Welcome back for another installment of Tap Trail Reviews. It was a wonderfully bright and warm day out today but we are still in the heart of winter, the prime season for dark roasty stouts. Today’s choice was quite easy as I am a sucker for a good stout in a can, crediting that affinity solely to the creation that is Oskar Blues TenFidy Imperial Stout.
This can hails from Almanac Beer Company, which you’ll notice doesn’t call them self a brewery, or a brewing company, but a beer company. They have never had a space of their own and all of their beers have been contractually brewed at someone else’s brewery. The vast majority of Almanac’s beers have been brewed at Hermitage Brewing in San Jose, CA, I haven’t tasted any of their beers, but the Almanac offerings coming out of the facility have all been consistently well made.
Barbary Coast came out previously in the 22 oz format, which is thankfully dying off in favor of smaller format bottles and cans. This variant which is Coffee Barbary Coast is brewed with Coffee, Cacao Nibs, Vanilla Beans, Chili Peppers, Sea Salt and Oak. The coffee hails from San Franciso’s Sightglass Coffee, and the cocoa nibs from the also local Dandelion Chocolates, the remaining adjunct ingredients origins are not stated, but their flavors may not be as predominant. A lot of these adjunct ingredients share some similarities with Praire BOMB! and a couple others, let’s have a taste.
Beer — Coffee Barbary Coast (Imperial Stout w/ Coffee, Cacao Nibs, Vanilla Beans, Chili Peppers, Sea Salt and Oak)
Brewery — Almanac Beer Company (San Francisco, CA)
ABV — 10%
Price / Availability — $6.49 (16 oz) / Limited (Seasonal)
Appearance (3/3) — A deep dark brown hue pours out of the can into the small tasting glass. There is some clarity around the edges and it appears to be somewhat light. This is not the heavy viscous motor oil that some Imperial Stouts can be. A thin layer of bubbles form around the edges with a mocha color and leave behind some slight bits of lacing with each sip.
Aroma (8/12) — Coffee, cocoa powder, chocolate syrup, caramel, vanilla. Quite sweet, missing some of the roasted bitterness that is often found in beers of this style. There is maybe a hint of salinity in the way of salted caramel aromas, no hint of the chili pepper, but that isn’t a detriment.
Flavor (14/20) — Sweet notes of chocolate, syrup, fudge. Some caramel, vanilla and a hint of oak, quite grainy as well. Flavors of sweet chocolate and cake take the forefront. On the finish there is a subtle hint of heat, not from the ABV, but from the chili pepper addition. A slight spiciness on the tip of the tongue is balanced with an overall sweet mocha character.
Mouthfeel (3/5) — Medium-full bodied, not as heavy as one might expect. There is a nice carbonation level that helps tie everything together. That said, it does come across a touch thin and light.
Overall (6/10) — A nice attempt, but this one doesn’t quite tick all the boxes for me as it comes across a bit too light and the claimed flavors don’t all come together in harmony. I prefer a heavier, more full bodied Imperial Stout, and expected a bit more from this one. Still a nice sweet stout with some interesting subtle spice and salted caramel notes.
OVERALL — 34 / 50 — VERY GOOD