Imperial Eclipse Stout - Heaven Hill Rittenhouse Rye - FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 412 | Reviews: 152 | Display Reviews Only:
2.35/5 rDev -45.1%
Vintage 2010 bottle. Since the Four Roses bottle I got a little better at cutting through the wax. Poured at 42° into a Duvel tulip.
The Pour: Like the Four Roses, this beer is characteristically very dark with a rich brown/tan head that disappears rather quickly. Very short head as well, maybe 1/2 in. at most and little lacing.
The Aroma: Some rich dark chocolate, coffee, sweet sweet maltiness and tobacco. Unfortunately the aroma was over taken by a very pervasive hot alcoholic nose.
The Taste: After smelling it it was hard to get the alcohol our of my head. The mouthfeel was medium viscous and for the most part quite smooth. However, it was so hot with alcohol that many of the flavors were lost immediately. There was some bitterness in the unbalanced alcohol and the rye seemed to translate as 'acrid' here. It seems other people have experiences similar inconsistencies in the bottling. This one must have been near the end of the barrel.
Overall: This was quite a disappointment. I've loved 2009 vintage Elijah Craig and 2010 Four Roses. Both were phenomenal beers and I was expecting the Heaven Hill was to be no exception. I couldn't finish it which is very rare. Perhaps I got an off bottle but at $27 a pop it's even harder to afford than it is to find. It would have been nice to see how the rye whiskey could have contributed to the generally very chocolaty and coffee flavors of the base beer. I have one last bottle of this barrel's to hold off for a few years and see if it mellows and improves.
01-09-2011 06:58:37 | More by gumushie
2.88/5 rDev -32.7%
Poured into a snifter. 2011 vintage, bottle #1653. Green wax so I have the correct listing.
This is my fourth variant of this year (EC 12, EC 18, and BT blend) and fifth ever ('10 EW).
3.5 A: I've been very impressed with the appearance of these so far, but this one doesn't have the same luster. Black color. Just around one finger of creamy tan head. The retention isn't even close to as good as the other ones and much, much less lacing is left.
2.5 S: The nose on this is easily the worst so far as well. First of all, the rye doesn't bring out the aromas in the base stout (I'm looking for you, chocolate). The rye itself is quite peculiar smelling. It has a musty, old grain smell to it with a light vegetal component backing it up. Booze is kept in check.
3.0 T: The taste is marginally better than the nose. For a barrel-aged beer with such a wimpy stout as a base, the barrel aging has to be done with perfection and the barrel used has to have had a good previous tenant. I'm not sure what the issue is with this one. I've never had Rittenhouse Rye before. Anyway, chocolate and a light roast from the stout. Earthy spicy rye with the same mustiness found in the nose. Fortunately, the vegetal component is quite weak. Overall, it's still not bad tasting and through all the BB stouts I've had, it comes in right about at the middle.
2.5 M: Medium body. Good moderate carbonation. This is the least creamy of the variants I've had. Pump this thing up!
3.0 D: This is the worst variant across the board that I've had so far. Definitely not worth the price.
01-25-2012 01:35:34 | More by DavoleBomb
2.9/5 rDev -32.2%
Shared at ramnuts house by our host. Black13, TulipSnifter, Bird, Mini, and Growler were there with us on 1-15-11. Review from notes. 2009 bottling.
A: Dark brown, plum edges, moderate sized froth ring.
S: Muted brown alcohol, a touch of citrus house cleaner, rum soaked raisins, and what seems to be a touch of oxidation come through here.
T: Marshmallow, a heat similar to chile's, nutmeg, bitter cocoa.
M: A thin silkiness helps the low carbonated body move easily and the clean finish make me go back for another sip quickly.
D: Meh... Compared to some of the other big barrel aged beers we had that night, this seemed a little week.
01-19-2011 10:57:06 | More by hopsbreath
2.9/5 rDev -32.2%
Re-review after a couple of bottles of the 2010 edition. Main differences from the 2009 are highlighted. Note: the Eclipse series greatly benefits from being served at 62 F or so.
S: When cold (50-55 F), the beer is almost all charred oak, cigar (tobacco, earth, smoke). As it warms to 60+ F, licorice, chocolate, and a mild rye spice emerge. At 65 F or so they blossom to the right balance where they overpower the charred oak somewhat.
T: Parallels the nose. I didn't have this particularly cold, but it was VERY sensitive to temperature. Initially it was charred, cigary oak -- just like I remembered from the 09, but that was all I could pick up. Only when it warmed a few more degrees did other flavors emerge to balance the harsh, bitter barrel notes. The beer gave off elements of licorice, dark chocolate, and a rye spice. I miss the coconut character of last year.
M: A semi-dry finish. This feels thinner than last year's, though the flavor is ample and it coats the tongue nicely. It's just not a viscous, chewy imperial stout. I prefer the flavor of the Evan Williams bourbon, but this one is much smoother. It's a wash.
