Name: Blended Imperial Stout
Brewer: Westbound & Down Brewing Company (United States)
Style: Specialty Wood-Aged Beer (Base Style: Imperial Stout)
Review Year: 2021
Blended Imperial Stout by Westbound & Down Brewing Company from Idaho Springs (Colorado) is a concoction blended with a 21-month-old Heaven Hill Rye and Dickel barrel-aged Double Absence Imperial Stout.
This beer is being evaluated as a Specialty Wood-Aged Beer (33B) with the 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; low brown head. A moderate dark chocolate aroma was at the forefront coupled with low licorice and burnt character. Low fruity aromas akin to red wine/ grapes, cherry, and lychee fruit surfaced alongside hints of alcohol, oak, and cinnamon. Full-bodied; medium-low carbonation. Luscious and velvety mouthfeel with low alcohol warmth. Prominent dark chocolate, dark roast coffee, and cacao nibs, and some cherries dominated the flavor profile, while hop flavor was very subtle and negligible. Off-dry finish, while both bitterness (moderately strong) and whisky (moderately low) enhanced the dark chocolate malt backbone. Others noted a low oak flavor that also ventured into the aftertaste with a lingering roastiness, baker’s chocolate, cinnamon, and a very low peppery/ spicy bite.
Blended Imperial Stout is a rich and complex sipper that features a prominent dark and roasty malt backbone with accentuating wood and whisky qualities. This beer has the salient qualities of a well-brewed Imperial Stout such as the complex malt-forward aroma and flavor, bold bitterness, fruity esters, semi-dry finish, and the noted mouthfeel.
However, Blended Imperial Stout is a much more interesting beer to talk about when considering the blending and aging involved. Brewers would typically blend together two slightly different worts or two finished batches to mitigate or balance out a particular characteristic (e.g., bitterness) or even to conceal a low-level off-flavor in one of the batches. As whisky drinkers, we appreciate the added complexity that can be contributed from the various iterations of beers aged in different barrels. For this beer, oak was subtle, whisky was notable, but the tannin-derived astringency was absent. Moreover, the low peppery/spicy bite, which is not a typical trait of an Imperial Stout, could likely be from the rye whiskey and/or the wood. Overall, we think this is an excellent beer to be enjoyed with a slice of decadent dark chocolate cake.
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