While collaborations in the craft beer world are nothing new, it is not often when breweries actually blend their separate beers together to make a new creation.
However, that is what happened earlier this year when Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery and Side Project Brewing brewed Appervation, a 14 percent ABV imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels for 14 months. As the name suggests, the stout is actually a blend of one of each brewery’s signature stouts: Jackie O’s Dark Apparition Russian imperial stout (10 percent ABV) and Side Project’s Derivation imperial stout (15 percent ABV.)
The barrel-aged imperial stout was packaged in 375ml bottles priced at $15.99 each and had a 12 bottle per person purchase limit when it was released on May 24 at both Jackie O’s Taproom & Brewery and Jackie O’s Brewpub & Public House. As would be expected with a beer carrying this pedigree and such a high purchase limit, Apperavation sold out extremely quickly, although Jackie O’s had already announced a new incarnation was already in barrels.
Visually, Appervation pours a midnight black with virtually no head whatsoever, leaving behind a very thin brown lacing that sticks around for longer than I expected. There does not seem to be much carbonation, and the aroma wafting from the glass is a combination of fudge, carmel, vanilla, strong charred oak and dark fruit.
From the first sip, the Appervation is sticky sweet on the palate, with combination of dominant flavors including charred oak, figs, vanilla, fudge brownies and dark, bitter chocolate. While the carbonation is fairly low as expected, the mouthfeel is stellar, thick and chewy without going overboard.
As it warms, the sweetness intensifies a bit, but so does the complexity of the profile, with hints of dates, caramel, maple syrup—it almost tastes like maple syrup was added to the beer—and toasted coconut fliting in and out. Interestingly, the flavor on the finish remains constant regardless of whether the beer is cold or warm, namely a wonderful and distinct roasted espresso bean note that really does quite a bit to cut the sweetness that otherwise would be almost overwhelming. In addition, the alcohol is much more prominent as the stout warms, although it is very well integrated into the profile overall.