Imperial Eclipse Stout - Vanilla Bean | FiftyFifty Brewing Co.

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Imperial Eclipse Stout - Vanilla BeanImperial Eclipse Stout - Vanilla Bean

Brewed by:
FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.90%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by MasterSki on 12-06-2013

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Reviews: 40 | Ratings: 193
Photo of BeersandBread
1.37/5  rDev -68.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.25

Top 5 worst beers I have ever had. For $30 this should not happen.
Look: This got me excited, dark, nice head
Smell: not much. Not much vanilla. That is why I bought this beer.
Taste: HORRIBLE! Bitter upfront followed by alcohol burn of artificial vanilla extract. Ends with a bitterness that sucks.
Mouthfeel: Thinner than water.
Overall: considering going to small claims court. Worst beer I have ever had for the money.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.49/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Bottle shared by Curran, thanks man.

This one pours a fairly dark black, with healthy half inch head, and a little bit of lacing.

Smells like sweet but earthy vanilla bean, with oak, roasted malt, and chocolate.

Not long after the pour, this is pretty tasty. There's just mounds of vanilla here, an almost overwhelming amount, with a good roasty bitterness, and bitter oak. There's a bit of chocolate, too. However, when this warms, it gets kind of unpleasant. The bitterness becomes fatiguing, and slightly medicinal. I had a hard time finishing my half of the bottle. This is a beer where a small pour is very necessary.

This is pretty thick, probably thicker than most of these variants. It's got a normal level of carbonation.

This is hardly worth the money and one of the more disappointing variants of the Eclipse series.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.5/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Black with a nice mocha head. Thick collar and lots of wisps.

Smell - Tons of vanilla. Some milk chocolate. Not much if any bourbon.

Taste - Lots of vanilla again. Dark malt, but not quite chocolate up front. Milk chocolate builds into the back end. Vanilla comes back with oak and booziness. Makes it seem like vanilla extract.

Mouthfeel - Boozy. Medium heavy. Well carbonated.

Overall - I don't get much bourbon at all, just some oak. The vanilla becomes intrusive.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.83/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours one shade shy of black with an oily tight band that coalesces around the shoulders. Nose reveals ethanol, cocoa and artificial vanilla notes. Taste follows nose; however, it comes off a bit watered down. Mouthfeel is light-medium in body (closer to light) with an almost still carbonation. All and all, decent; however, a bit thin.

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Photo of EyePeeAyBryan
4/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Really was hoping for a vanilla bomb (probably like most) but unfortunately just got a hint of vanilla on the finish and some sweetness, possibly from another adjunct addition. A really solid base stout but this really didn't blow my mind and certainly not at the $28 price point.

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Photo of dar482
4.01/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer hits of marshmallow, vanilla ice cream, vanilla frosting, cream soda for days. Followed with some brown sugar and honey sweetness, without much roast to back up the beer. Bourbon melds with the light notes of milk chocolate with a sharp tannic oak finish and alcohol drying and warming on the way down.

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Photo of dwagner003
4.02/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Looks is pretty good.. A bit thin. Smell is pure vanilla.. Like a vanilla extract. Taste is good when it's cold, but when it warms the vanilla gets very artificial. It's good, but almost has an artificial sweetener flavor. A whole glass gets cloyingly sweet.

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Photo of M_chav
4.02/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The best eclipse variant in my book. Really held its own in a blind taste test of 10 Vanilla bean barrel aged beers. For me it ended up beating out the likes of Vanilla Rye and BVDL! Would love to re-visit this one soon, pick it up while you can.

Re-review, a few months removed from the first time I had it and somehow ranked it higher than VBDL and VR. Maybe my palate was off and running with the vanilla already from the other bottles that night but this is not in the same league as the big boys. It's still enjoyable but very boozy, medium body, not creamy and soft as originally described.. Vanilla is muted by the harsh abv. Damn. Not close to what I remember.

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Photo of Jeffo
4.08/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber brought by FX to the Moeder Lambic tasting last week. Cheers gents!

