. Good god!

Flavour: Plenty of bourbon, warming booze and woody oak tannins but where has all the decadent coffee, caramel and vanilla sweetness gone?! We can detect a bit of it but the intensity has completely dropped out. Some of the coffee tails in late but it’s more of a bitterness that pairs up with a hearty roast to finish things off. Good length on offer though.

Mouthfeel: Dense, oily and aggressive…the latter spurred on by the 11.5% AbV. Carbonation is low and the body is as full as a goog.

Overall: Brilliant aroma…not so brilliant palate. Which is such a shame because there was so much potential. That’s the 2nd one in as many weeks! We found the Dark & Stormy had the same issue. Thankfully we still have the Milk & Cookies to come – let’s hope it can break the cycle.

Wicked Weed ‘Milk & Cookies’ BA Imperial Milk Stout

61329725_1099127483604729_6003428281880150016_n“Crafting the ultimate comfort beer was a winter challenge we happily embraced. Our Milk and Cookies Stout is a cold weather classic, and this version cranks up the comfort through barrel aging. We entrusted our Imperial Milk Sout with Golden raisins, cinnamon, and vanilla into the warming embrace of Kentucky Bourbon barrels to carry us home for the holidays. Relax. Drink up. You’re home.”
Glassware: Snifter.


Appearance: Dark brown/black with a 10mm dirty looking head that has plenty of fizz but recedes rather fast, leaving a tiny rim around the glass, made up of similar minute carbonation. Thin sets of rings left behind as it ebbs.

Aroma: The first thing that springs to mind is raisin toast! Just without the cholesterol building layer of melting butter on top. Big impressions of the bourbon barrels, cookie dough, Vegemite, Anzac biscuits, brown sugar, vanilla and booze. As it breathes a bit we detect the cinnamon spice, some chocolate alongside some lactose sweetness. Pretty lush. We can really get this Imperial Milk Stout that’s brewed with golden raisins, vanilla and cinnamon…hope to really detect golden raisin.

Flavour: We’ve recently found that the intensity of Wicked Weed’s big barrel aged pastry stouts have been lacking in flavour. This does not! This one follows on with the this delicious beer version of raisin toast. Booze heat which is not overbearing, moreish cookie dough, vanilla, Anzac biscuits, sweet cinnamon, roasted caramels and a biscuity cookie dough malt, milk chocolate, stewed fruit but it’s hard to detect golden raisins per se. The bourbon barrels really drive this bad boy all the way through to the finish.

Mouthfeel: Ridiculously smooth to taste. It’s 11.3% Alc volume! It’s hidden so well. Stickiness on the lips roughly half way through but not an overpowering sweetness. Minimal bitterness makes it so easy to keep gulping down. Full bodied with great length…namely that bourbon barrel heat. Carbonation minimal as expected.

Overall: Such a tasty stout. The highlights are the bourbon barrel aging that gives it a mustiness as well as the drinkability given its pretty hefty in alcohol volume. It’s rich, but not too sweet, nice use of the cinnamon…prominent but not overdone. Bloody delicious and hard to fault. Would love a tad more raisin but sheesh don’t want to be picky!