For years I have wrote about the emerging beer scene in Los Angeles and Orange County. With heavy hitters like Monkish, Bottle Logic and The Bruery it safe to say that L.A. has moved past the stage of “emerging” and have become a full-blown beer destination. In addition to the nationally recognized breweries local favorites such as Noble Ale Works, Smog City and Beachwood are cranking out world class brews on a regular basis and are poised to make their mark on the national beer nerd scene.

One of my favorite local spots is the aforementioned Smog City Brewing Co. and during a brewery hoping trip a few months back I was able to score a few bottles of its barrel-aged stout, Infinite Wishes. Over the past few months I have slowly depleted my stash of these wax dipped 500ml bottles and tonight I am cracking my final bottle.1

Infinite Wishes pours the absolute darkest brown you can imagine that is just a tick away from black with chocolate milk colored head that dissipates to a halo around the glass within a few moments of pouring. The carbonation is spot on for the style, enough to give the beer some life but not enough to take away from the silky-smooth mouthfeel.

The nose on the beer is rich chocolate, bourbon and a ton of oak. The barrel is really the star of the show in this bouquet. Aside from the bourbon, flavors of wood, vanilla and chocolate hints of coffee, burnt caramel and roasted dark malts also round out a great smelling beer.

With the outstanding aroma coming from my glass I have high expectations as I take my first sip. Following the nose the beer is filled with big rich chocolate, bourbon and vanilla but the surprising part is how much the roasted malts shine through. I often shy away from the stouts with a heavy roasted dark malt presence because they can tend to be a bit astringent and over powering but the charred characteristic in this beer is very well executed and balances out the sweet fudge component quite well. I get the big bold flavors you would expect in a beer that is close to 13 percent ABV but nothing is overpowering it does not come off as boozy at all.

Smog City Infinite Wishes
BREWERY: Smog City Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Torrance, Calif.
STYLE: Imperial Stout
ABV: 12.8 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: n/a
AVAILABLE IN: 500ml bottles
Overall, I am once again impressed by a barrel-aged offering from Smog City. Side-bar: if you have the opportunity to pick up its barrel-aged English barleywine do yourself a favor and grab as many as you can. Balance is not often a word I use when reviewing an imperial stout but that is a very appropriate descriptor with Infinite Wishes. It is a never-ending dance between the brownie batter and the bitter roasted malts that ends up delivering an outstanding beverage. Hats off to the team at Smog City and I can't wait until my next trip to Torrance.
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