Name: Storming the Emperor’s Castle: BA Rhum / Vanilla
Brewers: Castle Rock Brewery, Emperor’s Brewery (United Kingdom)
Style: Mixed-Style Beer (Base Style: Imperial Stout)
Review Year: 2021
Storming the Emperor’s Castle: BA Rhum/ Vanilla is the second barrel-aged iteration of the Imperial Stout brewed by Castle Rock Brewery in collaboration with Darth Damian Doherty of Emperor’s Brewery. This variant of Storming the Emperor’s Castle was aged in French Antillean Rhum barrels for several months over organic Tahitian vanilla pods.
This beer is being evaluated as a Mixed-Style Beer (34B), combining Specialty Wood-Aged Beer (33B) and Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer (30A), with Imperial Stout (20C) as the base style in the context of the 2015 Beer Style Guidelines of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP). The most current version of the guidelines can be found on the BJCP website.
Opaque deep brown almost black. The initial aroma was of faint chocolate, but as the beer settled, its true colors started to show. Moderate yet diverse scents of chocolate, toffee, fruits (prunes, cherries), oak, alcohol, and low vanilla surfaced. Full-bodied, medium-low carbonation with a smooth, velvety mouthfeel, and moderately low astringency. An intense flavor of dark chocolate was noted up front, backed by moderate rum, toasted vanilla, dark fruit with low hints of wood and lychee. Others noted more of the oak, licorice, and subtle hints of brown sugar. Perceived bitterness was moderate, overlapping with the toasty and dark chocolate notes mentioned. Semi-dry, bittersweet finish; the aftertaste lingered with bittersweet dark chocolate and low lychee impressions. No harsh or hot alcohol qualities.
This version of Storming the Emperor’s Castle is easily another outstanding Imperial Stout that delivered on its promise. At its core, this beer really showcased the hallmark dark chocolate malt backbone and bitterness of a well-brewed Imperial Stout. We have also noticed that this dark chocolate malt character is a common denominator in Darth Damian’s Imperial Stouts. Dark fruit qualities were also noted and added more complexity to this beer.
The rum barrel conditioning was evident in the aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel, with the moderately low astringency likely tannin-derived. Astringency can be expected from beers aged or conditioned in wood, but it should never be high. The advertised vanilla was also picked up in the aroma, but we were surprised it also surfaced as a flavor. Maybe this was aided by the additional vanillin from the rum and/or wood.
With this exceptional brew, we now look forward to reviewing the recently released iteration of Storming the Emperor’s Castle aged in rum barrels for 12 months. Enjoy this while rewatching Anakin and the 501st storm the Jedi Temple.
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Co-Founder & Beer Chronicler