Imperial Eclipse Stout - Pappy Van Winkle (23 Year) | FiftyFifty Brewing Co.

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Imperial Eclipse Stout - Pappy Van Winkle (23 Year)Imperial Eclipse Stout - Pappy Van Winkle (23 Year)

Brewed by:
FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
2008. A few (aged) cases were released in 2010.

Added by Floydster on 02-02-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 60 | Ratings: 125
Photo of AleWatcher
2.93/5  rDev -34.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Shared by seeswo-- thanks a lot.
Here's what chris says about his bottle when I told him that my review was flagged and deleted;
it was unquestionably a Pappy Eclipse. Bottle 83? if I recall, year 2008, unwaxed. I actually asked Todd Ashman about it via bm a while ago to confirm its authenticity.

So-- anyone with an issue regarding this review, BM me. If you're just angry I didn't give your precious whale an A+, get over it. I didn't think this was very good-- people disagree.

Looks thin. Aaaaand, it's pretty thin.

Lots of reddish hues come through on this one. Weak head, weak retention, and only the the spottiest chunks of lace.
Smells: cholately, touch of smoke, some oak and just a little hint of bourbon.
The taste is a bit bland-- the nose was too, but neither were offensive at all, just not impressive. The flavor hits the same notes as the nose, but adds a pretty boozy bite on the finish that is too hot and not quite pleasant.
Very thin feel, little oily.

Overall-- wow is this mediocre. Forget the hype, buy something else!

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Photo of Jeffo
3.32/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My mate Doops and I were lucky enough to be able to try the entire 2010 - 2008 series. This is apparently the grand daddy of the set, and the oldest vintage around besides the '07 Fitzgerald, so we opened this one last. A big thanks to everyone who made putting this set together possible, and cheers again to Doops for hunting this one down. Stoked to get a chance to try this one while it's still around.

Form a bomber into a snifter
Vintage: 2008
Bottle: 63
Wax: Pink
Third bottling, signed by the brewer.

APPEARANCE: Probably the best looking one of the series, which isn’t actually saying much. A dark brown pour, thicker than the others, yields a small, medium looking, tan head that quickly fades to a ring and slight wisp. Black body with no carbonation evident. A ring remains until the end but leaves no lacing down the glass. This is the thickest of the bunch, but the head and lacing don’t have enough jive to get it over that ever menacing average barrier.

SMELL: Medium strength nose of barrel and base beer. Oak, vanilla and bourbon alongside notes of roasted malts and dark, pure, baker’s chocolate. This is actually relatively well integrated, with the barrel and base complimenting each other, it’s just not quite bold enough to really stand out. If this had the balls that the EC ’09 has, it would probably be quite impressive.

TASTE: Like the nose, the flavors are relatively mild on this one. Initially lacks a bit up front, but later on, some oak and caramel sweetness start showing up. A touch of licorice makes an appearance later on, but unfortunately so does some notes of cabbage. Not always the best sign. This soon moves into a nice dose of bourbon barrel, vanilla and milk chocolate at the swallow, which is nice enough. Milder yet lingering aftertaste of bourbon, toffee and caramel sweetness, and some dark chocolate and roasted notes. That cabbage that was around up front has reappeared in the aftertaste as well. This one is relatively complex and interesting, perhaps more so than the others, but it is definitely milder than the other bourbon variants, and the cabbage flavors mean it’s not always interesting in a good way.

PALATE: Medium body and medium carbonation. Creamy smooth on the palate, goes down smooth and finishes slightly dry. Good feel and enough weight, but not quite as big as the JD variant.

OVERALL: While I was never lucky enough to have this beer fresh, I can seriously imagine that it’s seen better days. The aromas and flavors are relatively mild and have probably mellowed out over time, and a light hint of cabbage is definitely detectable, which is never a positive development. Luckily it was still quite complex and interesting, and I can imagine that it would have been much more enjoyable when it was younger, more assertive, and probably in better shape overall. This is all speculation of course, but if this is the PvW Eclipse at its best, then it is a far cry from good, let alone world-class. Quite simply, at this point, this one is not worth the asking price, and is not worth tracking down if you’re looking for a quality beer. I would suggest that if you have a bottle, do something with it, as I doubt it’s going to get any better. Thanks again for sharing Doops. One of the best beer nights of all time!