From a bomber into a snifter
Vintage: 2013
Bottle 207
White wax and signed by the brewers

APPEARANCE: Pours out a transparent black, a touch thicker and blacker than I remember all the other years, yielding a small, medium looking, dark tan head with decent retention. Head fades relatively quickly to a faint wisp and ring. Black body with no carbonation evident. A splotchy wisp and ring remain until the end leaving some nice lacing down the glass. Pretty good, and better than other years.

SMELL: Heavier vanilla on the nose, with white chocolate and vanilla whey protein. Reminds me of what I used to mix up after a workout in high school. Luckily I used to love that stuff. A bit of roasted malt finds its way through, but this is mostly two dimensional vanilla and white chocolate. Luckily it's not overpowering and doesn't come across as artificial. Actually pretty solid.

TASTE: Vanilla for sure, with some white chocolate up front. A good amount of bitterness with some vanilla and coconut at the swallow. Big and lingering finish of bourbon, some oak, lots of vanilla from the barrels and the adjuncts, white chocolate, some bitter coffee from the base beer, as well as some alcohol under it all. Pretty good really, and while the vanilla is definitely in the forefront, it doesn't come off as overpowering or artificial.

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. Solid feel for the style.

OVERALL: When I heard 50/50 did a vanilla variant, I couldn't help myself but think of how nasty Bourbon Vanilla Dark Lord is. I figured this Eclipse variant wouldn't be any better. Man I'm happy I was way off base there. This is actually really good, and the vanilla works well without being obnoxious or off-putting. Certainly sweet with lots of vanilla and white chocolate, but it doesn't taste artificial or cloying. Very good variant and something I would gladly drink again. Thanks for bringing it along FX!

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Photo of stakem
4.11/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 release poured into a matching eclipse snifter. The brew appears black in color with a finger of mocha head that rises and fades slowly leaving a wall of lace coating the glass. It smells sweet like vanilla beans then a bit of citrus hops and minerals are noted. The roasted grain imparts a hint of chocolate aspect.

It tastes earthy and quite roasted with vanilla bean sweetness evident before warming alcohol. There is some citrus hops and mineral bite evident across the finish with a bitterness that contrasts the sweetness of the vanilla.

This is medium in body with modest carbonation. Overall a pretty nice offering with the vanilla really evident and it almost feels like it helps boost the body a little. Ive drank more than a fair share of eclipse varieities through the years and ive found that for my taste, im not a big fan when they are fresh but prefer to cellar them for awhile. I enjoy this beer most when the hop bite fades and all thats left is the barrel nuance and lingering maltiness. If you removed the mineral component from this particular offering, it would be near flawless.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
4.2/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Dark brown color with tan head. Aroma has some chocolate dessert notes and some propolis. Taste is sweet at first with some dessert notes but couldn't really say it's vanilla. Finish has some bitter baker's chocolate notes. Body is quite light for the style but it's really smooth. Overall it's a nice stout but not one of the best in the Eclipse series.

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Photo of ccg
4.23/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2015 White Wax Eclipse poured into a large Bruery snifter. Initial pour looks slightly thin and produces only about half a finger of head, but the head looks creamy, produces some nice lacing, and leaves a nice-looking layer of thin bubbles.
The smell is sweet and rich with oak, bourbon, and vanilla. It's not the strongest vanilla BBA stout smell I've experienced, but I'm now regretting opening it at standard refrigerator temperature instead of letting it warm up to 55 degrees or so, when the smell probably would have been stronger.
Taste is creamy, sweet vanilla with a sturdy backbone of slightly bitter, roasty stout. It's a nice balance, but hardly the vanilla bomb I've heard this beer described as. Finish is smooth. If I had any complaint, it would be that I wish more of the bourbon barrel character came through, although it becomes a bit more noticeable as it warms up.
It has a smooth, creamy mouthfeel, but it does fall a bit short of the chewiness you'd find in BCBS or bourbon-barrel-aged Biscotti Break.
Overall: I'm surprised and very glad to have found this on a shelf, in Alabama of all places, and for $25.99, which is the lowest price I've ever seen for an Eclipse! It's an excellent vanilla BBA stout, quite enjoyable and well balanced, even if it's not on the same level as Vanilla Rye. It's not the most complex, but it's also not one-dimensional, cloying, or overpowering. This beer reminded me very much of Avery's Vanilla Bean Stout.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.24/5  rDev -1.6%

Thanks to Rado for sharing this one at Wowcoolman's tasting.

