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Imperial Eclipse Stout - Heaven Hill Rittenhouse Rye - FiftyFifty Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Imperial Eclipse Stout - Heaven Hill Rittenhouse RyeImperial Eclipse Stout - Heaven Hill Rittenhouse Rye

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

450 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 450
Reviews: 157
rAvg: 4.28
pDev: 9.58%
Wants: 262
Gots: 216 | FT: 18
Brewed by:
FiftyFifty Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  11.90% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Jmoore50 on 12-29-2009

Imperial Stout aged 175 days in Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey barrels. The 2012 version contains a small amount of beer aged in Heaven Hill Pikesville Supreme Rye Whiskey barrels.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 450 | Reviews: 157 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.86/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Jeff (ipa247) for this one. 2009 vintage. Green waxed and capped 22oz. bottle poured into a Southampton oversize snifter. Shared with schen9303.

Beer pours near flat. No head. Great legs with spotty lacing and no cling. Beer is the standard opaque black.

Nose is very robust. Smoked malt and wet wood. Chocolate, brownie, booze, and sweet soy sauce. Not very stout-like in the traditional sense as the barrel characteristics almost completely cover the other flavors. But still, complex and very nice.

Opens charred wood. Smoky. Chocolate and sweet soy sauce with ethanol lingering in the background. Some molasses in the middle with notes of smoked malt, dark chocolate, and cocoa powder. End is sweet soy sauce and barrel notes. Woody. Finishes milk chocolate and molasses. Aftertaste is ethanol. Solid.

Medium bodied with very low carbonation. Smooth and oily in the mouth and with a warm tingle going down. Finish is messy with a lingering aftertaste. No real heat to speak of and very very smooth.

This sits far behind the Pappy and Elijah Craig versions of the 50/50 but its still pretty decent. I'm not a huge fan of smoked wood flavors but this beer has great complexity and an exceptional mouthfeel. Worth trying.

Photo of scottfrie
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to colonelforbin for opening up this one. 2009 vintage served in a snifter.

A: Pours black with a bubbly dark brown collar that left tons of spotty lacing down the glass.
S: Rich notes of chocolate, vanilla, roasted coconut and a hint of dark fruits.
T: I get dominating flavors of rich chocolate, warming bourbon, and sweet toffee in the finish along with spicy barrel flavors. I also get flavors of vanilla, prunes, raisins and leather. The aftertaste is nutty and lingers with spicy bourbon.
M: Thick bodied, lowish carbonation, medium dryness and a lingering bourbon warmth. For being a couple years old this beer still has a fairly big alcohol presence.
O: Not as good as some of the other Eclipses, but I loved the spicy (not hot) bourbon flavors in this one. Thanks again for sharing, Mike.

Photo of AgentZero
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On Tap at FoBAB. I had both the 2009 and 2010 versions there. Reviewing 2009, as I liked it better.

A - Black beer with a nice tan head that had some okay lacing on it for a stout.

S - Nicely roasted malts and fat rye whiskey. It's rich, but smells as if it's mellowed out and brings a little less alcohol heat than it might have once upon a time. Some dark chocolate and coffee.

T - Nice rye whiskey taste mixes balances out the chocolate and caramel malts. Roasted malts give it some nice body, as well as some bitter coffee to help mellow the sweetness. There isn't a ton of alcohol heat on this one, tastes pretty good.

M - Slightly thinned out, although I've always felt that the Eclipse series stouts were thinner than a lot of RIS. Lower carbonation.

O - Good beer that went down pretty easily. Good for rye whiskey lovers, and the best thing this beer has going for it is exceptional balance. Would gladly drink again.

Photo of mikesgroove
4.27/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black as night it sludged into the glass and popped up a sticky brown head of nearly two inches before settling down but retaining a wonderful balance of about a half an inch. Lacing coats the whole glass wonderfully. Lots of bourbon in the aroma, hot with vanilla and wood streaming through the air and dominating an otherwise chocolate and roasted masterpiece. Each sip tastes like you are coming straight off the barrel. Wonderful notes of vanilla and butterscotch, warm chocolate and light smoke all come together. Lots of heat, this definitely will benefit from a year or two but such a smooth, creamy finish it was literally as smooth as one could imagine given the strength.

Photo of joshuaseresse
4.3/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Received this bottle from KevSal for winning his BA Haiku LIF, thanks Kevin! 2010 vintage, bottle #462. Shared with a few BAs yesterday after some awesome mountain biking in La Crosse.

A - Really thick, black body with a light mocha foam head. Lacing is splotchy. Bit of a dark amber hue around the edges, mixed with a caramel brown and light purple.

S - Light whiskey, rye, vanilla, cocoa roast, and damp oak. Little sweetness from the honey but not too much. The booze is really restrained on this one, which is pretty nice.

