You'll often read or hear about the importance of dealing in subtleties when playing with flavours – particularly big flavours – in beer. And when it comes to big in beer imperial stouts are up there, as is the potential impact that can be gained by ageing one in a barrel previously used for bourbon. But, had brewers stuck to the rules, we wouldn't be where we are now: in the midst of beer's most kaleidoscopic era to date. Which brings us to this Brewer's Series release from the Clifton Hill Brewpub.
If you're new to the series, this is how the first beer in it fared in one of our blind tastings and here's a bit more on the brewers themselves. And, if you're new to this beer, which you almost certainly are, it's one in which subtlety be damned: it's a bourbon barrel aged Russian imperial stout and you're going to know it's bourbon barrel aged long before the glass gets anywhere near your face.
The sweet, boozy, oak 'n' vanilla characters drawn from the Four Roses barrel are front and centre throughout, so much so you might fear your palate is in for a fierce burn. Yet they make it a bourbon soaked experience without the heat, contributing flavour and aroma to a beer with a full, velvety body and plenty of rich, dark chocolate and coffee to boot – a combination that saw it collect a gold medal at the 2018 Australian International Beer Awards.