Imperial Eclipse Stout - Evan Williams Bourbon - FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 491 | Reviews: 174 | Display Reviews Only:
3.1/5 rDev -28.4%
Had many of the eclipse series together. This is the 10 vintage. Pour is jet black and thin tan head. Nose is woody, bourbon, and some light chocolate. Sweet malts, sugary, and some dark fruits in the flavor. Dark chocolate underneath with bourbon and wood coming through strong. Full bodied feel, dry finish and low carbonation. Overly sweet with loads of wood and heat. Less complexity than the 4 roses and just as unintegrated.
12-15-2011 16:21:27 | More by cpetrone84
3.28/5 rDev -24.2%
I've had ~10 bottles of this version over the past year, and each one has been different. Unfortunately, the vast majority have been mediocre and a couple were outright bad. That's expected, because FiftyFifty hires a mobile bottler of questionable quality, and that results in bottle variation. Still -- while I understand it, I can't really forgive it at $25 a bottle. They've moved the bottling in-house for the 2011 batch, which is good.
But at the time of this writing, I'm frustrated by the trends in the bottles I've had. I'm averaging them in the score; the ones I've had would range between a D+ and an A-, so there's a big swing. Since more of them have been closer to the lower end of the spectrum, that brings this review down.
A good bottle is described in the text below. The bad ones have more muddled flavors with an overly tannic finish and a watery body. As much as I enjoy Eclipse, I can't give 50/50 a pass here. As a whole I am very disappointed by the 2010 Eclipses.
Chilled bottle into a glass. 2010 vintage. Note: the Eclipse series greatly benefits from being served at 62 F or so.
A: Pours a dark brown that appears translucent in smaller quantities. It has a moderate tan head; retention is decent for an imperial stout, and it leaves a few trails of lace down the sides of the glass. As always, the weakest part of the beer is here.
S: After trying some single-barrel Evan Williams 1997 recently and noticing the same flavors in Perfect Storm, I'm picking up some common themes here. A toasted pecan note (this is almost the signature EW smell to me now), dark chocolate, caramel, spices, and orange. The spiced-orange-caramel effect is reminiscent of a dark, organic honey.
T: This leads with vanilla and dark chocolate, thought there is a slight milk sweetness to it. Spiced caramel is strong. A chocolate-orange flavor near the finish is reminiscent of holiday candy. Roast isn't particularly notable in the flavor, but there is a mild presence of it in the background that offsets the sweeter elements. I'd credit the balance more to tannins, which stand with a pepper bite in the finish. The aftertaste is mostly clean, though it leaves retronasal hints of vanilla, dark chocolate, and spice (almost ginger-like).
M: While this is not viscous, it's full-bodied in flavor. The beer doesn't finish dry, but tannins emerge and give it an astringent feel. There is also a mild heat; the spices, tannins, and heat together make the beer harsher than I prefer. I think this aspect will improve with age. I like my beers silky-smooth, and I know from experience that Eclipses can do this. There's nothing particularly wrong here, but I think this mouthfeel would better appeal to spirits drinkers (I am not one).
D: Definitely a solid beer. The tap version I had at the brewery yesterday was a bit lacking in complexity, though it was more chocolatey and less hot. This bottle goes the other way. Solid stuff so far. I think the 09s were better upon release, so this is a small disappointment, but I'll see how the remaining iterations of the '10 are.
I'm also aware that this beer is going to vary a lot. Apparently two bottles opened last night displayed remarkably different characteristics. I may tweak it (averaging) as further bottles come up.
01-08-2011 20:46:41 | More by Arbitrator
3.45/5 rDev -20.3%
Reviewed from notes. Bottle poured into tulip, black with brown edges tiny bubbly collar. Pretty run of the mill in terms of looks. Smells like bourbon water, malty biscuits, alcohol, buttery toffee, kind of nutty vanilla. Taste is hot and boozey at first, vanilla bourbon, oak, spicy barrel char, slight roast in the end. Medium bodied with a light carbonation, very hot and a bit watery for the style. A decent tasting beer despite the alcohol presence. The mouthfeel kills this beer for me.
04-16-2011 17:51:23 | More by nkersten
3.5/5 rDev -19.2%
Bottle, next to the Elijah Craig, Pappy Van Winkle, Brandy, Four Roses Eclipse bottles, and some other barrel aged imperial stouts. This was consumed toward the end of the tasting and my notes are horrible, but I trust my judgment at that time: Fairly small head. Slightly better than 4 Roses. Coconut Sugars." To try to expand on that, if possible, it was probably the best of the three 2010 Eclipse bottles (PVW not included as that was 2008), but was still quite a bit under the 2009 bottles. The 2010 bottles all seemed fairly sugary and under attenuated.