T - Roasted malts, a bit of bakers fudge and chocolate cake. Oak and light whiskey round out the finish, which is not too heavy. Bits of caramel and brown sugar, but I'm not getting a lot of honey. Maybe it is what represents the sweetness but I'm not sure.

M - Good carbonation with the roast leaving a slightly drying effect on the mouth. Pretty smooth and creamy, however.

O - Not too bad, not too bad at all. This is the second 50/50 Stout I've had (Had the Four Roses a few weeks ago) and I can say that I like the Heaven Hill version a little better. A really nice treat to have and something that is even more awesome to win. Thanks again Kevin for the opportunity!

Photo of woosterbill
4.29/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

09 bomber sampled at the Batch 3 Rosso release as part of an Eclipse tasting; huge thanks to Thorpe429, ChrisPro, callmemickey, rlmartin, corey70, and starrdogg for making this possible!

A: Black with bright brown highlights; just a thin ring of tan bubbles. Ok.

S: Whiskey, booze, lots of vanilla, some coffee and dark chocolate. Great.

T: Oak, whiskey, and vanilla dominate, with some dark fruit, citrus, and spicy chocolate leading to a boozy, licorice-heavy finish. A little rough around the edges, but really exciting.

M: Soft, lively medium body; surprisingly well-carbonated for such a flat-looking beer.

O: This was the first one we had after the Pappy, and boy was it a change of pace. The rye barrels really imbued the base stout with huge amounts of spirits, oak, spice, and booze, and all that barrel presence just brought out the underlying complexities of the malts. The '10 Heaven Hill followed, and its youth delivered even more dramatic (one could well say harsh) elements of whiskey, spice, and booze. Compared to the impeccably smooth Pappy variant, this seemed terribly unrefined. Compared to most other BA stouts, it's pretty darn great.

Cheers!

Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
4.62/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage.
Pours out pretty pitch black with only a slight ring of brown at the edge. Tan half inch of head with little rings of lace.

The smell is subdued from age I assume. Chocolate, smooth, melted, bittersweet chocolate is the main component of the nose. Small but rich. Cherry comes next with some oak and earth, finishes with a rye whiskey spice (only slight). I've been adding notes as this warms (same with taste). The smell is much more prevalent as it warms.

The taste starts with heavy chocolate and I mean HEAVY! Rye whiskey is also pretty noticeable up front, spicy and delicious, reminds me of chocolate with chili peppers. Huge oak note followed by some earthy hops that are surprisingly still there. The oak dries it out a little which complements the sweetness well. HOT DAMN!

The mouth is thick and smooth.

I like this one quite a bit more than the other two I got (Four Roses & Evan Williams,) which I liked quite a bit. Maybe it was the Rye Whiskey barrels used that gave it that spice I like, maybe it was the age. Great beer though, very glad I dropped the extra dough.

Photo of BearsOnAcid
3.28/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

'09 bottle

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.

Photo of teamizm
4.17/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 bottle poured into a tulip glass

A - deep espresso with a 1/2 inch head that dissipates leaving lacing

S - rye, dark chocolate, oak, roasted coffee, and more rye

T - huge hit of rye upfront th you get hit with coffee and chocolate notes. Back end in the throat is all rye. You can feel the heat in the stomach. It's boozy

M - nice complexity with velvety mouthfeel. Kind of surprising because I tend to think of non-bourbon spirit aged beers to be thinner because of the lack of vanilla notes. Really liked the smoothness on this one

D - it's a sipper, not too hot, but you know it's been sitting in a rye barrel.

Photo of muttyd
3.7/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of TurdFurgison
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Bottle courtesy of westcoastbeerlvr (thanks Craig!). Split with my wife, although she thinks it tastes too sweet. More for me.

Removing the green wax, uncapping, and pouring, this is a translucent dark brown color, finishing with a thin tan cap of dense foam. The liquor aroma is strong, but so is the sweet malty character of the base beer. Having tried several in the series, some a few times, I'm gonna go ahead and say that the base beer is like a refined Dark Lord, keeping the best parts of the flavor with less of the syrupy sweetness. It's still pretty sweet though.

The barrel treatment is perfect for this sweet stout. The 2010 Heaven Hill bottle is fairly hot, with a big blast of rye whiskey in every sip, and a faint hint of belly burn along with a lasting aftertaste of alcohol. Still, it's the sweetness my wife objects to, and I see where she's coming from. It's just that I think it works.

Not as thick as Dark Lord (thank God), still substantial enough to match the flavors. Excellent as are all the other barrel treatments!

Photo of CrellMoset
4.23/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle 224 of the 2010 vintage, courtesy of a great west coast trader, poured in to a 22 oz. snifter.

