As 2016 comes to a end, here's a beer that will close out your year on a memorable note. Every once in a while, we see amazing value in a beer. I think High Westified Imperial Coffee Stout, part of Lagunitas' 2016 OneHitter Series, fits the bill. It was brewed with coffee, aged in High West Whiskey Barrels for over a year, and weighs in at 12.2% ABV and 40 IBUs. Here's Lagunitas' description:
"This beer couldn't have been done without the help from our friends at High West Distillery in Park City, UT and Chicago's-own Metropolis Coffee. We brewed a rich, malty Imperial Stout with some of Metropolis' Spice Island blend, then let it vintag-ize in High West Rye and Bourbon Barrels for up to 17 FREAKING MONTHS. It's good to have friends!"
While that sounds great, you can pick up a barrel-aged stout an any decent bottle shop—at a price of $10-$20+ for a bomber (22 oz. bottle). I bought this six-pack for $12, which equates to $3.67 for a bomber! So it's ridiculously inexpensive for a spirit-barrel aged beer, but is it any good? Here are my tasting notes:
Poured into my Speiglau wheat beer glass (my stout glass was dirty). Aroma and flavor start with sweet chocolate and espresso. In the middle, notes of whiskey emerge along with vanilla and subtle oak. It's medium bodied, has a creamy mouth feel, and finishes with lingering hop bitterness and sweet chocolate. While it's 12.2% ABV, the boozy heat was surprisingly subdued. I expected it to be fairly hot. It drinks great now, but I want to see how this beer ages. I plan to cellar (crawlspace, really) my 5 remaining bottles over the next few years and see how it evolves. I'm patient...
I stopped rating beers a long time ago, but if I rated this, it would have earned one of my rarely awarded 5-star ratings. High Westified Imperial Coffee Stout should be available through January—if it lasts that long. If you see this on the shelf, snap up a six-pack. While it's tempting to hoard, save some for your fellow beer lovers!
Wishing you an excellent 2017. Happy New Year!