Swell launch into the cold, dark winter of 2022 with two big, dark beers: this year's version of Double Black Diamond Imperial Stout and the bourbon barrel-aged version aptly named Getting Barrelled. The two beers are essentially different versions of the same beer: an imperial stout base served straight and after time in barrels – Swell’s first foray into oak.
Double Diamond Black 2022 is just as dark, just as boozy, and just as delicious as last year. Hazelnut, espresso coffee, dark fruits and a little roast rise from the dark brown head, making way for a little upfront sweetness before a decadent display of rich malts unfolds, leaving behind more roast to balance the sweetness, plus a decent whack of strong coffee, dark chocolate and a sprinkling of currants. There's some earthy bitterness late on, all encased in a thick, silky, oily liquid.
Getting Barrelled takes matters to another level of richness, however, after the beer was aged for 10 months in ex-Heaven Hill bourbon barrels. The spirit character is woven in nicely, adding some vanilla, a little oak and bourbon warmth. The roasted malts have been eliminated, with the beer leaning towards a harmony of flavours. The bourbon isn't overpowering yet neither is it underwhelming by any stretch.
Both beers come in at 10.1 percent ABV, so are perhaps best shared with friends lest you run the risk of getting barrelled yourself.
- Imperial Stouts