By Iron Chef Leftovers
Reuben’s recently released their Bourbon Barrel Russian Imperial Stout for their first anniversary. I went it to taste it and compare notes from the first time I had it and realized that, for some reason, I never got around to posting about that beer. So you are in for a treat – you get a review of both versions of the beer in one post! Aren’t you all just lucky readers?
Batch #1 – 11% ABV, 64 IBU. Jet black with no head. Light notes of bourbon and vanilla with hints of wood on the nose. The beer starts off with slightly sweet roasted malt before it quickly transitions to wood with a strong but not overpowering bourbon finish which is coupled with a slight sweetness. As the beer warms at coats the palate, the vanilla and roasted components begin to take over, balancing out the wood and bourbon notes. The beer opens up the further into it you get. The beer is an alcohol bomb and there is definitely a slight alcohol burn associated with it (not nearly as much as I expected), but it dissipates/becomes less noticeable the further into the beer you get. This beer is definitely something you need to be in the mood for because of the heavy wood and bourbon components, and is probably something that you are not going to drink more than one of, just because it is such a big beer and is something that you are going to be sipping over quite a long time. I really liked this big, heavy, malty, boozy beer. Batch #1 dances in with 4 Cossacks out of 5.
Batch #2 – They reused the barrels from batch #1 and, from what I was told, the second use of the barrel tends to produce better results. The beer seemed more integrated than the first batch – there was less single flavor transitioning as you were drinking it. Each stage seemed to have multiple layers of flavors. The nose was more complex, yielding notes of chocolate, coffee, bourbon and vanilla. A slight sweetness once again starts you off followed by heavy malt and bourbon notes with hints of oak, vanilla, coffee and cherries. The oak and bourbon are much more supporting cast members in this version with then adding a pleasant background to the stout flavors without overpowering them. With the same alcohol as the first batch, there was no astringency, making this an incredibly smooth and well integrated wood aged beer. Batch #2 storms the Kremlin and takes over singing an amazing 5 International’s out of 5.
The good news is that Reuben’s is planning on making this beer again and bottling it sometime in the near future, so you will be able to take this home and enjoy it. I already am making room in the beer cellar for this one.