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Schlafly Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout - The Schlafly Tap Room

Not Rated.
Schlafly Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial StoutSchlafly Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

829 Ratings
THE BROS
84
good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 829
Reviews: 387
rAvg: 4.07
pDev: 11.06%
Wants: 88
Gots: 211 | FT: 12
Brewed by:
The Schlafly Tap Room visit their website
Missouri, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: maxpower on 11-23-2002

Our Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout is brewed with a big malt flavor, plenty of hop bitterness for balance and roasted barley that imparts notes of dark chocolate. As a finishing touch, the beer is transferred to freshly-emptied Kentucky bourbon barrels and aged before being carbonated and bottled. The barrel aging gives the beer a spicy, vanilla character and a pleasant, warming finish.

In the 18th Century, Imperial Stout was first brewed in London for export to the court of Catherine II of Russia. The beer had to be robust enough to maintain during transport.

This beer will continue to age well in a cool dark place for several years, but it is ready to enjoy now.

40 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 829 | Reviews: 387 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BigJarv79
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of Lawnboy33
5/5  rDev +22.9%

Photo of radicalruckus
5/5  rDev +22.9%

Photo of AlCaponeJunior
4.32/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

EDIT 29Nov2011

Had the 2011 version now, that's six years of vintages for this beer that I've had.

We'll leave the 2006 version review up. This is the sixth year of vintages that I've gotten my hands on for this brew, and my most extensive vertical I've ever had.

The 06 version still had a good pop when I opened the bottle and a pretty good head on it, especially considering the age.

Smell was really nice, tons of bourbon, vanilla and woody notes, it's almost like the bourbon barrel took over during the aging of this beer.

Taste wise the bourbon barrel itself was very prominent, but the bourbon was not. Very, very smooth, almost no hint of alcohol on the taste, just a little on the warming effect as it goes down. Incredibly smooth taste, vanilla is huge, chocolate is smooth hershey's dark and milk chocolate mixed, coffee is between espresso and cappuccino, leathery flavors intermingle nicely, it's complex as hell and certainly one of the best aging beers that my limited experienced can vouch for.

The body is full, thick, rich as hell, and incredibly smooth. The aging has lightly reduced the carbonation and increased the slickness and smoothness of this fine brew. Stout lovers, age this one, you won't be disappointed.

Schlafly, you have demonstrated an amazing ability to create diverse and wonderful beers. This one certainly deserves the accolade I've given it over my many tastings of this fine brew.

*** other vintages and tastings/reviews listed below ***

2008 version.

Pours very dark, like black coffee. Clear complexion. Few bubbles and low carbonation. Fair head quite decent lacing but not outstanding in appearance.

Smells quite nice. Coffee and chocolate. Brown sugar and molasses. Caramel malts. Light bourbon.

Tastes quite sweet and chocolaty. Coffee and espresso accent nicely. There's a lightly roasted character that blends in with the mild bourbon barrel background flavors. I don't taste anything hoppy at all. Heavy caramel malts. Molasses, brown sugar, and strangely enough... red twizzlers. Complex and flavorful.

Notably, I can't taste alcohol at all, but I can sure feel the kick. Excellent and almost scarily concealed ABV.

Heavy in the mouth, slick on the tongue, this thick, rich brew meets the standard and beyond for how an imperial stout should feel. Low bitterness, but a nicely lingering wet aftertaste that reminds of a great cappuccino with extra "sugar in the raw."

Drinkability is quite good. Compared to other imperial stouts, I really think this one goes down smooth, rich, and easy. Whilst price and availability is certainly an obstacle, in the tradition of rating to style (and ignoring such trivial matters as price and availability) I'm rating the drinkability on this one very high.

This beer deserves an excellent rating, and that's what I'm going to give it. I will be buying another couple bottles this weekend when I go to St Louis again.

***

UPDATE: having the 2009 vintage now. Tastes great, same as the 2008 I originally reviewed. Smoothness and drinkability goes up as it warms.

***

Notably, I haven't changed the ratings over the five vintages I've tried. The look is generally iffy between 3.5 and 4 though; the '06 really had a good head for such an old beer. The rest has been very consistent (maybe not identical though) from year to year. Honestly I probably liked the 06 version best but that may just say that aging this beer is the way to go.

Photo of BuffaloBill12
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of seth72104
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of lh012717
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of CellarGimp
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of richbrew
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of kennylopez
4.42/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a 2008 vintage into a snifter.

Appearance: pours a dark black and mildly carbonated leaving tan head with little lacing as I drink it.

Smells. a coffee and bourbon note that adds a sweet vanilla scent to the roasted malt and caramel hint in the finish.

