Welcome back for another week of reviews, there have been some remarkable releases lately, most notably Cognac Abyss, as much as I’d love to post a review for that beer, it won’t be today. Perhaps we can revisit it at the six month mark or so when it really hits its stride, as it sits today it is a bit raw and I feel as it would be a bit unfair to judge it solely based upon its inception on day one, it will only get better with time.
Instead, I would rather shine a small light upon a smaller brewery who has been consistently releasing quality beers at competitive prices. I have not had a bad beer from pFriem, their Gose was not my favorite, but nearly everything else they have released has been excellent. They just won the best beer in Oregon for crying out loud.
Josh Pfriem got his start at our own local Chuckanut Brewery with Will & Mari and “after over a decade of award-winning experience in the Northwest Craft Brewing Community, finally achieved a life-long dream of opening an artisanal brewery in Hood River, Oregon.” Having personally met Josh and Annie early last Spring for their bottle launch event I was immediately drawn to their humble passion for quality, consistency, and authenticity.
When I saw their latest Barrel Aged release on the shelf I quickly jumped at the opportunity without thinking twice. A beautifully simple small bottle.
Brewery — pFriem Family Brewers
Beer — Bourbon Barrel Stout
ABV / IBU — 11.5% / 70
Price / Availability — $8.99 / Limited
375ml Bottled On: 12 14 15 poured into 13oz tulip at Cellar temperature (50º)
Appearance (3/3) — A dark dark brown color into the glass, with some cola and ruby red like edges to it, there is initially an incredibly tall and billowy head on top, though it does slowly settle into a thin and viscous head on top of the dark body of beer, leaving behind some spotty and sticky bits of lacing.
Aroma (8/12) — An oddly vinous character is apparent initially, jammy red wine and tannic oak dominates a foundation of chocolate and caramel, there is a jammy and tart cherry character that was completely unexpected but not completely out of place. There is almost a bit of salinity to this, a light tangy note. All of this is balanced upon a dry and bitter espresso like body, the aromas just somehow work in harmony.
Taste (15/20) — Whisky forward, almost Scotch like in the way that you perceive a touch of salinity intertwined with dry and fresh White Oak casks. Again there is a vinous and chewy red wine component, like a nice tannic bold red wine interwoven with a chocolate truffle and capped off with a boozy and sweet Port wine finish. This is rather unexpected for the style but it just somehow works in unison. The Bourbon barrel aging is very subtle, there is no overpowering sweetness or booziness. A fruity and complex imperial stout.
Mouthfeel (3/5) — Bubbly and effervescent, prickly carbonation, almost Champagne like. A bit of an anomaly for a BA Stout.
Overall (7/10) — This is a spectacular stout, although it does not conform to the norm. It brings a load of tart cherry and vinous character to the table, though I’m not sure if it intended to. I will gladly see how this develops. As it is now it is very chewy, vinous, tannic, ripe, lightly tart, and acidic on top of a worthy malt base, the salinity present in the barrels is actually quite nice.
TOTAL — 36/50 VERY GOOD