Appearance: Pours a fudgy sienna, dark but not obsidian, with a robustness to its hue that's refreshing, about as bright and vivid as you can expect from something refracting as little light as this body does. What started as a gentle pour became more vigorous as the 22 oz., green wax-topped bottle became approximately half empty, coaxing a good finger of solid, creamy, cocoa head out of the depths. The retention of this one leaves a little to be desired, however, and the light, wispy cap faded to a foamy, bubbly sheen and some nice streaks and fuzzy sheets of sandy French beige lacing fairly quickly. The lacing is actually quite nice, better than I would have expected from a 9.5% barrel aged stout, and salvages the score of this one from a 4.0.

Aroma: High and estery, without a lot of body until it nears room temperature, though not hot or too spicy. This one's really about the barrel notes and the spirit additions, showcasing a great vanilla/coconut one-two as well as a smooth but powerful whiskey note that manages to be intense without being abrasive. The cocoa, toast, and earthy astringencies of the base beer definitely take a backseat here, moreso than in many other beers I've shoved my schnoz in to, and though it's very graceful and elegant in its smoothness, it fails to be the most intense or aromatically inviting thing in the world. Mixed bag.

Taste: Very much like a rye whiskey chocolate milkshake, and that's a good thing. I normally start these sorts of reviews by talking about the malts, then on to the hops, then on to the spirit notes, and finally closing them out with all of the other little flourishes that popped up during the tasting experience. But I would almost be remiss if I didn't start this one by talking about the barrel components. This beer is a whiskey vanilla bomb, in every sense - vanilla is strong, almost out of balance with the rest of the notes, and is accompanied by a huge hit of spicy rye whiskey. Fortunately, the whiskey isn't hot or chemical-ly - it is, however, bracingly potent, but I suppose in the best way that it can be bracingly potent, for what that's worth. A few dashes of coconut and green oak round out this Martin and Lewis (for all you QT fans). The remainder of the body of this beer is dry, toasty, mildly brownie-like though bittersweet on the whole. A faint hop bitterness suggests no other hop characteristics, and that's fine.

Mouthfeel: Erratic at first, though it does even out eventually. The body is definitely thinned both by the relatively high attenuation of the malts here as well as the spirit thinning, though the end result is still fat enough that it leaves a bit of a stick in the mouth. It works fairly well with the flavor profile, though it doesn't necessarily blow me away or stand out above any other aspect of this beer.

Drinkability: Better, but not great. Fifty/Fifty continues to impress if not amaze, and I think this one was a little more refined and mature than the Evan Williams. That being said, it still wore its flaws on its sleeve, and I think these beers are still a few years away from being perfected. The 9.5% was hidden to everything but the sixth sense, which was nice, though I caution downing an entire one of these the morning before anything necessitating a clear mind.

Photo of yourefragile
4.32/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amalgamated review of 2009 and 2010 bottles. Shared with Jeff and Adam.

Looks very similar to the other Eclipses, near black, chocolate brown with a minimal than head that quickly fades to nothing.

Aroma is distinct from other Eclipses as roast and burnt malt dominate over the HH bourbon, vanilla and oak. Mildly spicy as well. The 10 however is much boozier than the 09 and was easily identified as the fresh bottle next to 09 EC and HH.

The 09 was remarkably smooth and balanced, with a mild rye spiciness perfectly melding with the malt and char of the base beer and the molasses, vanilla and bourbon of the barrel. The 10 however is bizarrely harsh and boozy for an Eclipse.

The body of the 09 is viscous and smooth, with light carbonation and a smooth, creamy finish. The 10 is overly carbonated and fizzy with a harsh boozy finish. I'm giving the 10 the benefit of the doubt that it will get better with age or that this was a bad bottle. The 09 was extremely drinkable, but a little bland next to the EC.

Resampling 2010 bottle 865 in Dec 2011. Much smoother and milky body; more enjoyable than it was fresh; developing into something nice. Bumping the mouthfeel .5 for being awesomer

Photo of orangesol
4.17/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to largadeer for sharing this one at the post RS party tasting. 2009 vintage served into a tasting glass.

A - Pours deep brown, borderline black, with a small light tan head leaving spotty lacing down the glass.

S - Some dark chocolate, sweet dark malt, and a bit of alcohol from the rye bourbon. Pretty good overall balance but a touch too sweet.

T - Lots of chocolatey sweetness mixes well with the sweet dark malts, some caramel, a touch of coffee, and some alcohol heat from the rye bourbon. This one has a good overall balance, a bit sweet but not to the point of being overpowering. Good stuff.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Nice light feel with plenty of flavor still. Finish is a tiny bit hot with some lingering dark roast.

D - Pretty good. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. It was really cool to see the differences between this version and the Evan Williams version. I can't wait to try the rest of the series.

Photo of hopsbreath
2.9/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 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.

Photo of xpimptastikx
3.86/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage served at ~55F into a tulip.

