Why we're here...

Beer culture is coming of age. At any store, restaurant, bar, or friend's house you can now find at least a few good brews. In fact, there seem to be so many new beers, breweries and bars it's difficult to separate the good, the bad, and the mediocre.

If you're going spend $10 on one beer, what should you buy? If you're going to drive 2 hours to check out a brewery, what's worth your time? If you're going to plan a Friday night, what has a good selection and friendly atmosphere? We're here to help you answer these questions.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Barrel Noir

Barrel Noir is an Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels by the Almanac Beer Company of San Francisco. I bought this at Pangaea Brews for $11. It has an ABV of 10%. They are a contract brewery, meaning they work with another brick and mortar brewery to brew. They used to brew our of Drake's but, I think they switched.

The aroma has the bourbon upfront, with a backbone of the roasted malts. While not the same, there are whiffs reminiscent of a dark Belgium ale. The aroma isn't too strong, but you definitely get the preview of the complex flavors. The first taste has the bourbon without any burn upfront followed by roasted malts, chocolate malts and some vanilla. I even get some Belgian sugar flavors. Subsequent drinks reveal the alcohol flavor. The mouthfeel is not as sticky as you'd expect and the body is spot on for an imperial stout.

Overall, I really like this imperial stout. There's an interesting and unique blend of flavors without being too overpowering. This is a Must Have It.

Almanac prides itself on using ingredients from local farms, "Farm to Barrel" or "Farm to Bottle" are their tag lines. I appreciate that philosophy and that the brewery is proud of it. But something about their marketing irks me. Maybe it's the "Almanac Aims to Elevate the Status of Beer" part of that philosophy bothers me the most. It's a bit elitist, especially when there are plenty of long standing breweries making as good or better beers.

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