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Photo of MrChopin
3.42/5  rDev -24%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Disappointment at 2 years, moderate oxidation leaving light vanilla, chocolate, and oak. Almost no pappy bourbon character and very little roasted malt bitterness. The "smoothness" descriptor I see used with this one, for me, was simply a "lacking" when compared to other imperial stouts that I tries this against. Came in #2 of the five 50-50 stouts we did (EC, EW, 4R, CBros), but considerably behind the Elijah Craig and way behind other notable stouts like Rare BCS, 7000, and Barfly.

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Photo of Crosling
3.7/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Draught, Boulder Strong Ale Festival. Black color. Dark tan head. Nose shows mostly barrel elements of vanilla, toast & smores. This ale, while good, had a thin mouth feel and didn't seem to have a lot of malt left. This ale didn't stand out for me.

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

650 ml bottle generously shared by cpferris. Big thanks to Chad. Pours a dark brown with a small tan head that settles to a ring and leaves some light lacing on the glass. The aroma is roasty with coffee, a bit of alcohol, some vanilla, light coconut, and light chocolate. The taste has some sweetness with vanilla, bourbon, coconut, and a decent roastiness. The finish has some oak and a light bitterness. Light body. Low carbonation. This was a good, but not great beer. I'm sure it was once great, but it seems like a lot of the barrel characteristics have faded. I would prefer most of the newer eclipse variations fresh to this.

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Photo of trappistlover
4.12/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Pappy version-courtesy of dionysus at RBWG 2011-Phoenix. Pours dark brown with tan head. Aroma has beautiful bourbon aroma which is understated, if that's possible. Sweet malt and bourbon flavors with a little heat. Full bodied and creamy texture. Finish is all bourbon. This is a good beer, but other concurred that GI Rare was a bit better.

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Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.12/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A HUGE want of mine, so I owe Joe an equally proportioned 'thank you' for crossing it off of the to-do list by providing a 2010 bottle with the pink wax at our recent tasting. This was easily one of the top 3 most anticipated beers of the weekend, and we were anxious to see if it would live up to the expectations. Poured into my Duvel tulip as the 14th brew of the tasting. The 8th on day 2.

The color is obsidian black, and it seems to have that same sheen. There is an espresso foam-colored head that reaches a half finger in height before subsiding considerably. The texture looks a bit thin, and it doesn't really fit with the rest of appearance.

One of the best smelling beers that I can remember ever having. This gives even M a run for its money. Vanilla is immediately apparent. This isn't some hint of vanilla imparted by barrels, this is potent and sweet vanilla that complements the thick dark ganache and prevalent warm bourbon notes that spring out of the bulb of my tulip. Smokey roasted malt adds another dimension as well. Finally, dark fruits make an appearance, highlighted by dates and figs.

The flavor is also very good. The contribution from the 23-year-old barrels is striking. This is a bourbon bomb, but still shows remarkable balance. Oakey and full of rich vanilla, chocolate fudge flavors come through just as they did in the flavor. These are accompanied by caramel and toffee, both of which I did not find in the aroma. Finally, commingled about in the mid-palate are dates, figs, blackstrap molasses, leather, and tobacco, ebbing and flowing in a seemingly random but always well-nuanced pattern. There is a hint of prickly warmth from ethanol in the finish, but it is fleeting and manages to tie off the profile artfully.

The mouthfeel, as others have noted, is the only real weakness of this beer. Thin for the style, and while it does all it can to be big and viscous, the base is just not there enough to really deliver. Aside from that detail, this beer is definitely up there with the best that I have had.

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Photo of JAXSON
4.12/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle with pink wax. Black with a thin ring on the edges. Rich bourbon on the nose, really smooth barrel, not much pronounced malt underneath, some caramel apple. Takes the barrel nicely, and it's a great barrel of course, but there's not much malt complexity or body going on. Especially right after Rare, which was way more substantial than this. In the mouth, rich dark chocolate brownie, dark chocolate cake, barrel. Some leafy oxidation. Great flavors, almost on par with Elijah Criag, but really suffers from being overly "smooth" and without much malt character.

"Here comes Kevin's next rant."

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Photo of illidurit
4.2/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy bulletrain76. Pours inky black with a dark brown frothy head. Aroma is bourbony but not too hot. Rich chocolate, molasses, vanilla, raisins. Complex but a little muted. Flavor is really smooth and everything is in nice proportion to everything else. Oaky, coconutty bourbon without the typical ethanol shot, dark chocolate, roasted malts, dark fruit. Rich but a bit slick in mouthfeel. Very drinkable.

