Sal Mortillaro II's picture

Judge's Review: 97 Rating - Situational Ethics - Apple Brandy by Monday Night Brewing

February, 2020
Judges Rating: 
24 / 24
6 / 6
38 / 40
10 / 10
Overall Impression: 
19 / 20

Situational Ethics - Apple Brandy by Monday Night Brewing is being judged as a Specialty Wood-Aged Beer (Category 33B), with an Imperial Stout base beer (Category 20C) per the 2015 BJCP Guidelines. This apple brandy barrel aged Imperial Stout with honey and vanilla beans added is part of the Situational Ethics series by Monday Night Brewing. 

This beer pours a very dark brown color with opaque clarity due to the color of the beer. A mocha-colored sudsy head consisting of large bubbles is sustained and lasts the entire time. As the beer was being presented, I could smell notes of the apple brandy from almost two feet away hinting at the treat I was about to have. As I held the beer in my hand, I could smell medium notes of apple brandy and low notes of chocolate behind. An underlying hint of sweetness was apparent. On the sip, medium-high apple brandy is at the forefront with medium dark chocolate, very low vanilla and low roast manifest and mixed with the lingering apple brandy notes. Bitterness is medium and appears to be manifested from the dark malt of the base recipe. There is no detectable hop flavor in this beer. This beer finishes dry and is assisted by the fermented honey addition and slight astringency of the stout base recipe. The aftertaste is a complex lingering of chocolate, apple, bitterness and a touch of roast. This beer is full bodied with a low carbonation (no doubt hindered by the viscosity of the beer's body). There is a medium-low alcohol warmth, which is pleasant and a low astringency from the roasted malts. Overall, this is quite a lovely beer and a real treat to drink. This is a very well executed base stout recipe that shows excellent use of the apple brandy barrel. This beer has depth, character and complexity without being fatiguing. In a time where pastry stouts are typically cloyingly sweet and overdone, this beer reminds us that balance and complexity and (sometimes) restrained refinement is better.