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Brad Darnell's picture

Judge's Review: 91 Rating - Epitaph Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout by Heathen Brewing

February, 2018
Judges Rating: 
22 / 24
5 / 6
37 / 40
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
18 / 20

Bourbon Barrel Epitaph by Heathen Brewing is a Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout and is being evaluated as a Specialty Wood-Aged Beer (2015 BJCP Category 33B) according to BJCP guidelines. For this style expect the base beer style blended well with characteristics picked up during the wood aging (including alcoholic products previously in contact with the wood). The best examples will be smooth, flavorful, well-balanced and well-aged.

Pours opaque black with a medium, creamy and thick brown head, medium retention with some lacing. Aroma of sweet and spicy floral alcohol, light oak tannins and rich dark chocolate malt. Light background earthy and woody hop notes provide depth to the aroma. Chewy sweet and dark chocolate malt, roast notes, prunes, figs, dates and a sweet yet drying finish. The balance is clearly to the malt. Full body, medium carbonation and light alcohol warmth.

Sweet vanilla and a caramel character emerges with time as does powdered bitter dark cocoa. The alcohol character cuts the richness and thickness of the malt back and allows a myriad of secondary notes to emerge. Bold and rich with a velvety texture, enjoy this beer by itself as a winter sipper or alongside rich, fruit-filled chocolate truffles.