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Photo of cpetrone84
4.3/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had many of the eclipse series together. This is the 08 vintage. Pour is viscous black with a dark tan thin bubbly head. The nose is of wood and bourbon, rich chocolate cake, light roasted malt, hints of lsighlty burnt caramel. It is more subtle and less intense than the rare and the best of the eclipse stouts. The flavor is a little sweeter than the nose and the rare, bourbon and wood up front, subtle chocolate cake, light toffee, sweet short finish. Full body, thinner than rare, low carbonation and smooth finish. Less rich than rare but more subtle and still very good. Best of the eclipse series.

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Photo of FosterJM
4.32/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1068th Review on BA
Bottle to Snifter
22 oz

Seeing as I got it wrong and Rich emailed me:
3rd and final bottling though from 2008 kegs.
that's why todd wrote over the bottle # "PVW FINAL". :)

Thanks to JohnDoe8 for sharing
Shared at MrHirschybars tasting

App- Was a nice dark brown bordering on black. It had a small head and was very dense and lush in the glass. Had lost some carbonation you could tell.

Smell- It smells nice It had a fair share of bourbon, vanilla, creme, a touch of barrel and a lot of malts behind it.

Taste- Pretty upfront on the taste. Well I can say I really like the PVW treatment but this one didn’t blow me over. I felt Rare and BASC where a touch better than this one. Still undeniably an outstanding barrel aged stout. It was very rich, smooth, creamy and lush. Add in small doses of vanilla in some pockets and its quite good.

Mouth- Medium bodied to almost full bodied. Medium amounts of carbonation. Leaves residual booze notes with some oak and chocolate and maybe a touch of vanilla.

Drink- Never thought I would see a bottle of this. I just couldn’t believe after Saturday how another tasting could get better. Thank you again Richard. One of the 1st trades on BA and you busted out two huge wants of mine.

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Photo of stakem
4.33/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 unwaxed bomber poured into a matching Eclipse snifter. The brew appears black in color and still looking with no head. As it warms up and is swirled, some large brown bubbles collect around the edge of the glass. No real head/lacing effect other than the clear legs of alcohol that droop down the side of the glass.

The smell includes notes of wood and spicy bourbon. Some raw oak and raisin-like fruit character. More sniffs reveal a deeper sence of dark fruit like dates/plum mixed with soft roasted grain and chocolate to vanilla that was extracted from the oak during the aging. It is mildly tangy and spicy with alcohol across the back.

The taste is unmistakeable boozy and slightly spiced pappy bourbon. Mid-palate are flavors of chocolate covered raisons and some earthen oak notes. There is a slight oxidative quality to this that lingers with a musty oak quality that layers the flavors and does not distract like oxidation sometimes can.

This is a medium bodied brew with a very low amount of carbonation. This really is a stellar offering that is a boozy sipper. Having now consumed nearly every Eclipse barrel treatment/blend with the exception of some of the newest ones, I can firmly state this is a standout. I cant wait to try this again side by side with the 20 year when it gets released.

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Photo of Sean9689
4.34/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

*REVIEW #400*

Thanks to nerd for brining this to our post-Christmas tasting. This is the 2nd release (1st release has "Brewmasters Reserve" on bomber and 3rd release is wax-dipped), non wax-dipped, 22oz bomber. Poured into a 3F wine glass.

A - Pours like motor oil, black, no head or much in the way of lacing/retention to speak of, just a dark black hole in my glass. Some bubbles here and there, but that's about it.

S - Sweet milk chocolate, wonderfully integrated bourbon notes, slight oak, burnt sugars, bitter expresso/dark chocolate. It smells so rich and decadent, I am left taking whiff after whiff.

T - I can get over how smooth this beer is. Rich milk chocolate, hints of oak, nice bitter dark chocolate, some dark fruits in there as well. The main player in this is the PVW bourbon, which takes this beer to another level. The bourbon is so well done on this beer, all I can do is keep drinking in awe.

M - Perhaps a touch too thin, no carbonation, sweet creamy finish.

D - As far as barrel-aged stouts go, this is one of the best I've ever had. I'm in love with this beer, it's just so good! I'm so pumped to have been able to try this and I was really surprised that it was as good as everyone has been saying. If you can find this beer, get it, you won't be disappointed!

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Photo of Cedromar
4.37/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Popped this last week up at Ebenezer's with the one and only, Chris Lively.

I got this one last year from swnicholson as a secret santa gift. Thanks!