2013 vintage. Bottle # 124.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, vanilla bean, and vanilla frosting aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa and vanilla bean flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roast bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with nice vanilla forward qualities all around.

Serving type: bottle.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bitter and sweet, the cream filled flavor of Vanilla Bean Imperial Eclipse Stout comes with severe roasty brunt but with the soothing vanilla cream flavor to balance. Its assertive roast and dry sensibility comes together in harmony on the palate.

Pitch black and completely opaque, ominous looking beer swirls with a short mocha froth, looking off espresso in nature. Scents of all things burnt lead with espresso, dark chocolate, black walnut, toast and sweet cream. Its taste is lightly sweet, but robust with the carbonized taste of burnt milk, molasses, brown sugar and marshmallow.

As the stout pangs away at the tastebuds, the flavors trend roastier and roastier. Sweetness fades and the taste of extreme espresso, charred oak, bourbon, campfire and burnt toast continues its intense dominance while the stout continues to dry. Caramel, cream, and bitter baker's chocolate apply a soothing and then bitter medley on the back end of taste.

Full, roasty and deviantly dark, the finish is filled with char and heavy whipping cream. The vanilla is no match for the burnt malt, its smoky cocoa counterpart or its tannic oak aridness. Though it takes an edge off the the severe roast, its balance only takes it so far en route to a taste of over wrought coffee deep in aftertaste.

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Photo of larryarms847
4.26/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a simple dark brown and sits near black in the glass with a thin crown of light brown foam.

Tons of chocolate and fudge notes, a hint of sweet vanilla, oak, roasty, and bourbon.

Chocolate and fudge comes out tremendously. Tons of fudge followed by roasty notes and warming bourbon.

Full-bodied, low carbonation, slick, sweet, a tad thin for my taste.

Overall, this was quite delicious and easy drinking, I just wish the price wasn't $30/pop.

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Photo of metter98
4.26/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a short, dense tan head that died down, leaving traces of wispy lacing on the surface and a narrow collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of vanilla beans are present in the nose along with notes of chocolate fudge. The smell becomes a little stronger as the beer warms up.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and has flavors of vanilla beans along with strong notes of bittersweet chocolate, the latter of which also imparts a light amount of bitterness.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. There is a little dryness and alcohol warmth towards the finish.
O: Although the vanilla really stands out in this beer, I liked how it doesn't overpower the other flavors in this stout and there is a good mix with the underlying chocolatey flavors (making it almost seem like vanilla cake with chocolate frosting). This makes for a really nice dessert beer. The beer does a very good job of masking any traces of alcohol from the taste.

Note: 2016 Batch 2

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
4.28/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: pours thick and black. No head
S: some bourbon spice, solid vanilla. Not a huge or bold aroma, but real nice.
T: very solid vanilla, nice bourbon, but a bite of spice that I'm not a fan of.
F: decent thickness, and smooth

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Photo of DaverCS
4.28/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours pitch black with a 1.5 finger head that is caramel colored. Great lacing with ample alcohol legs. Bottled 2016.

Aroma reminds me of vanilla scented potpourri. A bit artificial smelling in regards to the vanilla. Some strong, almost burnt coffee notes, marshmallow, and bitter/unsweetened cocoa. However, really phenomenal smelling beer!