05-10-2011 01:59:27 | More by JAXSON
Nova Scotia (Canada)
3.58/5 rDev -17.3%
Pours a deep black with some light coming through around the edges, absolutely no head.
I found this beer has a very mild nose with bourbon, oak, vanilla, and some sweet chocolate coming through.
Starts off with some nice bourbon flavours (mild not overpowering), vanilla, raisin, prune, caramel, and it finishes with a little bite of alcohol that lingers slightly. Not sure if this is just me, but I found it slightly hollow in the back end.
Much thinner then I was expecting, but it was still smooth and creamy, low carbonation.
Overall this is a good barrel aged stout, but I was not blown away.
08-30-2011 22:20:14 | More by mmurphy525
3.63/5 rDev -16.2%
Bottle courtesy of Hophead101 and mikereaser. Thanks guys! Bottle #2197.
A- Pours a dark brown with a one finger off white head. Some lines of lacing are left behind.
S- When served around 50 degrees, this beer has nearly no aroma. However, after warming up a bit, oak and bourbon are prominent upfront with a hint of roasted malt, unsweetened chocolate, brown sugar and honey.
T- Earthy oak upfront, bourbon, dark chocolate, roasted malt and a bit of sweet honey. Not bad, but really not complex.
M- Medium to high carbonation a fairly thin body. The mouthfeel is too thin and could use a little more body. Finishes with some heat.
O- Underwhelming would be the best word to describe this beer. There didn't seem to be a strong base beer that incorporated the barrel aging treatment and this just tasted like a bourbon forward beer with a watery body. I'm glad I got a chance to try my first bottle of the Eclipse series, but I'm curious why this is a $30 bottle and am a little worried about the 12 yr EC having the same disappointing results.
02-10-2012 05:47:05 | More by iadler
3.63/5 rDev -16.2%
On tap at City Beer Store. 2010 Evan Williams. Pours a black that is brownish at the edges when held up to the light. A small tan-chocolaty color head sticks around for a while and leaves a ring around the edge and leaves a decent amount of lacing on the glass. The aroma is cocoa, vanilla, some roasted notes, as well as some light bourbon. The taste very much follows the nose. Initial taste is cocoa, going into the vanilla and bourbon as well as some roastiness. The finish is some darker chocolate with a medium bitterness. There is quite a bit of char on the finish that isn't very pleasant. Light bodied for an imperial stout with relatively low carbonation. I found this to be the worst out of the 2010 Eclipses. I know there is supposed to be some variation so maybe I got lucky with the other bottles I opened.
06-27-2011 22:19:14 | More by jethrodium
3.68/5 rDev -15%
Black wax. Bottle #1237, 2010 vintage. Thanks to DankTheTank for this. Poured into a snifter.
3.0 A: Black color. I could only muster about a finger of creamy light brown head that falls quickly and leaves a small ring of lacing.
4.0 S: The bourbon and barrel are the strongest components of the nose. Leather and melon bourbon, good amount of vanilla, and oak to a lesser extent. The underlying stout doesn't contribute enough to match up with the bourbon notes, but I can still pick some stuff out. Roasted barley, molasses, caramel and toffee to a lighter extent, and some milk chocolate. I'd rather have the stout kick the bourbon's ass, but it's still pretty good.
3.5 T: The taste unfortunately follows the nose. I really love bourbon barrel stouts, but the best kind take a killer stout and complement it with a bourbon touch. In this one, the bourbon is the headliner and the stout is just the opening act. Bourbon components are leather, lots of vanilla, raisin and fig, melon, peat, and just a touch boozy. Stout contributes roasted barley, milk chocolate, molasses, and a touch of caramel. Not as robust as I'd prefer.
3.5 M: Medium body, a bit thin for my liking. Carbonation is a bit lower than I prefer, but is alright overall. Could be creamier, but is pretty smooth. Warming on finish, but not hot.
4.0 D: This is a bourbon drinker's beer. The stout isn't all that impressive, but the barrel aging is well done. I'd be curious to taste what the stout is like without the bourbon influence. Anyway, there isn't a hint of astringency from the barrel. Easy drinking though. It's beers like these that make me want to appreciate bourbon more, but at the end of the day, I want a thick and rich stout and in that regard, this one doesn't pull through.
