David Sapsis's picture

88 Rating: 2017 Pugachev's Cobra by Hangar 24 Craft Brewing

January, 2018
Judges Rating: 
22 / 24
5 / 6
36 / 40
8 / 10
Overall Impression: 
17 / 20

This beer was judged as a Specialty Wood-Aged Beer with alcohol characteristics from the previous use of the barrel, BJCP category 33B.  Served at 55F.

I'm served a large tulip glass of obsidian-colored beer topped with mocha-brown foam of mixed-size bubbles that shows a limited stand. The beer appears to be only modestly conditioned.

The aroma is bright and very roasty up front, with notes of dark chocolate, french-roast coffee and dark soy sauce, and an underlayment of butterscotch, warmed by appreciable alcohol sweetness. Some faint vanilla and dark-candied fruit notes (prunes, dates, figs) round out the nose with complexity, but an overriding deep and acidic roast character mixed with ethanol dominates.

The flavor is big and lush in the beginning with roasty dark malt bitterness more prevalent than the hop character; dominant flavors of dark-roast coffee, dark bittersweet chocolate, soy sauce, black licorice, bourbon and a ketone/ caramel-butter note intermingle with a pronounced alcohol shot occurring mid-palate. The finish is mildy dry with a lingering acrid bitterness countered by a light maple syrup element. Mouthfeel is full and relatively high in astringency. Conditioning is low, as is creaminess. The flavor, while complex, lacks some of the rich warmth and creamy smoothness found in well-aged examples. The relatively forward roasty/acidic bite (along with the brown foam) indicates to me a high ration of roast/black material in the grist, which, while absolutely fine in Imperial Stouts, might need a bit of cellar time to tame. While the beer is a big, bold and roasty beast of beer as it stands, I am confident it will improve with a year or two of cellaring to round out the acidity, tame the forward nature of the roasted material and bring forth some more pronounced fruitiness.