Fremont Brewing Company Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star: Spice Wars

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In a galaxy far, far away lies a 15 year old oak bourbon barrel.  At war, rebel spices from different backgrounds – some sweet, some unique – wreak havoc on an evil galactic oatmeal stout.  The fight for turf within the large wooden cask occurred for several months, until the human forces at Fremont Brewing decided to end it.  Racking the beer into glass bombers and sealing it with wax, the war has now reached my home front.  Who will emerge victorious: the Jedi forces of vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg or the Stromtrooping trio of allspice, ginger, and clove?   Time to run them numbers…

Appearance:  Darth Vader black with a Chubaka colored head that didn’t stick around too long.  Pours as one would hope an oatmeal stout would – rich, bold, and beautiful.

IMG_3989Smell:  Brown sugar, vanilla, molasses, bourbon, oak, clove, cinnamon, cumin, and cayenne.  This brew smells spicy like the firey pit of hell, but I got some spices on the nose that had nothing to do with this beer.  I’m interested to see if I pick up anything unique on the flavor as well.

Taste:  Oh man.  Fremont just freaking nails every damn beer.  This is no exception.  I was worried that the charred molasses smell would overpower this beer like it does with many other BA stouts, but it’s not nearly as potent in the taste.  The flavors in here deep, perplexing, and rich.  The cinnamon and vanilla were most prevalent on flavor alone as they complement the caramel richness and oaky character of the barrel.  The malts are not as pronounced due to the adjuncts, but they are deep and roasty.  I don’t get as much spicy heat on the flavor as I did on the smell, but I’m assuming that it’s the ginger on the back end that soothes the throat as I swallow.  To be frank, I don’t eat much food seasoned with nutmeg or allspice, so I cannot say much about them, however I do get some bitter and herbal notes mid palate.

IMG_3997For being a barrel aged oatmeal stout, the beer has a lightness about it.  It’s very easy to drink and the flavors in here strike a curiosity that kept me diving back in – I found the first pour to vanish quickly.  That said, the body of this beer is velvety and silky as one would expect to find in an oatmeal stout and matches the style well.  The ABV of 11% is hidden beneath a flavor profile that truly unique in a craft beer market where brewers are constantly trying to one up their peers.  And really, that’s why I have such a crush on Fremont.  They put together some head scratching combinations sometimes, but as the late Steve Jobs would say, it just works.  They deliver uniqueness, yet award winning beer that is purposeful, discerning, and most importantly, good.

Overall:  This brew gets an A+ from me.  This beer could have gone awry in so many facets, but the six spices, malts, and barrel character meld so perfectly together – a melting pot of peace, love, and harmony.  Not only did Fremont really push the boundaries here, but they were successful.  I know this breaks the theme, but it’s a beer that will make you live long and prosper.

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The Bruery Black Tuesday

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Only in America can we celebrate a holiday in which we get together with people that we love to give thanks for everything we have, then the next day we trample people in line to acquire things that we don’t.  Black Friday brings out the worst in people and it’s all over saving a few bucks on a TV, laptop, or latest widget.  And for the beer lover, it’s no better.  For us, it means trying to guess what bottle shop is going to have the variants… and if we’re limited to four regulars, it’s worse than our first break up.  To protest this madness, I’m going to pop open something pretty special that I really want to share with close friends.  Why not have a Black Tuesday on Black Friday?  And the numbers…

IMG_3778Appearance:  A rich brown, mahogany color that left no head or lacing behind.  While it wasn’t blacker and more dismal than the stock market crash in ’29, it was a beer to be taken seriously on pour alone.

Smell:  Huge bourbon notes jump from the glass coupled with dark fruits – raisins, dates, figs, and some prune.  I also get butterscotch, coconut, and caramel as well as a tremendous booziness that many turned to during the depression era.  God damn it Hoover.

