BREWERY: Westbrook Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
STYLE: Imperial Stout
ABV: 10 percent
IBU: Not Disclosed
RELEASE DATE: Dec. 3, 2019
AVAILABLE IN: 22-ounce Bottles
BEERS POURED: 1
It is always interesting to me to see what creations breweries introduce for their inevitable anniversary releases every year. Will they go classic, with basic ingredients? Barrel-aged and sour? Or just a pastry stout stuffed with adjuncts?
For its ninth anniversary back in December 2019, Westbrook Brewing Co. decided on the latter choice. Of course, this was no surprise to fans. After all, the Mt. Pleasant, S.C.-based brewery was one of the early proponents of the pastry stout with its famous Mexican Cake imperial stout, but Westbrook decided on a bold choice for this specific release.
Named 9th Anniversary Peanut Butter & Chocolate Stout, the beer was inspired by the flavors found in “that classic confection – the peanut butter cup.” Coming in at 10 percent ABV, the imperial stout is brewed with Chinook and East Kent Goldings hops, along with vanilla, cocoa nibs to simulate chocolate and peanut butter powder
The finished beer was then packaged in 22-ounce bottles and released at the brewery on Dec. 3, priced at $10 each. Soon after the brewery release, bottles were also shipped across the brewery’s entire distribution network.
In addition, while Westbrook has historically released at least one barrel-aged variant of its base anniversary creations that are typically a brewery-exclusive, the Barrel-Aged 9th Anniversary Peanut Butter & Chocolate Stout has yet to be announced . Those barrel-aged variants are typically released many months after the base beers: as an example, the last anniversary release—8th Anniversary Pecan Cookie Stout— was first sold on Nov. 28, 2018, while the barrel-aged version aged in maple bourbon barrels was not seen until more than a year later on Dec. 20, 2019.
Like the vast majority of Westbrook stouts I have enjoyed, the 9th Anniversary Peanut Butter & Chocolate Stout pours a deep, black color; in addition, this specific beer also features a half finger of chocolate brown head that dissipates quickly, leaving behind a thin ring around the edge of the glass as well as a couple of lonely islands floating in the middle. The aroma from the lip of the glass is a combination of strong roasted peanut shells, salted crackers, malt, milk chocolate, peanut butter, coffee beans and slight vanilla sweetness.
From the first sip, my palate is dominated by a combination of bitter dark chocolate and coffee beans, while the finish is full to the brim of nothing but creamy roasted peanuts along with a bit of mineral saltiness. There is some molasses sweetness present on both the palate and finish, but it is not overly strong and does not seem to want to be any more aggressive than it already is. The amount of carbonation is appropriate for the beer style, and while I find the mouthfeel a bit thinner than I expected, it is far from being so thin as to cause any issues.
As it warms, the profile of the 9th Anniversary does become slightly sweeter—with the same molasses note from before, albeit a bit more aggressive—as well as creamier overall, but the dominant flavors do not change much at all, meaning the palate is inundated with bitter dark chocolate while the finish continues to give me nothing but roasted peanuts. Having said that, there are some new secondary flavors added to the overall profile, including raisins, figs and slight toast, all of which are relegated to fleeting glimpses on the finish at various points.