Founded in 2010 by Ben Cook, who was had been employed in the quality assurance organization at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Van Nuys, Calif., Hangar 24 Craft Brewery has taken the craft beer scene by storm, mostly due to its large number of high quality barrel-aged beers. The brewery is located in an old Norton Air Force base building which was relocated across the street from the Redlands Municipal Airport.

Hangar 24 Pugachev's Cobra (2014) bottle

One of the most popular beers from the Hangar 24 is Pugachev’s Cobra, a 18.9 percent ABV Russian imperial stout is brewed with three different malts along with maple syrup. The finished beer is then aged in freshly emptied bourbon barrels for eight months before being bottled. The beer was first released in December 2011 in a grand total of 3,495 bottles, and the latest batch released in December 2014 had 11,220 bottles.1

The Hangar 24 website has more info:

Get ready for an assault on your senses with Pugachev’s Cobra, an intense Russian Imperial Stout. This rich, black beauty with a thick caramel head is bursting with aromas of chocolate, vanilla, oak, bourbon, licorice and dark fruits, while flavors of chocolate-covered plum, sweet malt, bourbon, and roasted coffee explode on your palate.

There are currently eight different releases in the Barrel Roll series:

  • Barrel Roll No. 1 – Immelmann (11.4 percent ABV) — bourbon barrel-aged imperial porter
  • Barrel Roll No. 2 – Humpty Bump (9.5 percent ABV) — Belgian-style strong ale aged in bourbon barrels with brettanomyces
  • Barrel Roll No. 3 – Pugachev’s Cobra (18.9 percent ABV) — Russian imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with maple syrup
  • Barrel Roll No. 4 – Hammerhead (11.2 percent ABV) — American-style barleywine aged in rye and bourbon barrels
  • Barrel Roll No. 5 – Chandelle (7.7 percent ABV) — blonde ale aged in white wine barrels with apricots
  • Barrel Roll No. 6 – Slow Roll (11.9 percent ABV) — Belgian-style golden ale aged in bourbon barrels
  • Barrel Roll No. 7 – Tailslide (10.5 percent ABV) — dopplesticke aged in bourbon barrels
  • Barrel Roll No. 8 – Falling Leaf (10.2 percent ABV) — imperial pumpkin porter aged in bourbon barrels

In addition, Hangar 24 has released three variants that use the Pugachev’s Cobra base blend: Pugachev Royale (16.3 percent ABV), brewed with cacao nibs and vanilla beans and aged an extra 10 months in brandy barrels; Pugachev’s Cobra 25 (14.8 percent ABV), aged for 14 months in freshly emptied 25-year-old bourbon barrels and Pugachev Mocha (14.8 percent ABV), aged for 14 months which was also aged in 25-year-old bourbon barrels with cacao nibs, lactose sugar and coffee beans.

After having to use a waiter’s corkscrew to get the cork out, the Hangar 24 Pugachev’s Cobra pours a jet black with a half finger’s worth of mocha colored head that dissipates fairly quickly, leaving a moderate lacing behind for the duration of the drink. Aroma from the glass is a combination of strong maple sweetness, dark cocoa, espresso beans, vanilla, creamy oak and bourbon.

Hangar 24 Pugachev's Cobra (2014)

Up front, the flavors of the Hangar 24 Pugachev’s Cobra are a combination of bourbon soaked oak, sweet maple, dark chocolate, bitter coffee beans, vanilla and a touch of pepper. The maple sweetness is noticeable on the palate, but is strongest on the finish, where it lingers for an inordinate amount of time after each sip. Carbonation is fairly light, but what I would consider close to perfect for this style of beer. In addition, the mouthfeel is nice and creamy, adding quite a bit of enjoyment to the overall experience.

As the beer warms, both the maple sweetness and bourbon notes become stronger, both on the aroma and the palate. The carbonation does continue to dissipate, but not at an alarming rate, and I am able to finish the beer before it goes totally flat.

Hangar 24 Pugachev's Cobra (2014)
BREWERY: Hangar 24 Craft Brewery
LOCATION: Redlands, Calif.
STYLE: Russian imperial stout
ABV: 18.9 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: $24.99
RELEASE DATE: December 2014
AVAILABLE IN: 750ml bottles
While this is not the first Hangar 24 beer I have tried, is by the best so far. The maple sweetness is very nicely balanced in the profile, and is actually most prevalent on the finish, where it lingers after every sip. The is quite a bit of barrel present as well, but it is a big stout, and the note is not overpowering at any point. The mouthfeel is excellent, thick and creamy, and the carbonation is appropriate. Overall, an excellent example of an extremely well blended, well-balanced beer that I wish I could buy whenever I wanted.
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