Taste:  Oh man that’s tasty.  Deep, rich bourbon notes hit immediately but the sweetness of the grain oozes out.  Caramel, brown sugar, butterscotch, and toffee immediately quell much of the bourbon heat this boheamouth gives off.  The dark fruits make an appearance at the finish line as I get some raisins and figs, but nothing overpowering.  There is some presence of the oak, but it’s more seen in the bourbon – this thing wacks you with a strong whiskey uppercut.   The heat from the whiskey is also felt strongly as you get a nice burn in the back of your throat that lingers for a while.  The alcohol in this beer makes you pause before digging back into the glass, but the flavors can’t really keep you away.

The mouthfeel on Black Tuesday is medium to full bodied, but not as heavy as one would expect given the ABV.  I’ve given a lot of referIMG_3790ences to the booze in here – it’s 19.7%.  This may very well be the strongest beer I ever review on Beer Chatter.  It’s mighty powerful.  As mentioned earlier, I am going to share this bottle with friends in a couple of hours – 1, I really want them to have some 2, I would be shwasted if I didn’t, and 3, the bottle is over 2,000 calories.  You really need to split this beer if you acquire it, I’m already feeling a little tingly off of a pretty small pour thus far.  Speaking of tingly, the carbonation in here is on the bubbly side given the fact that it’s a stout.  I would prefer if it were toned down a bit, but as usual, it doesn’t take away from the beer.

Overall:  This beer is really quite tasty, but the lengths at which people go through to acquire a bottle really isn’t worth it.  I traded for this brew (and really didn’t lose my shirt over it), but there are several BA imperial stouts that can give this a run for it’s money.  Fremont Bourbon Aged Dark Star and Hoppin’ Frog Barrel Aged B.O.R.I.S. are two that come to mind, but with that said, it’s still a wonderful brew.  I’ll give it an A overall – the whiskey flavors in here are undeniable and the balance The Bruery is able to achieve given the massive ABV is impressive.  It’s worth a shot, but don’t be willing to crash your portfolio to get it.

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Fremont Brewing Company Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star: Coffee Edition

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Beer, bourbon, coffee.  Three things that quite possibly are ranked 1, 2, and 3 on my culinary must haves if stranded on a desert island.  Thankfully, I would be able to add some food on that list because Fremont decided to make a brew with all three of my favorite liquid treats.  Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star: Coffee Edition is something that comes out every fall for Seattle based Fremont Brewing.  It’s an oatmeal stout gone wild and is something that I’m willing to tame.  Will this brew be desert island quality?  Time for them numbers…

IMG_3776Appearance:  Jet black with no head.  There were some tan bubbles that I saw for a few seconds until they vanished into the abyss.

Smell:  Big coffee nose with a light bourbon smell and some roasted, charred grain coming through.  There is no mistaking this for a coffee stout.  I also get some oaky tannins from the wood, but am surprised that I’m not getting more bourbon.  Fremont has a way to subtly let you know that their beers are barrel aged off of aroma.

Taste:  Oh my goodness.  This stout is incredible!  First thing I notice is vanilla, butterscotch, and caramel.  The toasted oak really imparts a lot of flavor in here without it being overly bourbony, although you do get a meaningful bourbon presence on the back end of this beer.  The bourbon and the booze found in this brew leave you with some heat in the back of the throat, but what else would you expect at 29 proof?  The coffee makes its way into the beer imparting some bitterness and additional roast, and its a little more subdued than the smell would suggest, but it’s definitely there.  The whiskey really rounds things out hIMG_3775ere – as mentioned before, it does not at all dominate the flavor of the beer but adds a lot of character with oak, vanilla, caramel, and bourbon flavors.

As alluded to earlier, this beer is a massive 14.5% ABV.  It drinks a little hot because of it, but it does not distract from the rest of the brew.  The mouthfeel on Coffee KDS is nice and silky with the addition of oats, and something that trumps BCBCS.  The carbonation is fine (if anything it’s lacking a bit) but I’d prefer that in a big ABV stout.  All of the factors combined makes this beer fairly drinkable, but the heat makes it a 2+ hour beer for sure.  I’m confident that I’ll finish it in one sitting, but it’s likely best to be shared.

