Jeremy and Natalie Roberts officially opened the doors of 903 Brewers in June 2013 and introduced the brewery’s first beers, namely The Chosen One Coconut Ale and Roo’s Red Ale. In the years since, the Sherman, Texas-based brewery has released a number of different creations, but none of them have been as popular as a stout named after a hairy, ape-like animal who walks on two legs and supposedly lives in the wilderness in the pacific northwest.

That beer is named Sasquatch, a 10.5 percent ABV imperial chocolate milk stout brewed with milk sugar, chocolate malt and “a heavy dose” of cocoa nibs. While the base beer debuted in 2014, there have been a number of variants released since then, including Balcones Barrel-Aged Sasquatch, Birthday Sasquatch and Winter Sasquatch.

Perhaps one of the most popular recent variants is Barrel-Aged Sasquatch with Vanilla & Cacao Nibs, which as its name indicates, is an 11.5 percent ABV imperial milk stout brewed with both cacao nibs and vanilla that has been aged in Jack Daniels whiskey barrels. The stout was a brewery-only release that was sold on Dec. 2, 2017 packaged in 22-ounce bottles. There were only 370 bottles available and had a purchase limit of three bottles per person.

Pouring from the bottle, the Barrel-Aged Sasquatch with Vanilla & Cacao Nibs is virtually pitch black allowing absolutely no light to get through whatsoever. There is only a half finger of head, and that does not stick around very long, dissipating quickly into a thin ring that is easily disrupted when drinking. Having said that, there seems to be plenty of carbonation visible and the aroma from the glass is a combination of strong oak, bourbon, molasses, faint vanilla and coffee.

From the first sip, the profile is dominated by a combination of oak and strong bourbon notes, along with a district bitter cocoa flavor that is huge on the finish. I taste some slight vanilla sweetness around the edges of the profile, but it is just not strong enough at this point to even come close to overpowering any other flavor. There is a bit less carbonation than I would like—albeit within normal limits—and the bourbon note is very obvious on the finish as well.

As the beer warms up, the alcohol becomes noticeably more aggressive while the vanilla sweetness rises a bit to become a major player in the profile, albeit not strong enough to overtake the oak or bitter cocoa notes that are still dominant. The mouthfeel is a bit thin as well, but not thin enough to detract from the enjoyment of the beer, and I am able to finish it by myself with no issues.

903 Brewers Barrel-Aged Sasquatch with Vanilla & Cacao Nibs
BREWERY: 903 Brewers
LOCATION: Sherman, Texas
STYLE: Barrel-Aged Imperial Milk Stout
ABV: 10.5 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: n/a
RELEASE DATE: Dec. 2, 2017
AVAILABLE IN: 22-ounce Bottles
To say I was surprised by the 903 Brewers Barrel-Aged Sasquatch with Vanilla & Cacao Nibs is an understatement: while I was expecting a decent but not overly complex barrel-aged stout with some good flavors, what I got was a memorable, extremely well-balanced beer with distinct notes and a great mouthfeel. Although the alcohol is a bit aggressive as the stout warms up, each of the main flavors in the stout—bourbon, oak, vanilla and chocolate—are represented nicely and meld together quite well. There is no doubt that the state of Texas is far behind a majority of states in the country when it comes to the quality of releases that our breweries put out, but if the Barrel-Aged Sasquatch with Vanilla & Cacao Nibs is any indication, we are well on our way to catching up.
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