Scott Birdwell's picture

Judge's Review: 91 Rating - Lyrical Poet by Sun King Brewery

June, 2019
Judges Rating: 
22 / 24
6 / 6
37 / 40
8 / 10
Overall Impression: 
18 / 20

Lyrical Poet by Sun King Brewery is an Imperial Stout aged with chocolate and raspberries for 13 months in bourbon whiskey barrels. It is considered a Mix-Style Beer (category 34B in the BJCP Guidelines). The trick with these mixed style beers is balancing the two different styles. Imperial Stouts are known as some of the strongest and most assertive of beers, with alcohol contents well into the double digit range. These beers are complex with overtones of coffee and semi-sweet dark chocolate with a rich malt structure underneath the pronounced roast grain character. These strong beers are typically aged for over a year, lending notes of port and sherry to the character. Lyrical Poet is no exception to these rules. It pours opaquely dark with an inviting lace of tan head.  While the head is not as thick and as rich as one might anticipate, the elevated alcohol content, as so often is the case, inhibits head retention. My initial impression of the beer was that the aroma and flavor were closed in and subdued. However, as the sample warmed up a bit, these elements became very evident. The aroma is one of roast grain and bourbon barrel. This is quite powerful. After the initial punch of this blend, the raspberries cut through and you feel like you’ve hit the jackpot in the box of chocolates!  The raspberries do overpower the chocolate, but play surprisingly nicely with the roast grain and bourbon. The finish is one of yeast and sherry notes from the extended aging. Very enticing!

Lyrical Poet’s flavor is as spot on target as is the aroma. Yes, it’s boozy, but in a good way. The alcohol doesn’t overpower the palate, but you have no doubt this packs a wallop! First, the bourbon barrel asserts itself, then the roasty stout character kicks in.  This is all intermingled with notes of dark fruit, toffee, and, yes, some chocolate. The hopping is noticeable, but restrained. Assertive hop bitterness would clash with the mocha and raspberry notes in the finish. That finish is surprisingly smooth for a beer of this strength. It rolls over your palate with a texture that can only be described as “luxurious!” The extensive aging lends that port/sherry vinous character that works well in this beer.  It is smooth, but not syrupy in any way, even after the carbonation level has dissipated.

If I had to nit-pick, my only criticism is that I would like to see a little more of the “chocolate” character come through. Overall, I was very impressed with this beer. It strikes the balance that is so difficult in a mixed style. The raspberries and the bourbon barrel assert themselves, but do not dominate. The imperial stout holds its own.  It is a delicate balance in a beer that is anything but delicate. Yes, I’m going to finish this glass and enjoy every drop! Cheers!