When I think of Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, two beers immediately come to mind: Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout, of which I have yet to try; and Jai-Alai IPA, which is one of my go-to IPAs that I try to always keep in the refrigerator.
Today I will be introduced to a selection from the Brewery’s membership club, El Catador. The club was established in 2013 to showcase barrel-aged beers in limited available quantities. The cost to become a member is $250 and includes the following perks:
- Seven exclusive 750 ml bottles of unique, barrel-aged beer, each bottle being hand numbered;
- A welcome gift to each member;
- 20 percent discount at the tasting rooms;
- An invite to a member-only event determined by your pick-up location;
- Access to members-only pre-sale for Hunahpu’s Day tickets;
- Exclusive El Catador merchandise to purchase;
- Early access to some Tasting Room only beers and a monthly newsletter.
Today’s beer is Not A Single Feeling, a 13.9 percent imperial stout aged in sherry barrels and in collaboration with Cycle Brewing out of Petersburg, Fla. What excites me about this stout is that it has no adjuncts added, which hopefully will showcase a lot of the barrel and some of the down to earth malts and hops without the addition of other ingredients.
Poured from a 750ml bottle, I cannot call the color anything other than black, pure black. A medium to heavy pour down the middle of the glass produces only about three-quarters of a finger of bronze head and very minimal cobweb lacing which dissipates rapidly, leaving only a glass of deep colored liquid.
First off, aromas engulf the nose with wine and wood with a cool sweetness that is both pleasurable and subtle. The first sip releases a lot; sherry, wood tannins, roasted malts and background hints of slightly bitter chocolate and oak. The high ABV hides itself fairly well although the warming mouth feel lets me know that it is definitely there.
Fast forward about 20-25 minutes and lets see what has happened to the feel and taste as the beer warms. Next sip produces quite a bit more of the sherry taste, yet not enough to skew the great balance that is emitting from this special stout. I get a little more bitter chocolate, more roast on the malts and maybe even a light wisp of deep coffee. The balance continues to amaze me as it stays together quite well without letting any domination of the flavors. The mouth feel is slightly coating with the barrel and roasted sweetness bringing quite a pleasurable experience. Finish is lightly searing from the warming alcohol, yet the hops and malts keep it together exceptionally well.