In early 2013, Tulsa, Okla.-based Prairie Artisan Ales released a new beer named Bomb!1, an imperial stout blended with espresso beans, chocolate, vanilla beans and ancho chili peppers. While it was not the first beer to gain recognition outside of Oklahoma, Bomb! is considered by many to be the release that put Prairie Artisan Ales on the map and increased the demand for its beers nationally.
Bomb! uses a coffee named Espresso Divino from Nordaggios Coffee, also in Tulsa. Over 100 pounds was used in all four batches of the 2013 batches of Bomb!
“The Espresso Divino already has chocolatey notes, which blends well with the raw chocolate nibs and the imperial stout brewing method,” said Nordaggios Coffee owner Tor Nordstrom.
In November 2013, Prairie released Pirate Bomb!, which was Bomb! aged in rum barrels. The beer was sold in 12-ounce bottles and came in at 13 percent ABV. Originally considered a one-time release, last week Prairie announced that it would be released again this month. Also announced at the same time was a new Bomb! variant aged in whisky barrels named Barrel Aged Bomb!, which will be a Texas-only release.
As of this review, there have been six different releases of the Prairie Artisan Ales Bomb!, with each release other than the last designated by different color wax on the cap.
- Gold Wax (Batch One) — 14 percent ABV — May 2013
- Red Wax (Batch Two)2 — 13 percent ABV — July 2013
- Blue Wax (Batch Three) — 14 percent ABV — September 2013
- Pink Wax (Batch Four) — 13 percent ABV — November 2013
- Orange Wax (Batch Five) — 13 percent ABV — January 2014
- No Wax- Batch Six & Ongoing Batches — 13 percent ABV — May 2014
Because of some issues with infection with its Vanilla Noir as well as the time and expense of the process, Prairie made the decision in 2014 to stop waxing all bottles of their beer.
The Prairie Artisan Ales Bomb! pours a motor oil black with a surprising lack of tan-colored head that disappears fairly quickly, likely due to the reduced carbonation.3 Aroma to the nose is one of the most complex I have smelled in a while, with scents competing for access to my nose: bitter espresso, dark milk chocolate, malt and strong chili peppers.
The first sip of the Prairie Ales Bomb! is much the same as what I smelled before I tasted: dark chocolate, bitter espresso, creamy oak, vanilla and chili peppers. I notice a nice, yet slight heat from the chilies every so often, but it is certainly not as strong as I thought it would be. In fact, the chili pepper is quite a bit more evident on the nose than the actual mouth flavor, where it is mostly relegated to to lingering nicely on the finish. The flavors compete on my palate in a good way, and there is a great creaminess overall that really combines well with the rest of the flavors. The mouthfeel is slightly thinner than I expected, but it is not detrimental to the experience.
I think that just a touch more carbonation would actually help Bomb! As it warms, it becomes noticeably sweeter, and both the heat and flavor of the chili peppers becomes more dominant in the profile. The other flavors of espresso, vanilla, oak and chocolate are still very much present, although in varying degrees. The sweetness seems to be carmel-based, and only gets stronger as the Bomb! gets closer to room temperature. By the time I am finished with the beer, there is no carbonation at all.