A September, 2014, blog post on its website brought the news that Tulsa, Okla.-based Prairie Artisan Ales would release a second batch of Pirate Bomb! The beer, a rendition of their immensely popular Bomb! aged on rum casks, was originally unveiled in October 2013 in the form of 12-ounce wax-dipped bottles.

Prairie Pirate Bomb Bottle

For this release, the wax is gone, as it is for all of Prairie’s beers going forward after concerns over time, cost and past infection issues, though the size of the bottles has stayed the same. The only other notable item with regards to packaging is that the as-delivered ABV is 14 percent, according to the label, which differs from the 13 percent quoted in the aforementioned announcement.

As for the beer itself, not having had the previous release, we’ll have to forgo a batch-to-batch comparison, though a virtual side-by-side with the baseline Bomb! will surely be in order. Regardless, most fans of the brewery know by now that the base beer is an imperial stout infused with coffee, cacao nibs, vanilla beans and chili peppers. Pirate Bomb!, so named because somebody, somewhere decided that rum was the swashbuckler’s swill of choice, sends Bomb! off on a voyage of discovery in rum casks meant to impart more “vanilla and coconut flavors” while adding “body and smoothness” to the beer.

Prairie Pirate Bomb

Out of the bottle, Pirate Bomb! emerges—appropriately—as a sea of blackness, settling beneath a well-formed layer of mocha-colored foam. The forward aroma favors coffee at first, though this gives way rather quickly to the intensely earthy character of the cacao nibs. Careful examination might uncover the slightest bit of rum, but it’s ever so fleeting that you can’t help but wonder if your mind isn’t just trying to convince you that it’s there.

In terms of taste, chocolate is clearly the dominant flavor characteristic. Other elements stay mostly subtle, with vanilla providing a slight sweetness throughout and the chili peppers adding some mild heat in the finish. It’s there that the coffee reappears as well, as hints of chocolate and roast linger well into the aftertaste. Body leans towards full, but the slick feel of the beer and its soft carbonation make it a surprisingly—and yes, dangerously—easy drinker.

Prairie Pirate Bomb!
BREWERY: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Chico, Calif.
STYLE: Quadrupel
ABV: 10.2 percent
IBU: 21
PRICE: n/a
RELEASE DATE: January 2014
AVAILABLE IN: 375ml bottles
BEERS POURED: Two
Dark fruits lead, but don't dominate this beer thanks to the strength of the underlying malt character and accompanying spices. Indeed, many quads favor the malt with the fruit playing more of a supportive role, but the roles in this beer are somewhat reversed. Some might find the fruitiness to be a bit much, but the brewer's intention by adding plums was surely to enhance the ester profile provided by the Belgian yeast strain. The result, in essence, is that the malt and fruit come together to more or less share the stage and give this beer what I would call a balanced intensity of flavors. Given these factors and the depth of the final product, this would seem to be a beer that is both well-executed and well worth seeking out if you have the opportunity.
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