I bet you the Geico gecko is probably the first one out of the office on a Friday, and therefore, the first one on a bar stool for the company happy hour. He just seems like a party
animal reptile to me. The artwork on this label reminds me of an artist’s rendition of how that gecko unwinds while at the bar. Carefree and letting everybody know he’s having a good time. There’s only one issue with my thought process here: the label sports a frog. A Hoppin’ Frog to be exact and he’s not in the insurance business, but in the libation business. This brewery from Ohio brings us a barrel aged oatmeal Russian imperial stout. That’s a bit of a mouthful, so to shorten things up, we’ll just call this Russian (stereotypically I might add) B.O.R.I.S. Is this brew the perfect for a Siberian hibernation or is it still living in the Soviet Union? Time to run them numbers…
Smell: Rich bourbon notes, dark chocolate ganache, vanilla, oak, and toasted grain. This is insane – the beer really reminds me of a magnificently rich and dense dark chocolate cake you’d find for dessert at an expensive restaurant. It’s so inviting, like finding a wood stove in the tundra.
Taste: Absolutely fantastic. The most noticeable element is the viscoscity of this brew. The body is so lush and velvety that it makes me think B.O.R.I.S. traveled down China’s silk road before it found it’s final resting place in my fridge. I bet Hoppin’ Frog used copious amounts of oats in here.
It may seem insulting to say that the first thing I noticed from a bourbon barrel aged Russian imperial was the mouthfeel, since there are so many other wonderful things going on inside the glass. The flavor here is on point – the assertiveness of the bourbon is readily apparent in every sip, adding a warming booziness from your mouth to your stomach. However, its pink elephant presence does not stomp out the flavors from the grains. I get toasted oat, toasted coconut, roasted malt, chocolate, the slightest bit of coffee, and some vanilla from the beer. In other bourbon aged stouts, this does not tend to be the case as often is the case, the bourbon is the only star within the brew, however everything melds together here flawlessly. The oak and richness from the grains adds a little bit of bitterness at the finish, but it’s more on the lines of a dark chocolate bitterness and not something you’d find in an IPA (even though there are 60 IBUs in this brew).
The ABV on B.O.R.I.S. comes in at 9.4%, which is strong, but relatively tame considering the style of this beer. As mentioned earlier, the mouthfeel is perfect and the carbonation brilliantly complements the silky body of this beer. It’s on the undercarbed side, but that’s what I want in my stout.
Overall: This is something that the gecko would surely poor in his pint. It is nicely balanced and easy drinking earning this Hoppin’ Frog an A. I’d take this over Bourbon County any day. Grab a bottle – it drinks best on the coldest day of the year.