Overall:  This is one heck of a BA coffee stout.  The flavors from the wood, the coffee, and the bourbon really come together and make this a memorable beer.  There are several of these blue waxed beers hanging out in my cellar, but I wanted to drink one fresh just for kicks; I am certain with age this beer will only get better.  It’ll be interesting drinking one of these with a few years on it.  All said and done, I have to give this Fremont an A.  Had this review taken place a year from now, it may get a different rating, but I’m judging with what I have in front of me.  Fremont shines again, and they can do no wrong.

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Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout

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If you’re a beer nerd, you know the appeal that “Bourbon County” has.  Their regular stout is much acclaimed, their barley wine is searched for, their varients are almost impossible to land, and their coffee stout requires some persistence to find in most liquor stores.  Well, persistence paid off for me.  I was lucky enough to purchase this brew a couple of years ago from a package store that knows my face and told myself I’d drink it on a special occasion.  That occasion happens to be today.  Why?  Because I’m sick of waiting.  Let’s figure out if the hype behind this beer is deserved.  Time for them numbers…

IMG_3746Appearance:  Jet black in color with no head.  Carbonation was apparent when I preyed off the cap, but I guess the ABV is keeping the froth away from this one.

Smell:  Rich dark coffee, faint bourbon, roasted and charred grain, molasses, and some spice (faint pepper).  Smell is pretty nice, but that spice is something I wasn’t expecting.  I doubt it will show up in the flavor, but there’s only one way to find out.

Taste:  Lucious.  I get more bourbon in the taste than I did in the smell – it hits you with a large whiskey presence and a touch of vanilla and caramel sweetness warming all the way to the core while easing the burn at the same time.  The grains in here are not to be forgotten about as they complement the bourbon with a rich and roasty taste – some toasted almond and coconut notes are coming out which are also likely accentuated by the wood and whiskey.  Even though this stout is less than a month from being 2 years old, the coffee can still be found.  It’s not as prominent as I would have thought, but it is there and it is delicious.  It of course adds some depth of flavor, to the beer, but also imparts a little bitterness to hold at bay the sweeter flavors identified before.  As I’m about halfway through the bottle, I also notice some maple syrup flavors that are staring to sprout in my palate.  Love the sweetness I’m getting from this brew.

The carbonation from BCBCS was present.  Although it left no head, the bubbles were more than I was expecting from a beer oIMG_3763f this style and would have actually prefered it to be toned down a tad.  Doesn’t impact the beer a whole lot, but just being a little nit-picky.  The mouthfeel on the brew is solid, but again would like it to be a little more hefty.  The addition of oats would do this beer wonders; why they don’t choose to chuck them in the boil is something that I won’t ever understand.  Regardless, the mouthfeel is on the heavier side, but I’d like to see a little more heft.  The ABV was big at 13.4% – and you could feel it – however it was actually very easy to drink despite this.  The flavors in here were on point.

Overall:  This is a decadent bourbon aged coffee stout.  I enjoyed drinking this very much, but the little things could have really made this a HOF beer – more mouthfeel, less carb, slightly more coffee in taste.  However, as the Rolling Stones once said, you can’t always get what you want.  So what are we left with?  A beer that has incredible flavor and an elusiveness that’s Barry Sanders-esque.  Overall, I’d give this brew an A: great flavors all around, however since this is so tough to find, I have to give it a knock there and down grade it to an A-.  If you have regular bourbon county, I don’t think this is all that much different since flavors of coffee prominent in that stout.  It’s worth a shot to find it, but I wouldn’t give up my first born.

