Welcome back to another installment of Tap Trail Reviews. We’ve taken some time off as we’ve been inundated with some awesome Fresh Hop beers. Some of my favorites were from Fremont, Fort George, Laurelwood, Skookum, and well, too many to name. This years crop was fantastic and the multitude of equally fantastic beers put out were second to none. I look forward to Fresh Hop season again next year, but it’s official, we’ve moved onto Stout season. As soon as Sierra Nevada Narwhal arrived a few weeks back I knew it was time, this years version of that beer is as good as ever.
What we’ve got today is something I and many others have been waiting on for quite some time. Oskar Blues TenFidy Imperial Stout is in my Top-5 Imperial Stouts, up there with the aforementioned Narwhal, Great Divide Yeti, North Coast Old Rasputin, and Bell’s Expedition Stout. Those 5 beers are at the top of the list for me as some of the best no nonsense, non Barrel Aged Imperial Stouts.
This beer here has been released a few times before over the years, but it wasn’t packaged until this time last year. Previously, it was only sold in Colorado and North Carolina in small amounts from their breweries there and in a few select accounts outside of that. This year marks the first time this beer has seen national distribution, and when things scale up that quickly, they can have a tendency to have some issues. Fear not, for there are none here, this is one of the best Barrel Aged Imperial Stouts I’ve had in quite some time, and reminds be of some other World Class beers in that arena.
According to Oskar Blues, this years beer was aged in a plethora of different Bourbon barrels, containing mostly Buffalo Trace, Makers Mark and Heaven Hill barrels, with a few smaller distilleries mixed in. The TenFidy inside was aged for a minimum of 8 months, some up to 12 months. Some breweries prefer to age things in one uniform barrel, but to do something to this scale, that just won’t work, at least not as easily. I think in this case it makes sense to use a few different distilleries barrels, not only do you get more cooperage to age beer in, but you get more variety and more components to explore. Each barrel is unique, and each Bourbon that aged in it is unique, therefore you have great range of flavors and intensities to experiment with. With some background covered, let’s not wait any longer and let’s crack open this Stovepipe tall can and see what they’ve come up with.
*A note on availability, some reports claim that there were 800bbls distributed in cans, and 600bbls distributed in kegs. I’ll let you do the math if you’re interested, but I can tell you that that is a LOT of beer, there should be enough to go around, but if you find it, don’t pass it up!
Appearance (3/3) — A jet-black pour tumbles into the glass with a thin mocha hued head on top. Some slightly oily lacing is left behind, but a really heavy looking beer.
Aroma (10/12) — Bourbon and brown spirits are evident as soon as this starts to pour. A real strong presence of oak and caramel on the nose with a hint of coffee and some sweet coconut. Inviting.
Flavor (17/20) — Chocolate, coffee, caramel, vanilla, espresso, Bourbon, oak, char. So much going on it is tough to get it all in one sip, each sip brings another note to the table, each one as delicious as the one before it. Complex indeed.
Mouthfeel (4/5) — Full bodied, heavy, thick, fulfilling, warming as it goes down.
Overall (9/10) — A really well done full bodied Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. TenFidy has a real sharp bitterness which I love when fresh, that has obviously faded a bit, but this has really rounded into a unique class. I put this right up there next to Parabola, KBS, Fremont KDS, and a couple others, this would fit in just fine on a shelf with those other wold class beers.