Poured a nice black with light toffee head. The smell is a gorgeous vanilla and oak with wisps of chocolate. Taste is just like the nose, but perhaps even better. There's a nice chewy-ness to the mouthfeel, but it still goes down smooth. It's a very drinkable beer for a barrel aged stout, having said that, any more than 1 ounces would be a bit difficult to comfortably put down for me.

Overall, a really nice barrel aged stout and probably one of the best. Second only to perhaps CBC's YouEnjoyMyStout.

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Photo of BMan1113VR
4.38/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Pink wax (Pappy Van Winkle). Bottle number 22 with many thanks to Billschmeinke. Pours with a minimal brown head over a deep black body. Aromas of cola, brown sugar, tobacco, earthy, sweet, estery, fudge, coconut, light alcohol caramel and vanilla. Light oak presence. Flavors are nutty, nougat, fudge, vanilla, cola, and coconut. Rich barrel, and aged bourbon flavors. Oily. Smooth and rich. Minimal tannins, medium carbonation. Creamy, lightly warming. The best of the Eclipse variants that I have had.

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Photo of ehammond1
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle (3rd bottling from 2008 kegs)

Thanks for opening this, johndoe8!

Very dark brown, nearly black in color, without a lot of visible carbonation and not much head. Eventually, however, this does leave sticky spots and sheets of lacing down the glass. Quite pretty.

Complex, rich aroma of chocolate, bourbon, wood, vanilla, and, earth. Incredible.

The flavor follows the aroma with lots of chocolate, earth, and barrel character present. There's not as much of the toasted coconut flavor here as I found in the fresh 2011 Elijah Craig variations--the malts as opposed to the barrel, strangely enough, steal the show. That being said, it comes together incredibly well.

Medium mouthfeel with low carbonation.

An incredible treat, and though I've never had it fresh, I have a feeling this was even better maybe a year or more ago.

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Photo of Khazadum
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Some great bsrrel on the nose. Toasted marshmellow, coconut, vanilla, tannic wood. Molasses, chocolate.

Flavors, sweet. Super barrel forward. Sweet molasses, bourbon sweet, heat. Coconut for sure, less marshmellow. Vanilla, wood power. Tannins like tongue depressors. Finishes toasted grain and marshmellow.

Nice thick body, not creamy though. It's missing that syrupy nature. Thanks so much tasting group.

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Photo of bbb099
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to scottfrie for sharing this one!
*reviewed on 12/16/11

A - Almost completely jet black with reddish hue and brown mocha head that creates a decent amount of lacing.

S - Roasted grain relatively prominent accompanied by cocoa and vanilla.

T - Burnt coffee and dark malt flavors. Hints of bourbon and molasses are present, goes well with the strong flavors.

M - Thick and somewhat viscous. What you expect of the beer style.

O - Great combination of aroma, taste and mouthfeel. Definitely one of the most well-balanced stout I have ever had.

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Photo of tpd975
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Another bad ass stout at our weekly tasting. This one courtesy of Gillard. Thanks Ryan for this rare gem.

Bottle #102

A: Pours a very dark flat black, no way light can get through this one. The head is nice, tall, and tan. Awesome retention, it looks as though a lace gernade went off in my glass.

S: Roasted malt from the start. One of the roastier smelling beers I have ever come across. This one also quickly let you know it was barrel aged. Tons of Bourbon, Oak, and vanilla. Hints of chocolate poke through along with a touch of acetone.

T: You guessed it very roasty followed by a bunch of barrel. The wood is rather bold here and it tastes nice and fresh. VCoffee, vanilla and chocolate play nicely with the other bold flavors. This beer is very bold, very extreme. The flavors meld together in such a wonderful way.

M: Rather full body. Rich, smooth, extreme with a touch of burn in the finish.

D: Could sip on this one for hours. I had never heard of the beer or the brewer, but now that I know they exist I want MORE!