Taste, to be honest, is a substantial letdown. For 30$, I would take many others before this one. I must also state that this beer is best consumed out of the fridge, do not over-chill this beer. The beers feel is on the thinner side. The beer starts with a strong roasted bitterness, dark chocolate, and burnt espresso. The middle of the moth gets some charred oak notes, with maybe just a kiss of vanilla. I’m surprised on how much this beer is lacking vanilla on the palate compared to the nose. The finish is a bit conflicted, it starts off slightly sweet, but quickly transitions into an alcohol burn and hop-like bitterness.

Overall, I probably won’t spring for another bottle from eclipse after this showing. I would happily try it at an event, but the cost is nowhere near the final product. My biggest complaint is that the beer is just too thin. It isn’t sweet enough to handle the vanilla flavor, and there just isn’t enough actual vanilla taste overall. I see this pairing well with a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream. It gets an 85.5/100.

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Photo of kevanb
4.28/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

650ml bottle, 2015 vintage, white/ivory wax, poured into a Goose Island Rare Day snifter. Enjoyed on 12.27.2015, reviewed from Tasting Journal.

The beer pours a deep, jet black color, thick and viscous with a khaki head, barely hits a finger that has moderate retention but nice lace. The aroma is great, marshmallow, vanilla bean, rich chocolate, dark, malted barley with some stone fruit and a touch of graham cracker malt that really brings out a nice s'mores quality. The flavors mirror the nose, loads of dark chocolate, graham cracker, stone fruit, and the vanilla sneaks it's way up, giving way to a nice marshmallow character that again, evokes s'mores. While many vanilla beers venture into a territory best described as sugary, cloying and beyond sweet, this has such a nice balance, the barrel character is there, but not overpowering and there is hardly any bourbon character, perhaps just the faintest oak as well, playing into the graham cracker flavor, and the vanilla is so mild, but a true vanilla flavor. I was impressed with how subtle the vanilla was, but at the same time, impactful and defining of this beer. The mouthfeel is nice, coating, thicker than most Eclipse beers, lower carbonation with a full body and a warm finish.

Verdict: A really nice vanilla stout from FiftyFifty and a great addition to the Eclipse series. This beer showcases Vanilla is one of the best ways possible, restraint. While managing to blend the vanilla with all the other flavors, it really highlights how far this adjunct can take the beer. This is not an all out vanilla bomb, it's not cloying, not one dimensional or a gimmick beer. This is a well balanced, artfully crafted beer, that really speaks to my palate, which is a sweet averse palate.

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Photo of PsilohsaiBiN
4.29/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Look: Pours dark with a finger of mocha head.

Smell: Like a bag of marshmallows with cocoa.

Taste: Vanilla is present but not overpowering. There is some honey, roast and bittersweet baker's chocolate. I'd say the aroma has a lot more Vanilla than the taste.

Feel: Surprisingly light and almost watery for the style. For the $30 pricetag and wax, you'd figure that this beer would at least have a fuller mouthfeel than say KBS, but it doesn't.

Overall: A bit thin for the style and I wish it had more vanilla sweetness. Not bad but there are way tastier stouts, especially for the $.

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Photo of Furlinator
4.29/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 vintage.

Pours near black with a one inch khaki head that fades to wisps on top and leaves strings of lace. The smell is of vanilla, chocolate and bourbon. Less bourbon in the taste. Nice balance between chocolate and vanilla. Very good.

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Photo of Stevedore
4.3/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

650ml ivory wax bottle from 2015. Served in a stemless glass.

Pours a dark cola brown body, half finger offwhite head, fair amount of collar and retention, no lacing. Standard BA imperial stout here. Smells of vanilla bean, milk chocolate, bourbon, oak, cocoa. The vanilla is perfectly balanced; it's there in spades but does not overwhelm the base stout which contributes a chocolate brownie presence. Flavour is similarly vanilla-forward but not so much that you don't get the cocoa, milk chocolate, hint of molasses, oak, bourbon. Balanced. Mild raw vanilla bean bitterness with cocoa helps counterbalance the milk chocolate sweetness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, on the lower end of the spectrum for a big barrel-aged imperial stout, but more than sufficient enough. It'll never be SR-71, but most beers don't achieve that level of thickness. That being said, I would avoid drinking say, BCBS in the same drinking session. It's one of these things where it'll be glaringly obvious when there's a thicker comparison BA stout, but less noticeable on its own. Overall, a very balanced vanilla BA imperial stout with more than enough vanilla to satisfy your sweet tooth without getting to the point of cloying or diabeetus.

