Thursday, October 29, 2009

99 Bottles of Beer on the Blog - Odell's Bourbon Barrel Stout

Imagine my delight when a recent morning at work was interrupted by a phone call from one of my favorite people asking me whether I wanted her to pick up any special beers from Odell's Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado. She was standing in the brewery gift shop, and mentioned a limited edition Bourbon Barrel Stout. Sold!

Tonight, I uncorked the 750 milliliter bottle, after letting it warm up to around 45-50 degrees. A good rich beer should not be served tongue-numbingly cold; the warmth allows the complexities of the beer shine.

The aroma is all coffee and chocolate, and the color is dark brown just this side of black. No hop aroma can cut its way through the rich, malty smell. A note of vanilla gives just a hint of the complexity to be found just underneath the dark tan head. At 10.5% alcohol, it's not surprising that the head does not last long, though a film remains, and a lace of foam decorates the side of the glass as the beer disappears.

The mouthfeel is perfect. A beer this tasty is sometimes syrupy, but this one is enjoyably, perhaps dangerously, drinkable.

Appearance, aroma and mouthfeel are good, but the flavor is what makes this beer memorable. I'm not a huge fan of bourbon, because I don't enjoy the burn of high-alcohol liquors. This beer delivers the wonderful flavors of bourbon without the burn. Aged for 4 months in barrels from Buffalo Trace Distillery, this imperial stout yields agreeably to the vanilla, caramel and slight smokiness of bourbon in a cooling mouthful of chocolate and coffee maltiness. You get the pleasure of bourbon without the pain.

Don't let the word "stout" bring expectations of lots of dry roasted barley. Without the bourbon, this would be a big, creamy milk stout, leaning toward an imperial porter. I wonder whether I would find it too sweet without the added spiciness of the bourbon, but it is delightful as served.

This beer was around $16 for a bottle the same size as a bottle of wine. Frankly, it's worth every nickle. It has much more going on flavor-wise than even a very good bottle of wine, and the creativity and skill demonstrated by the brewers outshine the work put in by 99% of winemakers.

I don't know what I would pair this beer with. It's a little sweet to go with a steak, but it might be the perfect accompaniment to a dark chocolate mousse and a cigar. It certainly goes well with the handful of pretzels I'm tasting it with.

This is definitely one of the best beers I have ever had. The fact that a friend took time out of her journey to visit her friend to pick it up for me certainly makes me appreciate it more, but, if I see this on the shelves of any local stores, I'll be picking up a few bottles to cellar for special occasions.

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Anonymous HomeBrewHawk said...

Nice score. I hope it makes it to KC.

11/10/2009 3:36 PM  

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