03-13-2011 02:03:23 | More by DavoleBomb
3.73/5 rDev -13.9%
This was the last beer we opened up during our epic tasting last weekend. Poured into a snifter.
Appearance: Pours almost black with just a little light coming through the very edge of the pour. There is a layer of tan head.
Smell: Sweet, roasted malt up front with a strong presence from the bourbon barrel. The bourbon dominates the smell of this beer.
Taste: This one is quite hot from the bourbon. Dark roast and some sweet dark fruit notes. The finish is bitter. Not a ton of sweetness from the malt.
Mouthfeel: The body is on the thick side with some heat from the bourbon. Tingly carbonation and a dry finish.
Overall: I would have liked the bourbon to be a bit less hot. A bit more malt sweetness coming out would have been alright with me.
12-20-2011 05:12:12 | More by oline73
3.73/5 rDev -13.9%
2010, bottle #1389. Part of my stout tasting on October 22nd, 2011. 2-3 oz. into snifter. The second variant we opened. Certain parts copied over from the other Eclipse reviews.
A – Thin, semi-dark brown coloring. Lacking any sort of considerable head but showing a decent amount of alcohol on the sides of my glass.
S – Definitely more phenolic than Heaven’s Hill 2010. A bit harsh on the barrel aromas. Needed some sort of spice or sweetness component to cut the dominant bourbon and oak. Chocolate and roasted undertones.
T – Again, a rougher form of bourbon barrel upfront with a leathery, oaky finish. Considerable alcohol burn and warming on the backend.
M - Medium body. Carbonation is expected, decent medium-length finish.
D – Feels less integrated than Heaven’s Hill and Four Roses. The finish is the weakest component of this beer, by far, and it needed more age to mellow the bourbon and alcohol tones.
10-27-2011 03:38:11 | More by Auracom
3.73/5 rDev -13.9%
My mate Doops and I were lucky enough to be able to try the entire 2010 - 2008 series. This was the first bottle we opened. A big thanks to everyone who made putting this set together possible. Shout goes out to Masterski and dboon for providing bottles of the 2010 Evan Williams. Thanks gents!
From a bomber into a snifter
APPEARANCE: All the 2010 bottles basically look the same. Thin, transparent pour yields a small, medium looking, tan head with decent retention. Head fades relatively quickly to a faint wisp and ring. Black body, quite transparent, with no carbonation evident. A ring remains until the end leaving some dots of lacing down the glass. Just too light and transparent for the style, unfortunately.
SMELL: This one is quite barrel heavy. Very similar to the HH variant we opened. Lots of bourbon, oak and vanilla up front. Some hints of dark chocolate come through a little as it sits, but this is a heavy bourbon barrel nose. More barrel and bolder than the 4R version, but not quite as much base beer is detectable as in the HH ‘09.
TASTE: Bourbon barrel up front with plenty of bourbon, oak and vanilla on the palate. One of the more bourbon forward variants. A bit of the base beer comes through with some roasted malts and dark chocolate through the middle into the finish. A bold aftertaste of bourbon barrel and some bitter, dark chocolate lingers nicely on the palate. The bourbon barrel is quite flavorful as opposed to being boozy, and the base and barrel mesh well together. Good stuff and much like the HH variant.
PALATE: Medium-full body and medium carbonation. Creamy on the palate, goes down fine and finishes slightly sticky. A touch of heat lingers as well.
OVERALL: This is a solid beer that is worth checking out. Although the pour is rather thin and unimpressive, the rest of the beer is quite enjoyable. I would put this somewhere around the middle of the series, being behind the HH, 4R and definitely the EC. This is probably the best example of what the series is all about though, and while I don’t think I’d go hunting for it again, I wouldn’t turn it down either. Plenty of this was brewed and bottled, so if you’re curious about the series, this would be a good place to start exploring I suppose. Recommended.
02-07-2012 19:50:00 | More by Jeffo
3.75/5 rDev -13.4%
A study in corn whiskey for those fans. Not so carbonated. Boozy. Some lace drops. The barreling yielded tastes of coconut, caramel, chocolate. Drinkable, owing much to the sweetness, but to me just a regular imperial stout. Bottle from Premier split with Liam.
03-14-2013 23:52:18 | More by Sammy
Imperial Eclipse Stout - Evan Williams Bourbon from FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 491 ratings.