O: The two bottles of this that I had were very different from each other. One was pretty much all barrel char, and the other was actually rye whiskey (lightly peppery), licorice, chocolate, vanilla, and dark fruit with a pronounced charred bitterness. I'd give the first a C+ and the latter an B+. Averaging the scores across multiple bottles, including the 2009s.
When they bring the bottling in-house, these beers are going to be phenomenal. Right now, though... The packaging (and resulting variation) is really hurting this beer. At $25 a pop I can feel the pain.
Original review (2009 edition):
Lightly chilled bottle into a glass. Side by side with the Elijah Craig.
I LOVED this version on tap, but out of the bottle, not as much. I've heard these batches were not blended, so it may be luck of the draw as to whether your bottle is world-class or merely spectacular. This one was the latter.
A: Pours a very dark brown (not black), slightly more translucent than the Elijah Craig version. The head is fairly long-lasting; it is a half-finger of mocha colored foam that caps the brew nicely. When I swirl the beer, it's a little leggy, which belies its relatively light body (see below).
S: Coconut, vanilla, sharp tannins (compared to the soft, buttery ones found in the Elijah Craig), rye, chocolate, and some cigar.
T: Coconut, vanilla, and chocolate up front. Rye whiskey is apparent in the mid-taste; it's not as pronounced as the bourbon was in the Elijah Craig version. Much more restrained. I pick up more dark fruit than I did in the Elijah Craig bottle. But it's balanced out by the more pronounced bitterness of this beer, which has an earthy / ashy and tannic finish that reminds me of cigars.
M: Semi-dry finish. Not viscous. It's a little heftier than the Elijah Craig, but the carbonation is similarly low and the two beers are equally smooth. If you like chewy, syrupy stouts, you won't enjoy this one. It's packed with flavor but the body is attenuated enough that it doesn't weigh heavily on your stomach. And that helps the next category...
D: I can easily finish a bomber of this in one sitting. That's not something I can say often; even a 12oz can of Ten FIDY can be a challenge for me these days. This beer is packed with tremendous flavor. But I have to say, after my side by side, I preferred the Elijah Craig bottle.
12-25-2010 10:20:45 | More by Arbitrator
District of Columbia
3.15/5 rDev -26.4%
From the 2010 release party bottling. Shared with Habmike, Kkipple, SpencerDB, RobOrb and Advent. Many thanks to a kind mule.
Appearance: Looks basically like the rest of the 50/50 barrel aged lineup; small head, some lacing, dark pour with some mahogany brown edges.
Smell: This was the only 50/50 barrel aged offering I tasted in a side-by-side where the bourbon did not dominate, it really took the backseat to an unpleasant roast/char taste. In the trunk there was some vanilla, oak, caramel, and blackstrap molasses.
Taste: Again a roast/char element dominates the bourbon; for the rest of the lineup I could easily and quickly pick out exactly what bourbon had been used. Not for this one. In the background I got some vanilla, honey and blackstrap molasses notes. It seems as if the base beer itself was different for this one, but I would assume they use the same beer for each. Very hot.
Mouthfeel: This one was even thinner than the rest of them somehow.
We did a big side-by-side and I would rate them in this order: Pappy 50/50; Evan Williams 50/50; Elijah Craig 50/50; 4 Roses 50/50; Heaven Hill 50/50 (noticeably worse than the rest); Brandy 50/50 (Brandy being a drain pour). It was fun to try them side-by-side, each is incredibly distinct and there are certainly some winners and some losers.
I hate saying each of these smells like bourbon but they truly do smell like the brands of bourbon they used for the barrels. If you have not had each of the bourbons several times (enough times to pick them out of a 7 bourbon lineup) you won't have the fun wow factor of smelling and tasting each of them.
01-10-2011 04:57:08 | More by craytonic
3.25/5 rDev -24.1%
Black liquid with a small khaki head.
Pretty heavy whiskey in the nose for a stout of this vintage. Some very slight smoke and pepper, milk chocolate, vanilla and oak. Milk chocolate and vanilla seems to be the trend in series.
The whiskey is much more subdued in the flavor than the nose leads on. Milk chocolate, spice/black pepper, and some roasted grain peeks through. Pretty straight forward for a BA stout with a dry finish from the rye. Reminds me of a Bourbon County Stout but a little less bold and lacking that richness and much drier.
04-15-2011 18:34:28 | More by BearsOnAcid
3.55/5 rDev -17.1%
2010 bottle, shared with friends over the holidays. My notes...
A- Pitch black with an off white/tannish head. The head dissipates quickly, and leaves minimal lacing. The beer pours very thin.
S- Spicy oak and some whiskey notes. Peat, chocolate, molassas, and an all around boozy sweetness.
T- The rye and chocolate are pretty over powering at first, a spicy sort of booziness. Transitions to dark roasted malt with more peaty barrel. Very intense initially, and still pretty hot.
M- As it appeared, this beer was way too thin. Not bad on carbonation. The beer was just so astringent though, largely due to the rye treatment I would guess.