Tastes: extremely well balanced. there is a oak and bourbon tasted that contributes a sweet layer of brown sugar and vanilla. There is a bold coffee taste that I notice, but I don't drink coffee therefore I am pretty sensitive to the taste and I really enjoyed it.

Mouthfeel: a well carbonated RIS in my opinion. the 10.5% is mellowed from the barrel aging and adds a layer of sweetness that is quite a pleasurable brew.

Overall: I really enjoyed this stout. I picked up a few bottle after trying it at a bottle share get together at Linwood Liquors with my buddy Jake. Thanks for turning me on to this one I have a couple in the cellar for the future. I would recommend this to everyone, but wish I would have tried this one fresh. Great brew 9.5 out of 10 in my opinion.

Photo of daledeee
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A large bottle in a box. Makes me think this is special stuff. Thanks to a friend for bringing this to try.

Pours a completely dark glass with a minor head. I think this was aged quite a while.

Nose is quite strong with earth, roasted malt and coffee

Taste is on the desert sweet side. Nice chocolate and milk balance with a good bitter finish. Really easy to drink with a nip in the carbonation. Lots of alcohol on the side!

Photo of paperbackfoster
3.54/5  rDev -13%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2010 'vintage' poured to a snifter.

A - Dark, solid body capped by a fluid head. Comes up to a finger before dissipating to a sheet. Doesn’t break, but doesn’t lace or have much body, either.

S - Like a chocolate liqueur with lacings of sweet fruits and berries - raspberry and blackberry, cherry, a characteristic ripeness of Belgian yeast. Notes of an almond nuttiness. Keyword is sweet.

T - The body is backed by a lot of surprises, given the nose. The roasted malt and flavors of the oak aging come out more than expected. However, the malt is again taken by caramel sweetness. Ripe fruit, darker berries, and a hot alcohol flavor. Bittersweet chocolate and the acidity of coffee come through. The bottle asks you to taste it with a piece of chocolate. I didn’t, but could definitely see how it’s supposed to work out and would be a treat.

M - Like a lot of Schlafly offerings, thinner than I’d like. The finish, while dry, has a lingering sweetness that dims the effect.

Overall - I like it. I usually like - not love - Schlafly’s imperial offerings, with a small handful of them blowing me away. This one, I could see aging very well. I remember the 2009 (maybe 2008?) version being excellent. This one has a sweetness and some yeasty heat that, in my opinion, could use some calming down - and would, with age. A good imperial stout, bordering in many ways on a strong ale and having a lot in common with the brewery’s own barleywine.

Photo of jgagne
4.38/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 Vintage poured into 10oz cigar city snifter

A-Pitch black opaque body with small lace white head.

S-Intense bourbon scents. A bit overwhelming.Under the pronounced bourbon, hints of raisin and roasted maltiness.

T-Wow, surprisingly balanced considering the smell. This beer has great caramel, malty smoothness. The bourbon flavor is not overwhelming, it only adds to the complexity of the beer. A real surprise.

M-A pretty light "heavy" beer with low carbonation

O-A great well balance beer, a true treat that should be savored. Strongly suggest letting this one sit. Had a taste of a 2010, and it was ok, this 2008 is a gem. Wonderful brew.

Photo of Mscarpen
4.3/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked this one up on my drive from Iowa to SC.

Appearance: dark amber with less than one finger of head and light lacing.

Smell: Light alcohol, cinnamon, caramel notes, and sweet fruit/slight vanilla. Bourbon notes as it warms.

Taste: caramel, honey, brandied cherries, with a warm slight back end bitterness. Boozing for a 10.5% IS. As it warms, the bourbon starts to blossom and hit the front end of he flavor.

Mouthfeel: medium viscosity, with a decent bit of syrup.. Medium carbonation.

Overall: a lovely beer at close to room temp.

Photo of Kinsman
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from 2010

Nice pitch black body. Aggressive pour gives a good bit of bubbly tan head that leaves just a bit of stickiness behind.

Good bit of bourbon aroma on the nose with nice sweet vanilla notes. Hints of fruit and some roastiness in the background. Light hints of alcohol as well.

Not the most bourbonized barrel aged beer I've come across but still has plenty of vanilla and oak character to go around. A bit of roasted barley and dark cherry and fruit flavors. Seems to hit a nice balance between the stout flavors and bourbon flavors.

Mouthfeel is rather light for 10.5%. Smooth texture and surprisingly drinkable. Overall, a solid barrel aged stout. Maybe a little boozy for some but I'm digging it.

Photo of RickS95
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle from 2008

Pours a thick, rich black. I tried and tried, but could only find a hint of brown around the edges and that was only after holding it up to a light. Sadly, there is little head and what's there doesn't stay long.

A lot of good scents greet the nose. Caramel and chocolate are easy to pick up. Some anise possibly, along with the oak. Hops make only a brief appearance.

