Downtown Spirits - Seattle

Beer Blog #3

3/26/15

 

This week is a big week for beer lovers around the country. It’s the release of, arguably, the best barrel aged imperial stout on the market. It’s the annual Firestone Walker Parabola release!!! This is bigger than the nationwide Black Friday release of Bourbon County, which is the godfather of barrel aged stouts. It’s bigger than a fresh batch of Pliny. This king among men is a once a year opportunity to enjoy the pinnacle of what barrel aged stouts should taste like. It’s so velvety soft yet powerful, so dark and rich yet full of subtleties, and so goddamn delicious that it’s a shame it only comes out once a year in a very limited fashion. But that’s the catch. It’s so limited that it’s hard to get your hands on. Does that increase the perceived value of it? Maybe, but you can say that about any extremely limited release beer. The bottles I received in my shop barely lasted a couple hours, and those that got it were excited they were even able to get one. Is it worth the time and money to track down a bottle of this exemplary beer? Yes! Yes it is. It truly is one of the greatest beers on the planet. That’s not an exaggeration. The exaggeration is that it’s one of the only bourbon barrel stouts, along with KBS, Bourbon County, and a few others, that is worth tracking down and drinking. Sure, it might be the Da Vinci of barrel aged stouts, but that doesn't mean Caravaggio, Botticelli, and Michelangelo were slouches. In a lot of ways, they defined the renaissance more than Da Vinci did, and it’s the same with beer. One person gets the recognition as the best, while the rest toil away under his shadow. Well, here’s to stepping out of the shadow. If you weren't able to find yourself a bottle of the elusive Parabola, then try one of these beers. They're also hard to find, but with all the hype surrounding the king, it’s easier to find a prince on the shelf. They'll satisfy your craving for big, boozy, bourbon (or at least whiskey) filled stout and leave you wondering if you really do the need the king.

 

 

Avery Brewing Uncle Jacob’s Stout

Registering in at 16.9% Abv, this bourbon barrel aged imperial stout is a heavyweight. Its boozy punch is softened by dark chocolate, black coffee, and vanilla flavors, but man does it deliver a blow to the palate. The bourbon hits you hard at the beginning, like a Mike Tyson punch, but rounds into a powerful and graceful dance of flavors, like Mohammed Ali. At the end of the glass, it will leave you craving for more. This is definitely a beer that will only get better with time, but don’t let that stop you from drinking one now.

 

Lost Abbey Track #10

This might be my favorite bottle of barrel aged stout of the past year. The late addition in the aging process of cocoa nibs and coffee are balanced perfectly with the opulent, bourbon barrel aged Serpent Stout. Dark chocolate and raisins give way to the taste of fresh brewed coffee and vanilla notes from bourbon barrels. I can't speak highly enough about this beer. It’s absolutely fantastic. It’s like if Serpent Stout was Mario then Track #10 is Mario in the raccoon suit. Throwing fireballs will only get you so far, but in the raccoon suit, you can fly. And this beer is soaring.

 

North Coast Barrel Aged Old Rasputin

The regular Old Rasputin is my favorite regularly available russian imperial stout on the market. The barrel aged version takes it to new heights. It’s so dark and rich that it makes Wesley Snipes jealous. For several years, it has been on my collectors list, and I recently did a 4 year vertical. Every one of them was different. The newer vintages have a sharp edge, like Nino Brown in New Jack City, with heavy bourbon flavors dominating the rich chocolate and coffee of the beer. The older versions, like Blade, have a beautiful roundness where each side complements the other; the bourbon mellows and the coffee and chocolate shine through in a beautiful symphony of taste. Choose your poison on this one. Are you a Nino or Blade kind of drinker? Both are fantastic, so you can't go wrong either way.

 

To Ol Sort Maelk Barrel Aged Imperial Milk Stout

This is the only beer in this blog post that isn't aged in bourbon barrels. Instead, it’s aged in scotch barrels. It’s such a luscious combination, that I had to share this Danish treat. The fullness of the imperial milk stout blends perfectly with the subtle smokiness of the scotch barrel. Unfortunately, this is harder to find than the Parabola. But like I said in the beginning, sometimes the best things are overlooked and sit on shelves just waiting for you to find it.

Written by Jon Olken — March 26, 2015

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