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Pelican Brewing Mother of All Storms

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I got caught in a horrid rain storm in Maine one time.  My radio told me to expect hurricane like winds and rains, and if possible to pull over on the side of the road.  That same day, my then girlfriend (now wife) was supposed to visit me in while I was living there the summer of 2008.  I knew if I told her about the weather, she’d immediately freak out and could very likely blame me for such an atrocious trip up from Connecticut.  Luckily we all made it “home” safe… pretty anticlimactic story I  know.  Luckily this blog is about craft beer rather than the Screens Actor Guild.  While we were just a couple of fools in the rain, it could have been a much more serious situation… it could have been…….. the MOTHER OF ALL STORMS!!!  Although for that to happen, we would have needed some bourbon and barleywine.  Why?  Because that’s what the good people from Pelican Brewing out of Oregon do when they’re hit with some gales and droplets.  A barleywine aged in Bourbon barrels is the perfect shelter for the storm.  Let’s see if we can validate that… time to run them numbers…

IMG_3685Appearance:  Looks black on camera, but the edges are a deep mahogany.  Absolutely zero head on this brew even with a straight down the middle pour; it also left no lacing as I drank.

Smell:  Bourbon, wood, caramel, toffee, pecan, booze, butterscotch, and vanilla.  For being so bourbon and boozy, this beer smells pretty sweet.  I dig the flavors that are going on in here because I prefer these mellow, sweeter tones from the whiskeys I drink.

Taste:  Ok… so this is going to be a two part tasting notes of Dr. Jekyll (this beer straight from the fridge) and Mr. Hyde (as it warmed).  This is Jekyll:

Really sweet, and not so much in the butterscotch toffee range, but in the simple syrup, sugary range.  For a beer with such a big booze punch, it kind of falls flat in flavor.  Initially I get those hints of toffee, wood, and caramel, but very quickly they turn to straight sugar.  The finish of this brew is sugar galore, which leaves the palate disappointed – it kind of reminds me of crunching into the stick of a Fun Dip.  Flat towards the end with not a lot of interesting tones.  It was fairly complex to start, but just does not have enough staying power to keep those waves of flavor cresting repeatedly.

Mr. Hyde:

So as this beer warms, it starts to open up… really gets to know you.  Those sweet flavors I got from Jekyll are still there, but they begin to mingle more with the bourbon, the booze, the wood, and the caramel.  The super sugary finish I got from Jekyll begin to fade and it closes with more authIMG_3681ority than Mariano Rivera – sweetness, toffee, cookie, and boooooooooooze.  You can taste the 14% bite on the way down, as opposed to when this beer was a little too frigid, it was like I was drinking a 7% brown ale.  This beer with a few degrees on it changes it completely.  It just goes to show the nuances of craft beer – it can change quicker than than Superman in a phone booth with the slightest influences.

The body on Mother of All Storms was fairly thick, but didn’t taste so (if that makes sense).  The sugary liquid left a coating on the teeth and tongue, but went down easily with a buttery and velvety body.  As mentioned, this beer clocks in at a Charlie Sheen like 14% ABV and is perfect to nurse… it only gets better as it sits.  The carbonation was present, but was kind of like the noise generated from a high school football game… just barely there but enough to make the ambiance.

Overall:  I was so ready to give this beer a C+, but honesty, the Brits may be up to something drinking all their suds warm.  Hyde was so much better – a lot more cohesive than Jekyll.  This brew is still a tad sweet for my tastes, but it is a powerfully boozy barley wine, so it’s to be expected to some extent.  I wish it had a little more roastiness to balance out the sugar, but c’est la vie.  I enjoyed this brew and respect it for what it is.  With some degrees on it, I’ll give it a B+.  Wouldn’t mind hunkering down with this during a storm.

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Mikkeller Bourbon Barrel Aged Beer Geek Brunch Weasel

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What always makes things better?  Bourbon.  This American made elixir is fantastic on its own, but elevates other culinary goodies to a new level, most notably beer.  Mikkeller embraces the gift of bourbon and has allowed one of their better brews to rest in its barrel, Beer Geek Brunch Weasel.  This beer is packed with oats, coffee, charred grain, and of course, some of that vanillay, caramelly bourbon.  Enough said, let’s run them numbers!