Everything in the nose is easily found with your tongue, including the bourbon. Whereas the alcohol wasn't much of a player in the nose, it's noticeable on the tongue.

Early on it's sweet and creamy. As the beer flows across the tongue, it remains that way. In the finish, the hops and alcohol become stronger and stronger, but neither can control the sweetness. Maybe a bit too sweet.

The sweetness makes it somewhat easy to drink, despite the high ABV. It's a good beer that everyone should try, but it is strong and I have a feeling the alcohol will hit you without notice.

Photo of homebrew311
4.19/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I smuggled this one with me to Mexico so I could enjoy (and tick) at least one tasty brew while on vacation. This is the 2008 vintage.

A: pours fairly light for an imperial stout, dark brown, some deep reddish highlights, white head, some lacing

S: nose features a heavy dose of oak, some molasses and maple syrup, followed by some mellow vanilla and chocolate. Not getting a whole lot of roast here, smells a bit sweet.

T: the tastes starts with a significant amount of bourbon featuring vanilla and oak, molasses and maple comes through as well. Things are pretty sweet, but it never becomes over the top... it is actually quite well balanced... no burn from the alcohol. Notes of carob show up in the background as well.

MF: low carbonation, almost no hiss upon popping the top, body feels thick and creamy

O: I believe that age has done some favors for this brew as the bourbon is strong, but comes through smoothly with no aggression. This beer is proof that a high quality bba stout can be produced and released with out a exorbitant price tag or endless amounts of hype.

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
2.92/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

really excited to try this beer! this will be my second Schafly brew that I have tried really enjoyed the first which was a Coffee & Raspberry Stout. Expectations are high!

Vintage 2009.

here we go...
poured into tulip glass.

Appearance: Opaque Black bodied beer with a Khaki/Tan head. Head is about one and a half fingers high. Receeds into heavy lacing on side of glass.

Smell: dry bakers cocoa, milk chocolate, and bourbon. Getting an overipe dark fruit notes that are moderately sour smelling. The nose was good until this showed up; makes the beer smell unpleasant even though the sour smell is not overpowering everything.

Taste: Just as I feared. It tastes sour, just like it smells. Getting strong black licorice and molasses notes. Getting a mild milk chocolate flavor and a little bit of the bourbon burn. Mild dark fruits in background as well. This beer is off; its either infected or just past it prime; its confirmed by nose and taste. The sour taste ruined it for me on this one! Almost a wine like taste, kind of vinious when you look at the whole picture of flavors coming out of this beer.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied beer with lower end of moderate carbonation. Mouthfeel is mildly creamy and a little slick. A little bit better than average mouthfeel.

Overall: This beer bummed me out. I might have expected too much, but I could not drink even half the bottle. I just think its past it prime or it might be infected.

Photo of vandemonian
3.58/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Schlafly Imperial Stout is an average Russian Imperial Stout. Find something better if you can.

A: The head was black and about 3mm high. I lasted awhile and faded to good lacing. 4

S: Malty and almost sour. Noticeable alcohol. 3.5

T: Sour with some alcohol and whisky barrel flavour. The finish is milky with a hint of smoke. I don't love it. 3.5

M: Foamy. 4

O: 3.5.

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to black13 for sending me this one!

2008 vintage.

Pours an almost opaque super dark black with a 1 inch puffy dark tan head that fades to a film on the top of the beer. A thick curtain of lace sticks to the sides of the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark malt, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and the barrel aged aromas - vanilla, bourbon, and oak. However, the smells are very subdued on the first pour but get better as the beer warms. Taste is of dark roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate, some dark fruits, bourbon, vanilla, and a dry wood flavor on the finish. There is a very mild roast flavor that fades from the palate quickly after each sip. A slight alcohol kick in the mouth with each sip. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with a lower level of carbonation. Overall, this is a good RIS with a really good aroma that comes around as the beer warms but the taste is not as good as I was hoping for.

Photo of Spica66
4.35/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Bought this from AlleyCatKing at his store in South Bend. Shared as our 10th annual Heroes Toast on 09/11/11 between myself and gwuilliums on my deck on a perfect September afternoon.

2008 Vintage

A: Very dark pour. Only burgundy highlights on the very edges in full sunlight. Excellent head formation and retention. Some light lacing persists as drinking continues. Looks exactly like an imperial stout should.

S: Very dark roasted smell immediately, then bourbon quickly follows. I get molasses and bitter chocolate and very dark raisin or fig.

T: This is a really well balanced bourbon stout. Very dark flavors and bourbon play extremely well together. We took Schlafly's suggestion and each had a bar of 70% chocolate while drinking this bottle. What a perfect compliment they were for each other.

