Michael Heniff's picture

Judge's Review: 92 Rating - Once Around the Sun by Thompson Island Brewing Co.

December, 2020
Judges Rating: 
22 / 24
6 / 6
37 / 40
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
18 / 20

Once Around the Sun by Thompson Island Brewing Co. is a bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout and is being evaluated as a Specialty Wood-Aged Beer (category 33B from the 2015 BJCP Beer Style Guidelines). Specialty Wood-Aged Beers are aged in spirit barrels and should have a harmonious blend between the barrel characters (typically vanilla and toasted oak) and the barrel spirits. Imperial Stouts are noted for strong, rich chocolate and roasted malt flavors, black color with opaque clarity, and full body and smooth mouthfeel. Once Around the Sun was aged in Basil Hayden bourbon barrels and measures in at 9.2% ABV.

Once Around the Sun pours opaque black in color with a huge brown head. The aroma is of strong bourbon, toasted oak and vanilla over moderately strong roasted and chocolate malts. The flavor is of strong bourbon with barrel notes of toasted oak and vanilla that complements the moderate chocolate, roasted and dark caramel malts. The mouthfeel is similarly boozy and slightly warm (but never hot) with a medium body and a light creaminess. The beer finishes moderately light in bitterness with a wealth of bourbon and barrel notes along with rich dark malts.

Once Around the Sun is an excellent bourbon barrel-aged beer. If it has a fault, it’s that the stout is a bit too boozy; the dark malts could be a bit more forward or the bourbon a bit more restrained. Regardless, this is a very enjoyable beer to drink. Enjoy this one as a nightcap by the fire.