IMG_3624Appearance:  Jet black, no head, no lacing as I drank, no more to say.

Smell:  Bourbon, molasses, chocolate, roasted grain, coffee, slight smoke, slightly tannic, and hints of vanilla.  This beer smells big, bold, and in your face – very much like the original version.

Taste:  Oh dear lord, this beer is insane.  On first taste there is so much going on: coffee, graham cracker, bourbon, roasted grain, vanilla… and those flavors are all identified individually, but also collaborate brilliantly with one another.  The depth of flavor in here is what makes this beer so great.  It starts off strong and finishes with the same tenaciousness.  The bourbon lingers from across the palate and its presence can be found from sip to swallow imparting whiskey flavors as well as cinnamon and vanilla.  The base of this beer is strong enough to hold up to the bourbon aging with a ton of coffee breaking through pairedIMG_3635 with grain that has a nice, deep toast to it.  The finish to this beer is ever so slightly bitter which can be attributed to the tannins in the wood or the bite of the coffee, either way it actually works with the other aggressive flavors in the brew.

The mouthfeel on BA Brunch was full bodied and silky smooth as if Mikkeller added tons of oats to the mash.  The carbonation was light as it should have been for an imperial stout and the ABV on this brew was 10.9%, which is actually the same as the non BA version.  You can taste a little more booze here, but it does not overshadow the flavors; with that said, it also is pretty drinkable for a BA stout.  I found my teku to be empty earlier than I wanted.

Overall:  This beer is awesome.  I loved the original beer, but the Bourbon aging process just elevates this to another level.  So many flavors, yet very cohesive at the same time gives this beer an A/A+.  The only think I would ask Mikkeller to improve upon is the finish, but that’d be really splitting hairs.  Enjoy this beer with a bourbon chaser.

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Mikkeller Bourbon Barrel Aged Brian

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They say boxing is a dead sport… but Brian is leading a comeback.  This imperial porter soaked in bourbon barrels can deliver fierce right hooks paired with mandible crushing uppercuts that would knock even the most seasoned craft beer aficionados to the ropes.  Brewed by everybody’s favorite gypsy brewer, Mikkeller, I’m very curious to see how this will size up to other barrel aged porters/stouts.  Mikkeller does put into the ring a non BA version of Brian, which has its own acclaimed reviews, but I have never been able to get my gloves on it.  The only way to get an advnatave of this brew is to get in the first punch… time for them numbers.

IMG_3564Appearance:  Black with a dark tank head that actually laced as I drank.  I’ll get to the mouthfeel soon enough, but it was so think that it tinted the glass after I was done drinking.

Smell:  Dark and roasty – grains, chocolate and liquorish.  Surprisingly, very little bourbon is jumping out at me on the aroma – I get more oak than anything from the barrels, but sometimes it can be hidden in aroma and overt in taste.

Taste:  I realize that this is very viscus.  The mouthfeel on this brew is super thick which is the first thing I notice about the beer.  Once this liquid oil is on the palate, a bunch of flavors jump out, most prominently roasted grain.  This has a very toasty kick which is complemented by roasted almonds, cookie, chocolate, coffee, and mild raisin flavors.  I’m really surprised to see the bourbon taking a backseat in this brew, but all the flavors of a porter are the biggest stars of this teku.  I get most of the bourbon on the finish with hints of vanilla, figs, smoke, and oak.  That bourbon whiskey flavor lasts for a long time after I sip and is just warming enough, however, this beer is anything but hot.  The alcohol in here isn’t noticeable at all… maybe on the firsIMG_3560t few sips, but after that, this is so incredibly easy drinking.  for a 12.3% ABV beer, that’s a hard thing to do, hats off to Mikkeller for that.