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Photo of Floydster
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip glass at Toronado in San Frnacisco on 1/25/09 during their Stout Festival for a whole three dollars during happy hour, reviewed from notes, this is a bourbon barrel imperial stout and one of the better ones I have had in quite some time, color is pitch black and looks wonderful, nice creamy tan head that leaves a ton of lacing and lasts for upwards of ten minutes, aroma was full of whiskey, sweetness, milk chocolate, vanilla, wood, roasted malts, and cake batter, flavor was great too with an introductory roasty chocolate taste, some more malt mixed with vanilla in the middle, light bourbon notes in the finish with a oaky aftertaste and slight alcohol warmth, mouthfeel is sweet, roasted, boozy, and dry at times, thick full body, soft carbonation that is almost perfect, could drink a good amount of this stuff considering its strength, nice and smooth with just a hint of booze in the flavor, I would have drank a lot more of it if I could, awesome beer that I hope to revisit someday, highly recommended

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Photo of rye726
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours near black with a silky tan head. The nose has bourbon, oak, chocolate, roasty malts, subtle hops and dark fruits. Taste has sweet malts, bitter chocolate, coffee, molasses, vanilla, whiskey and wood. I think another six months in the barrels would only help. Body seemed a bit under weight, but still drank well.

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Photo of scottfrie
4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Second bottling. A thousand thanks for opening this, Jeff.

A: Pours black with a thin collar of a head that left a few spots of lacing down the glass.
S: That characteristic buttery Pappy barrel smell fills my nose with creamy scents of bourbon and dark malts. I get hints of vanilla and nuts.
T: Very creamy, smooth and buttery rich flavors of mellow and integrated bourbon, caramel, vanilla, sweet chocolate and molasses. The alcohol is very smooth and integrated at this point.
M: Full body, buttery smooth mouthfeel with creamy carbonation. I could drink this all day.
O: Probably the best in the series. Nothing beats a Pappy barrel. Thanks again, Jeff.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by nerd. Thanks Michael!

Served in my Darkness tulip before Paul, in his infinite sense of entitlement, broke the goddamn thing. The beer is near black, with a thin, tan head that hangs out briefly before leaving a few random spots of lacing behind. The aroma is very inviting, with bourbon and roast at the forefront. The beer tastes wonderful, is well balanced, and full of flavor. The feel is exceptional, and is silky smooth on the palate, though not as big or full bodied as I might have expected. Terrific feel nonetheless. The PVW barrels shine through brilliantly. This is so easy to drink. Overall, a terrific barrel-aged stout, and one I would really enjoy having again...and again.

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Photo of Jmoore50
4.49/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I have now had all four versions of the barrel aged Eclipse. This one is excellent but I think I liked the Elijah Craig and Heaven Hills versions just a bit more. I like FRESH barrel flavor, there is also no doubtingly a variation between bottles because this is unblended and a bottle of Heaven Hill Eclipse I had was perfect. Out of all the bottles I have consumed of the HH and EJ, there were a few that were very impressive.

The beer is a very dark black that does not produce any head, but there are some bubbles hanging around. Its a pretty thick beer, but it has been thinned due to barrel and aging.

The Pappy van Winkle version of this beer smells amazing. It is incredibly complex and the barrel just pushes so many characters through. Milk chocolate, caramel, vanilla, toffee, and bourbon. At the end, once you taste a hint of licorice, you can smell it as well.

A great taste that is balanced perfectly well between sweetness and bourbon. I might be a little partial to this beer because I love bourbons that are sweeter. Van Winkle and Pappy van Winkle are some of my favorites, so a beer that is aged in these barrels is awesome. Chocolate and licorice, vanilla and toffee, this is a great tasting beer.

During the Winter I am very thankful that I live so close to FiftyFifty brewing complany. They do some great Imperial Stouts and have perfected barrel aging.


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Photo of cosmicevan
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Notes from a tasting on 8/15. thanks to totoropanda for bringing this one out. i had tried a small taste at a captain lawrence release a while back, nice to get a reasonable pour and some time to ponder the beer a bit.

a - slick and shiny. silk in a glass. no head at all. looks how a BA stout should that barrel aged glisten.

s - chocolate. barrel. mellow, well integrated booze (kind of surprising since i tend to find that pappy aged brews are a bit in your face, which i do like)...but the pappy booziness definitely tickles your nose in a mentholated way.

t - mmmm...perfection. great chocolate and booze integration. pappy big time. lots of in your face bourbon, but well integrated and compliments the beer instead of stealing the show.

m - definitely a bit hot still, but pappy brews in my opinion are usually very in your face, this one was a bit more mellow, but the heat and booze is still evident. chewy and rich. body is great. super smooth and silky.

o - overall, a REALLY nice bourbon barrel aged stout...just my speed. the pappy has some of the in your face bourbon that i love, but the chocolate notes are super prominent and although hot, this is a well balanced beer. really smooth and really wonderful.

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Imperial Eclipse Stout - Pappy Van Winkle (23 Year) from FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
4.5 out of 5 based on 125 ratings.
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