Today’s beer, Lickinghole’s Creek Illuminatos, was limited to 2,000 bottles released and is an 11.3 percent Russian imperial stout aged in rum barrels and finished on fresh vanilla.
The history of Russian imperial stouts and this particular beer was briefly summarized on the bottle:
This style was first brewed in the 18th century in London for export to the court of Catherine the Great, an Enlightened Despot. Enlightened Despots were absolute monarchs influenced by the Enlightenment. Illuminatos (Latin for Enlightened) is made with ten different specialty grains, generously hopped, aged in premium rum barrels for as long as it takes and cold-conditioned on fresh vanilla. The all seeing eye is nearly upon us.
I proceed, with excitement, to pour this big beer from the 750ml bottle and am astonished by the amazing pitch black color with a finger and a half of tan head and very noticeable exploding carbonation bubbles breaking through to the top. If held to the light, you can barely see a touch of very deep brown along the extreme edges of the glass.
Aromas abound with mild rum, sweet chocolate, malt, grain and molasses. Taste is in your face with lots of semi-sweet chocolate and vanilla, supported well with a mellow rum chaser. Also getting hints of wood, charred coffee, cocoa powder, licorice and bitter hops. Alcohol is well hidden and remains in the background throughout the entire drinking process, even as the beer warms up.
Balance is very nice and all of the elements play together very nicely. Carbonation is suitable for the style and the mouthfeel is slick, coating and dry. Finish remains well balanced and is still very dry with bits of bitter coffee in the middle. Hop bitterness is still very present and almost seems to be a touch too much for the beer, but does not greatly detract.