Matilda Bay Brass Monkey Stout 2023

Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout

The brewers at Matilda Bay's Yarra Valley brewpub have taken another dip into the vault containing the brewery's earliest releases. This time around, it sees head brewer Harry Sexton select one of his dad's earliest creations, Brass Monkey, although the 2023 version is a rather different beast to the stout first brewed by Phil back in 1986.

Here, the beer hasn't just been taken into double digit ABV imperial territory, it's also spent nine months in oak barrels "still dripping in cabernet and merlot" according to Harry – before being blended and released in 750ml bottles a full 37 years after the first Brass Monkey hit taps in Freo. And it hits the spot from the off.

Aromatically, there's a potent coming together of roasted malts, oak and dark fruits, acting like a dark red carpet welcome for the interplay of intense dark malts with the pillowy texture and softening vanilla brought by the oak, and the plummy, vinous mid-palate of the barrel's former inhabitants. Add in plenty in the way of espresso, a flicker of ash, and a noticeable yet rounded bitterness, and you've got a beer to huddle around as it remains cold enough to freeze the proverbials off a Brass Monkey.

Presumably, the original stout shocked a few palates back in '86; it would be fun to head back in time with its barrel-aged imperial descendant and see just how it would have gone down at the Sail & Anchor too.

James Smith

Published July 25, 2023

Matilda Bay (CUB/Asahi)
(03) 5957 3200

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