Over the past week or so, we've been interviewing some of the country's leading brewers about barrel aging. We were told that one of the effects is to allow oxygen to slowly come into contact with the beer, which - in the case of beers such as stouts - can have the effect of softening the roast characters and lending the beer more caramel notes. Whether it was coincidence or not, the latest release of Moo Brew's Vintage Imperial Stout then landed in our hands and may as well have announced: "Here's what they were on about" as soon as the top was popped. The 2012 vintage is a blend of last year's stout, some of which spent time in French oak, some in American, and is far richer and creamier than any previous version we can recall. Sure, there's dark chocolate and a roasty bitterness that builds gently and lingers, but there's heaps of caramel and vanilla too in this beautiful looking beer. In fact, there was something else that we couldn't put our finger on straight away and had to keep the mind focused on working its way through the rolodex in our noggin until it found it in some dusty, long-untapped recess. Dare we say it? Amid the oak and the roast: Bailey's ice cream!
- Barrel-aged Imperial Stout