M: For as dark as the pour was, there was none of the thickness I expected to get. Way too thin for an RIS, especially a barrel aged one.

O: Other than the thin mouthfeel, this beer is very well done.

Photo of prototypic
4.25/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to lightindarkness for sending me this one several years ago.

2008 Vintage

Reserve Imperial Stout pours a dark chocolate fudge color. It’s almost opaque, but backlighting reveals a few burgundy highlights at the edges. A tan head stands over two fingers tall and looks really nice. It recedes pretty quickly, leaving a sticky, spotty coat of lace trailing down the glass.

The nose is quite good. There is a nice mix of roasted and chocolate malts up front. Bourbon jumps in quickly and makes its presence known. It has a fairly strong presence, but is restrained enough to let the stout elements share the spotlight. There are some secondary notes of oak and molasses, but they’re subtle. Alcohol is there, but doesn’t smell too powerful. Perhaps time has been good to it.

The flavor is very impressive. The malt base is a really nice mix of chocolate, sweet caramel, and roasted malts. They all seem to be fairly equal in strength. Bourbon complements the malt base extremely well. Its flavor is strong, but isn’t overwhelming. It works really well with the malts to create an impressive flavor. Secondary flavors of vanilla, molasses, and oak add quality depth and complexity. They shine much more in flavor. Alcohol isn’t overwhelming or hot. Finishes with a chocolate and bourbon combo.

The body definitely feels a little too light and thin. Carbonation is light and restrained. It’s not bad, but it really needs more body. Big stouts simply need big bodies. For what it’s worth, it does go down easy. I won’t have any problem polishing off this 750.

I’ve been hanging onto this bottle for several years. I don’t know how it was fresh, but it’s simply excellent at this point. I do think it would benefit from a bit more body, but that’s nitpicking. The flavor rocks. If you bump into a bottle of this, pick it up and put it back for a few years. You’ll be glad you did.

Photo of Bierguy5
4.42/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle, 10.5% abv, 2010 vintage. Not quite jet black in color. Tan head fades away quickly, and leaves no spots of lace at all.

Roasty, with a nice caramel, bourbon and oak tone. All are balanced well. A note of alcohol, but not overwhelming. Some dark chocolate floating about in the nose as well. Very nice.

Roasty up front with some bittersweet chocolate notes. A nice bourbon edges shines in, and leaves with a flash of oak tannins. Just a bit of sweetness. All seems balanced very well. A slight vanilla fade at the end.

Medium body, maybe a tad thin, but that is really being picky. Some alcohol burn still, but not overwhelming. Very well rounded. A very well made beer. I enjoyed this one as much as the barleywine.

Photo of Metalmonk
4.18/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance shows a deep black with ruby highlights embedded into it when held to light. Head is a super-creamy inch-thick thing, tan and longer lasting than expected. A couple tilts and swirls seem to show a thinner RIS than normal, but we'll see about that...

Nose is bourbon and wood, in that order, and they shut out just about all other RIS characteristics. Not a big problem for me, in the aroma department, but if there are no coffee and/or chocolate and/or dark fruit characteristics in the taste, well, that's another story...

The taste and feel combine here to deliver the kind of succulence I like so much in a quality big stout. And that depends a lot on balance, which this has. While the alcohol and bourbon combine for a rather "warm" vibe, the wood keeps an earthy edge going, while gooey dark chocolate and seriously juicy dark fruits (fig, plum, raisin) deliver their awesome goods. While the body is a bit thinner and the texture slicker than many beers of this type, it works very well. Woody bitterness and strong vanilla tones hang around in the long finish.

My second Schlafly beer, and my second great experience with this brewery. And, admit it, you know you're a hopeless beer geek when you can not only spell Franziskaner, Weihenstephaner and Westvleteren without looking, but also spell Schlafly without screwing it up.

Photo of schwaeh
3.8/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

09' bottle split with inebriated joker.

A: Dark black. Still has some good carbonation. Pours with a half inch burlap colored head that quickly fades into some light bubbles.

S: Smokey sweet bourbon, light chocolate, some molasses. As it warms caramel, roasted malt, and vanilla come out of hiding.

T: Smooth bourbon and chocolate. The vanilla and oak are all very mellow and integrated at this age, while the alcohol is still pretty strong. Roasted malt and some toasty grains are all clear within the base stout along with some caramel highlights.

M: Lighter medium body. This is smooth and coating with low carbonation once in the mouth. The alcohol takes this category down a bit.

O: I've had my eye on this for a while, I was pleasantly pleased to find bottles of it sitting around for $11. This is a great value and a beer that's easy to find where it's distributed. I would say this is great at this 2-3 year age, any longer and it might lose it's luster.

Schlafly Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout from The Schlafly Tap Room
91 out of 100 based on 829 ratings.