O- Overall this was probably my least favorite of the 2010 Eclipses. The Rye is just overboard, and is not my favorite alcohol. It was just very spicy and biting, which was not the case with all of the other Eclipses.
01-20-2012 16:05:20 | More by Gfunk720
3.56/5 rDev -16.8%
2011 vintage, bottle #954
taste- baker's chocolate, toasted malt in the finish, dark fruit, burnt toast
color- dark cola
clarity- pours clear and dark
smell- whiskey, heat, soap, green apple
body- somewhat oily on the tongue with a hop bite at the front of the mouth, mellow/smooth mouthfeel, medium-weight, woody-hoppy long finish
appearance- mocha-colored carbonation after the pour but it dissipates quickly to a faint ring around the glass, average-poor lacing
overall impression- rye and whiskey dominate the flavor profile, seems one note and out of balance
notes and comments- in some ways i think this has passed it's peak, i'm underwhelmed and for the price it should be delivering a lot better in my opinion. really didn't come together for me as an artisan barrel-aged beer. i have heard similar reviews and now i'm convinced, i would stay away from this one in the future. not a fan of rye-style beers (e.g., ruthless rye, etc.). i kept an open mind with this one but just wasn't feelin' it
beer spy- got in on the pre-order through fiftyfifty, 2011, 22oz
01-13-2013 06:50:06 | More by NorCalYeti
3.63/5 rDev -15.2%
bottle 241 -2010 release -Thanks Schwaeh.
A; Black with minimal head , slight lacing, decent carbonation.
S: Caramel, toffee, slight bourbon, chocolate.
T: Vanilla , slight toffee /caramel, chocolate, bourbon.
O: Overall this is my least favorite of the Eclipses Iv'e had ,It's by no means bad , just not on par with the rest of the series.
02-04-2012 20:04:27 | More by InebriatedJoker
District of Columbia
3.68/5 rDev -14%
From 22oz bottle to tasting glass at my 30th Beerthday Bash on 9/23/11
A: Rich brownish-black. A decent pour yields a .75 finger head that fades rather fast and little lacing.
S: Charry grains, a touch of earth and coffee. But what's really prevalent here is the boozy rye.
T: Not quite what I was hoping for. It certainly isn't bad, yet it's still too hot, and the rye on this is too over the top for me. It's one thing to use rye in your wort, and something entirely different to use a rye bourbon barrel. In this case, it's added a bit of a burnt astringency to the beer that's slightly offputting. The base here is still on-point, I'm just not digging the treatment.
M: A bit thinner then I'd like, yet it's not a failure. The carbonation could use a bit of touching up, yet I'm fully aware that's the barrel talking.
O: FiftyFifty's Rittenhouse Rye Eclipse was the bronze medal winner in our Eclipse tasting. But when you consider we only tried three of 'em, that means this one's trailing in back. (#1: Four Roses, #2: Evan Williams).
Not a bad beer by any means, and I'm really pleased to see the brewmaster change it up a bit with the rye barrel. In the future though, I'll veer away from this, dedicating my cellar space to the Four Roses treatment. But don't misunderstand: I'd never turn this down if offered, as it's still head and shoulders above many Imperial Stouts.
10-13-2011 23:03:53 | More by Rhettroactive
3.68/5 rDev -14%
Had this side-by-side with the Elijah and the JD.
This one was better than the Jack, but wasn't nearly as good as the Elijah.
Pours black with a faint tan head that fades into a slight ring (like the other two). Aroma is of roasted/burnt malts, vanilla, oak, and bourbon. Smells a lot like bourbon county stout. Flavor is similar to the nose. This is a sweet beer. Almost like a chocolate bourbon milkshake. Bittersweet chocolate chips? Very good beer, really enjoyed this one.
04-03-2011 23:45:33 | More by muttyd
3.7/5 rDev -13.6%
2011 vintage, bottle #2029
Pours pitch black and completely opaque with a two finger, light mocha head that very slowly settles into a lasting cap/ring. Very good retention with streaks of lacing left behind.
Strong barrel presence in the aroma with lots of earthy, toasted oak, vanilla, coconut and spicy rye whiskey character countered by a slightly roasted chocolate malt backbone. The spicy rye and whiskey notes really stand out along with wood barrel, coffee bean, oatmeal and bakers chocolate. Dessert/cake like dessert character underneath the whiskey.
On the fuller end of medium bodied with a stronger whiskey barrel presence than the aroma suggests. Very strong dry oak/toothpick character along with prominent whiskey/boozy heat that overpowers the other notes a bit too much for my preference. Slightly peaty with lots of spicy rye and alcohol sweetness dominating the malt backbone. Underneath, there is some roasted malt and sweet chocolate flavor but it's overwhelmed by the wood, rye and whiskey flavors. Decent but a bit harsh and one dimensional making it tougher to drink and not as interesting as the other treatments.
12-25-2012 08:21:33 | More by corby112
Imperial Eclipse Stout - Heaven Hill Rittenhouse Rye from FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 412 ratings.