When it comes to beer styles, few garnish the hype and excitement as the barrel-aged stout. Other than lambic and gueuze it is probably my favorite beer style and according to my Untappd check-ins it is one of the most common styles I drink. Generally, I love most versions of the stout style from the big high ABV monsters like The Bruery’s Black Tuesday to the crushable Modern Times Black House cans.1 The rich coffee, chocolate and roasty flavors always hit the spot for me.
A brewery that has always impressed me with their rich decadent stouts is Hoppin’ Frog out of Akron Ohio. Even though they do not distribute to California I have been able to try many of the barrel aged releases they have had in recent years. B.O.R.I.S the Crusher—B.O.R.I.S stands for Bodacious oatmeal Russian imperial stout—is its standard Russian imperial stout and D.O.R.I.S.—D.O.R.I.S stands for Double oatmeal Russian imperial stout—is the double Russian imperial stout.
Over the years there have been different versions released of both beers and today I have a special release of Rocky Mountain D.O.R.I.S which is a 10.5 percent oatmeal stout aged in “very special whiskey barrels” from Colorado. My first thought is that the barrels used are from Stranahan Distillery which would explain the vague verbiage used in describing the barrels used. This is due to a policy release from the Denver-based whiskey producer back in 2011 stating that they no longer would allow any breweries outside of Colorado to use the Stranahan name. I was unable to find anything to verify this but the pieces would add up. Regardless of where the barrels came from, I am excited to give this one a try.
The second I pop the cap I immediately can smell the big bouquet rising from the bottle. As I fill my glass the beer pours a shade of brown that borders on black with a chocolate-colored head that sticks around for a minute or so before dissipating to a thin ring. One quick whiff of the beer and I realize I am in for a treat. Huge barrel character fills the air with oak and whiskey while notes of dark chocolate and molasses help round out the aroma. The hop profile is long gone and just the rich traditional stout characteristics remain.
My first sip of the beer brings exactly what I was expecting based on the big aroma. The whiskey is the first thing that stands out along with bitter baker’s chocolate and dark roasted malts. I also get a hint of butterscotch and molasses as well which all combine for a big robust flavor profile. The finish brings even more of the oak but in the form of drying tannins which combine with a noticeable bitterness. Notes of coffee, more chocolate and alcohol all linger for a while after each sip. The mouthfeel is wonderfully silky thanks in part to the oats n the grain bill.