A - Pours a slightly thin dark brown with a finger of milk chocolate head, leaves good lacing.

S - The nose is disappointing. It's dominated by rye wiskey, a little char, and maybe a glimpse of some dark fruit.

T- Very similar to the nose, but more balance. The dark fruits and slight spice of the rye is very nice, but there is a lingering alcohol presence that is reminiscent of taking a shot without the heat. strange, but I'm becoming used to it and it seems to be going away the warmer the beer gets and the more I drink.

M/D - carbonation is spot on, giving it an oily yet creamy mouthfeel. Drinkability suffers significantly when this beer drops below 55F.

I'm pretty pleased with the first 50/50 Eclipse that I've tried and quite excited to get to the other 2 now!

Photo of Urbancaver
3.98/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Side by side of 2009 and 2010 thanks to w113raf and mistakebythelake

Appearance- Both pour dark dark brown with a minimal amount of light brown head. Not opaque but quite dark. They really look identical between years.

Smell- similar smell between 2009 and 2010. The 2010 has some harsher alcohol characteristics. The 2009 has some great buttery rye barrel characteristics.

Taste- the 2010 is a bit harsh on the tongue. Feels stronger than 10% on the pallette. Lots of dark lightly roasted malts and chocolate flavors. The rye really compliments it well on both years. The 2009 is much smoother and cleaner. The rye comes out stronger.

Mouthfeel- highly carbonated. A bit boozy on the tongue. Honestly. It is lacking on the tongue.

Drinkability- a bit bitter and boozy. Feels stronger than it is

Photo of Gobzilla
4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark brown in color with brown highlights when held up to the light that had a thin bubbly head and left a little lacing sticking to the glass. I was able to detect a little spicey rye in the nose with nice chocolatey aroma with some caramel, mild coffee, and roastiness. The rye was subtle on the palate but blended quite well with the chocolatey flavor that had caramel, molasses, roasty accents and a touch of underlying coffee notes. The brew was full in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had very mild rye spice, chocolatey, roasty, sweet, and silky finish. Another solid imperial stout from 50/50 that was really delicious and was definitely a sipper.

Photo of thagr81us
4.3/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Massive thanks to largadeer for sharing this one at Beechwood BBQ after the Bruery Reserve Society Party. 2009 Vintage! Served from bottle into a goblet. Poured pitch black witha minimal light tan head. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, dark chocolate, and slight alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, chocolate, and alcohol. It had a heavy feel on the palate with low carbonation. Overall this brew was quite excellent. Had a very nice flavor and aroma going on here. Even though the flavors weren't very complex, they were still quite nice and worked well together. An absolute must try given the chance.

Photo of sprucetip
4.11/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thick black with just a little light around the edges when backlit. Thin tan head dissolves to film and ring, and leaves some small specks of lacing.

Not much in the nose at all at first. Later it's mostly smoky, kind of roasty,and a little bit boozy, but not a whole lot else, and it's not strong.

Malty sweetness hits first and fades gradually as the strong roasty flavors increase. Coffee, molasses and chocolate add depth. Impressively smooth and complex.

Well carbonated, rich and full body, strong warming present, with a bit of a sting. Some bitterness in the finish.

Smooth, rich, complex, roasty and balanced. Nose is weak, but it's a very good beer. I'm grateful for the opportunity to have tried it.

Photo of craytonic
3.18/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

Drinkability:

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.

Photo of gumushie
2.42/5  rDev -43.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 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.

Photo of GregSVT
4.42/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

200th review! 22oz waxed bomber into a snifter. Bottle #2069...2009 Vintage.

A: Pours a dark black with ruby highlights and a very small head barely made it's way out of the beer. What showed up left some lacing on the glass but quickly faded to a ring. This was pretty disappointing but seems to be about par compared to the Elijah Craig bottle I had earlier this year.

S: The nose is incredibly decadent with huge aromas of chocolate, molasses, vanilla, and roasty coconut.

T: The taste follows the nose along with a slighty bitter charred element from the barrel and then some vanilla and a spicey rye flavor on the finish. A bit more barrel flavor than the EC...wonderful stuff.

M: The feel is thin like the EC version yet a bit creamy.

D: Another incredible Eclipse beer from FiftyFifty. I would drink these all the time if I had access to them.

Photo of Arbitrator
2.91/5  rDev -32%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 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.

Photo of jrallen34
4.17/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A black pour with a nice full head, some decent lacing...The aroma is strong, lots of bourbon, vanilla, roasty...The taste is good, bourbon and chocolate, very creamy. Roasty again, not bitter but a touch of alcohol...I had this side by side with the Elijah Craig at a recent tasting and I actually liked this better, the EC was really burnt.

Imperial Eclipse Stout - Heaven Hill Rittenhouse Rye from FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 450 ratings.