With that bolstered ABV follows a thicker, full bodied mouthfeel, as I mentioned before.  That robust body lends itself to the very mild carbonation in this beer which is appropriate for the style, but something I would label as under carbonated for almost any other beer.  Again, its drinkability was great for the big beer that this was.

Overall:  This is a fantastic beer, and one that I enjoyed more as I drank more.  This beer also was great on the warmer side and really opened up – all of the components gelled well together.  I have to give Barrel Aged Brian an A-/A.  I personally could have used a bit more bourbon, but it still was a great beer any way you cut it.  And for Brian, Mick may be coming sooner than later.

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Fremont Brewing Company Bourbon Abominable with Coffee & Cinnamon

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Germany purity laws state that beer must only be brewed with four ingredients: water, grain, hops, and yeast.  Nothing more.  Thank god for rebel rousers.  Fremont Brewing spits in the face of those uptight Germans with their highly touted adjunct ale that not only has coffee and cinnamon to boot, but is also bourbon aged to perfection.  I have already reviewIMG_1653ed their Bourbon Abominable (AKA B-Bomb) and loved it – so much flavor and so drinkable for the style that it is, I can only imagine how this version of Abominable will be.  Let’s start imagining… time for the numbers.

Appearance:  Jet black with a dark khaki head that did lace a slightly as I drank from my old fashion NEBCo pint glass.

Smell:  Big bourbon presence, some roasted grain, oak, a little sugaIMG_1664r, but honesty – not much coffee and just a hint of cinnamon.

Taste:  Wow, again so incredible just like its younger brother.  Big vanilla flavors coming out initially and some sweetness for sure.  It tastes very similar to a roasted marshmallow – sugary, sweet, roasty.  The bourbon is definitely making an appearance in the brew, but it’s more subdued than the regular B-Bomb.  You get it all throughout the drinking experience, but it’s all flavor and no burn – which I love out of bourbon aged stouts.  I want it to be there, but I also want it to let the subtleties of the beer to shine through as well.  One subtlety that did not make it through was the coffee from this brew as I found it to be lacking In taste and aroma.  I really like my dark roasts, but the other adjunct can be identified as the beer has a spicy finish.  A little oak is tucked away mid palate the grain isn’t as prominent or roasty, but still seen underneath the sweeter flavors of the beer.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied to me and can benefit from oats, however that thinner mouthfeel equates to supreme drinkability.  For 11% ABV, this brew goes down easy.  I was finished with my first pint pretty quickly andIMG_1674 dived back into the bottle immediately for the second helping.

Overall:  I enjoyed this beer quite a bit.  I thought the coffee would put it over the top from the regular B-Bomb, but it was pretty subdued in my opinion.  I should also clearly state that I like my cup of joe black and the darkest roast possible.  Others may be able to find it, but for my palate, it was playing hide and seek.  Everything else about this brew was on point.  I think age may thicken up this beer a bit, but I’m not sure if one would be able to get more coffee with age.  That said, I’d have to give this beer an A, just like regular B-Bomb.  It’s wonderful, but I really wish the coffee was more in your face.  Love the creativity seen in this brew that you wont see in any pure German.

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Omnipollo Bourbon Barrel Aged Hypnopompa

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Ever have the feeling that somebody is watching you?  As I was walking through isles of the package store I bought this in, I noticed this beer.  It seemed to be afraid to make direct eye contact with me, but when I found out it was a bourbon aged stout brewed with marshmallows and vanilla beans from Tahiti, I didn’t think it’d be too shy.  I decided to pull the trigger this past summer, knowing that it would be reserved for the winter.  Although it’s early March, it’s still enough time to squeeze this beer in before the trees start to bud.  Let’s run them numbers…

IMG_1595Appearance:  Jet black with a little dark khaki head that dissipated quickly.  On the pour, the beer slowly matriculated into the glass giving me a sense of how dense it will likely be.

Smell:  Molasses, bourbon, roasted grain, dates, figs, dark fruits, and a little vanilla.  You can tell this is going to be a dark and robust stout – it smells like a Russian winter. 

