Every year since 2007, FiftyFifty Brewing Co. in Truckee, Calif. has released what has become its most famous beer, known as Eclipse.1 The base beer is a 10 percent ABV  imperial stout named Totality that is brewed between March and April in 300 gallon batches once a year. In May, the beer is then placed into a variety of different barrels for a minimum of 180 days, with each variant leading to a different—sometimes vastly different—final product.

For 2014, FiftyFifty released 13 different incarnations of Eclipse, each differentiated by a different wax color:

  • Purple — Elijah Craig 12-year
  • Navy Blue — Evan Williams 23-year
  • Brown — High West Single Malt
  • Tangerine — High West Bourbon
  • Lime Green — High West Rye
  • Forest Green — Rittenhouse Rye
  • Yellow — Buffalo Trace
  • Olive Green — Spanish Rum 30-year
  • Lavender Pearl — Java Coffee
  • Red — Four Roses
  • Lavender/White — Vanilla-Java
  • Blue Pearl — Woodford Reserve
  • Pinkish/Red — Masterpiece Eclipse2

FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout — Spanish 30-Year Rum (2014) bottle

One of the variants for 2014 was aged in 30-year old Spanish rum barrels. At $26, it was the most expensive variant other than Masterpiece Eclipse. It, along with the High West Single Malt and Vanilla-Java variants, was only available via FiftyFifty’s future program and later, Brewer’s Intent, the company’s reserve program.3

The Eclipse Spanish 30-Year Rum pours an exceedingly dark brown with two fingers of thick, tan-colored head that keeps its form for quite a while before dissipating into a thick lacing. Aroma from the glass is strong sweet rum, dark fruit, creamy oak, pepper, roasted coffee, vanilla and marshmallows.

FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout — Spanish 30-Year Rum (2014)

Right off the bat, the profile of the Spanish 30-Year Rum is dominated by a combination of sweet caramel, roasted coffee beans and creamy oak flavors, with lessor notes of grain, earth, vanilla and coconut. The rum is is very apparent, but it is well integrated with the rest of the profile and is relegated mostly to the finish. As with most of the Eclipse variants I have tasted, the carbonation is on the low side of normal, but it works very well with the overall profile. The mouthfeel is on the medium side, but does seem to get a bit thinner as the beer warms up.

FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout — Spanish 30-Year Rum (2014)
BREWERY: FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Truckee, Calif.
STYLE: Imperial Stout
ABV: 11.9 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: $25
RELEASE DATE: December 2014
AVAILABLE IN: 22-ounce bottles
BEERS POURED: One
With so many choices, there is a tendency for some of the Eclipse variants to taste quite similar, regardless of which barrel they were aged in. That was not the case with the Spanish 30-Year Rum, which I found to be noticeably sweeter and a bit less boozy than most of the 2014 versions I have enjoyed. While the sweetness from the rum barrels is quite overt in the overall profile, it is also very nicely balanced by the roastiness of the base beer. One of the better Eclipse variants out of the 10 I have tasted from 2014 and one that I would not hesitate to drink again.
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