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Photo of Dope
4.31/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 batch 1.

A: Pitch-black pour with a mid-sized very dark brown head. Great head retention as it sticks around forever. Thick tendrils of lacing.

S: Yup, definitely the vanilla version. Tons of sweet vanilla, almost like marshmallow fluff up front. Chocolate behind it and a caramel booziness to boot. But that vanilla dominates for sure.

T: Again, strong vanilla but not quite as domineering now. Heavy initially, still. Lots of caramel with it. Big chocolate notes and hints of char into the middle and finish. Vanilla comes back to help balance out the bittersweet chocolate and char in the finish. Lightly charry and bittersweet cocoa in the aftertaste.

M: Heavy, sweet and thick.

O: Another nice variant from 50/50. Honestly not even sure if this one is barrel aged, it has a lot less barrel character than the other versions. And the vanilla is so strong it's actually kinda hard to tell. Nice unique version at least, on the syrupy sweet side but not too bad.

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Photo of Treyliff
4.32/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle poured into a snifter, most recent batch

A- pours deep black in color with a small foamy white head that disappears completely, leaving nothing behind

S- mocha fudge and vanilla bean aroma up front with heavy toasted marshmallow notes. Undertones of bourbon barrel, giving notes of oak & coconut. Basically smells like a marshmallow brownie.

T- chocolate and dark fruit up front followed by light bourbon barrel notes, giving off some toffee flavor. Mid-palate brings strong toasted marshmallow that follows the nose, along with heavy whipping cream. The finish is more vanilla and brown marshmallow with a light linger of bourbon barrel

M- medium-heavy body with moderate carbonation leads to a slightly foamy mouthfeel and finish

O- the vanilla addition gives that marshmallow flavor throughout, it compliments the barrel treatment to provide a nice balance

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Photo of Damian
4.41/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Drank from a 1 pint, 6 fl oz white wax dipped bottle purchased at Craft Beer Cellar, Belmont, MA
BOTTLE RUN No.: 8/1 2015
Served in a snifter

The beer poured a very dark brown, bordering on black. A bit thinner than anticipated. A frothy, foamy, one finger tall, cappuccino colored crown capped the liquid. The head dropped to a thick, bubbly, lasting collar. Spotty drops of lacing trickled down the glass.

Vanilla dominated in the aroma. This was in fact a total vanilla bomb. Super potent and quite sweet. Good dose of brown sugar. Sweet cream was also noticeable. Bit of milk chocolate. As the beer warmed, both the vanilla and the chocolate intensified. Chocolate syrup came to mind. I thought I picked up some bourbon, but it was tough to decipher this from the vanilla. All in all, really fragrant and enticing.

Vanilla also came through strong in the flavor profile but not as much as in the nose. Loads of deep roasted malts. Some bakers chocolate and espresso. Chocolate fudge was also noticeable. Good dose of brown sugar. Hint of barrel on the back end. Perhaps some bourbon. Again, it was difficult to distinguish the bourbon amongst the intense vanilla notes. Roasted malts appeared in the finish and lingered after the swallow.

The mouthfeel was medium-light for the style. Definitely thinner than anticipated. The liquid contained a moderate, larger bubbled effervescence. Creamy, frothy and fluffy on the palate. The sugars in the beer left a sticky film on my lips.

I really enjoyed all of FiftyFifty's Imperial Eclipse Stout variants I have tried to date, and Vanilla Bean is definitely one of the more interesting overall. Aside from its lighter body and steep ($30) price point, this was a terrific beer that could be a perfect dessert on its own. Fans of vanilla stouts should definitely seek this out.

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Imperial Eclipse Stout - Vanilla Bean from FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
4.31 out of 5 based on 193 ratings.
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