Beer of the Week 173 - 1/1/2014: FiftyFifty Brewing Imperial Eclipse Stout (Four Roses Bourbon)
Happy New Year! In order to start my beer karma off right in 2014, I decided to crack open a beer I have long sought out but only recently have been able to find in Philadelphia when I was home for the holidays. FftyFifty Brewing Co. is located in Truckee, CA. They have become known for their Imperial Eclipse Stout which they release every winter. Each year they take their base beer, Totality Imperial Stout, and age it in a plethora of liquor barrels. In the winter of2013, they released roughly 10 varieties of Eclipse; most were aged in bourbon barrels, but are variants of the base beer or aged in other types of barrels. This version was aged in Four Roses (http://www.fourrosesbourbon.com/) bourbon barrels. As Four Roses is one of my more regular bourbon choices, I figured it would be a good place to begin my relationship with Eclipse.
Eclipse ours a completely pitch black - as expected. A foamy, khaki colored head forms about 1 finger thick. The head recedes to a collar that is the color of hot chocolate. The aroma bursts from the glass with rich bourbon, chocolate, roasted malts, vanilla, caramel, toffee, molasses, and brown sugar all mixing together quite harmoniously. Dark fruits, slight coffee notes, and some licorice come through as well. The bourbon doesn’t overtake the rest of the aromas which is quite a nice touch as the remaining aromas are divine enough in and of themselves.
The flavor is really quite outstanding. Chocolate, roasted malts, and vanilla come first. These are followed by molasses, brown sugar and bourbon adding to the rest of the flavors. The flavors are very smooth and mellow as the barrel adds a bit of dryness to the overall flavor profile. Again, the bourbon doesn’t overpower and is almost understated here - helping to meld the other rich, unctuous flavors. The mouthfeel is slightly different than what I would expect from this beer. Medium bodied and very creamy. In my opinion, I feel like this beer could be a bit thicker than it is. While not very viscous, it does roll on the tongue in a creamy, milkshake like manner.
Overall, I really enjoyed this beer. I loved the flavors and liked that the barrel didn’t overpower all of the great base flavors. The only real downside to these beers is their price tag. I have never seen them below $30/bottle until I found some at the Plymouth Meeting Whole Foods for $22/bottle. Still a bit steep, but worth it to get to try this hard to find beer. Cheers!