Taste:  Huge roasted grain profile that is hearty and scorched.  Toasted rye bread, coffee, cigar smoke, and creme brulee topping are all things coming to my mind when sipping on this.  The bourbon might be in there, but it’s so difficult to tell over the hellacious malts used but you do get it in the burn.  That says something when the malt profile is more pronounced than the bourbon.  Very little sweetness and vanilla come out in the brew even though it’s concocted with marshmallows and vanilla bean.  The flavors in here are really a one trick pony, yet the beer still seems to be all over the place.  Mostly, I get charred graiIMG_1603n and a nice alcohol burn all the way to the stomach.

Although the label says 11.2% ABV, I wouldn’t question somebody if they said it was 18%.  I drinks much higher than the label would suggest.  I wouldn’t attribute the heat in this brew to its youth as it’s been aged for about two years, which is long enough to calm things down.  The alcohol in here also attributes to the viscous and oily mouthfeel making this beer a sipper for sure.  Thank god it’s only an 11.2 oz bottle, there would be no way a mere human could finish 22 ounces of this.

Overall:  As you could probably imagine, this beer doesn’t get the highest of ratings from me.  It’s not as balanced as I would like to see out of BA stout and is just a little too much.  I’d give it a B- overall – would love to see more complexity out of this glaring beer.

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Fremont Brewing Company Bourbon Abominable

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Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Nessi, Yetis, and… snowmen?  Yes… abominable snowmen.  These these mythical giants tend to roam all over the world but are more elusive than a greased pig, Emmitt Smith circa 1992, or that girl at the bar who gave you a fake number.  Lucky I was able to hunt one of these creatures down.  It hails from the land of rain, forests, and one word answers to football press conferences.  Located in the northwestern United States, Freemont Abominable isn’t just any rabid snowman, this guy has been caged up in bourbon barrels for a year, making it extra aggressive and hard to hunt down.  Can this wild beast be tamed?  Time for the numbers…IMG_1537

Appearance:  Jet black with a kakhi color head that cascaded into the pint glass.  It didn’t stick around too long and there wasn’t much lacing from this beer as I drank.  The beer lightened up towards the edges, but was still quite dark.

Smell:  Vanilla, bourbon, maple syrup, molasses, nutmeg, cinnamon, and oak.  Of the bourbon aged beers I’ve had on Beer Chatter, I think the smell of this one has to be one of the best, if not the best.  So much going on in the smell, but all of the flavors complement one another.  I can’t wait to dig in.

Taste:  So incredibly balanced and wildly complex.  At first I get vanilla, oak, and bourbon, but the flavors meld so nicely together it’s almost impossible to individually pick them out.  Some coffee gets introduced midpalate as well as a rostyness from the grain.  The bourbon presence in here is not at all overpowering, which I was a little worried about.  However, I must admit, I do enjoy my barrel proof whiskeys so my palate may not recognize the punchyness of the booze, but trust me – there is plenty going on in here from beginning to end.  Speaking of departures, FrIMG_1546emont ordered up a Venti Mocha Frappachino as a parting gift for you.  The finish comes in with chocolate, coffee, and lactose – I don’t want it to go away… I hope this bottle has Everlasting Gobstopper abilities.

All of the flavors in this brew make it so wonderful to drink.  Although it’s 11% ABV, it goes down easily.  In part it’s because of the medium bodied mouthfeel and also the carbonation, which you don’t even notice.  In the case of barrel aged stouts winter ales, that’s a good thing. 

Overall:  I cannot believe the job Fremont did here.  Their slogan of “because beer matters” is readily apparent in the craftsmanship of this brew.  I would give this beer a grade of an A, easily.  It beats out barrel aged B.O.R.I.S. and is on the same tier as Backyard Rye.  I am really excited to try the coffee cinnamon version of this brew, and I’m thinking the rating on that is already a foregone conclusion.  Abominable is perfect for a February hunt.

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