They were hardly even odds, but in May, we predicted a big winter Hawkers imperial stouts was on the horizon and the Melbourne brewery hasn’t let us down. The entire vintage of dark - and not so dark - beers has a running theme of creatures from folklore and myths, which feels fitting for a series that has a cult status of its own.
The Maple Barrel-Aged takes design was inspired by Wendigo, an evil spirit from North America that is said to possess the bodies of those who turn to cannibalism only to then wander the earth forever starving and seeking its next meal. It’s grim stuff, particularly since it turns out the legend stems from forests that are filled with maple sugar trees, so times must have been tough for people to turn to eating fellow humans. Rather than merely adding maple syrup to the beer, Hawkers used BLiS barrels, with that maple syrup itself aged in bourbon. It might not quite be cannibalism, but it’s a chain of barrel-ageing that somehow feels a little cursed, even if the end result is one of pure joy. The presence of that maple, rich malts and booze comes across like a finely-tuned dessert where cinnamon sugar has been sprinkled across chocolate fudge that is, in turn, served with a side of vanilla ice cream and a shot of espresso. So in short, much like the Wendigo, one maple-soaked imperial stout might not quite be enough.
Joining it in the foreboding release schedule is the Kraken-inspired Rum Barrel-Aged imperial stout which packs a bit more booze but where the flavours are just as integrated. Here, it’s a tale of dark bitter chocolate, molasses and plum that’s been doused in rum and spice.
Published June 28, 2023 2023-06-28 00:00:00