High Desert Imperial Stout-Bourbon Barrel Aged | Sweetwater Tavern & Brewery

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5 Ratings

Brewed by:
Sweetwater Tavern & Brewery
Virginia, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.20%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Deuane on 02-27-2008

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Ratings: 5 |  Reviews: 4
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Photo of BeerIsland
4.17/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had heard this was available so went over Thursday to try. Dwight said it was in bourbon barrels for two years so there was increased concentration pushing the ABV to around 11%. The port-like character of this beer, both in the aroma and taste, is nuts, but the beer still has nice balance. Very deep and rich, the 5 oz pours are served in a snifter at $5 per. It's a very intense, unique beer.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on tap at the Falls Church Sweet Water Tavern location. Served in a regular pint glass. WTFO! Oh well, that's Sweet Water for ya'!

Pours an impenetrable pitch black with a thin yet creamy burnt tan head. It peters down into a creamy ring of retention around the edge with just the thinnest wispy layer across the surface that leaves just thick swathes of lace down the sides of the glass. The aroma is dominated by the bourbon notes in the nose but deep notes of chocolate, roasted malts, and dark fruit tang still make their way through.

The Bourbon character shines with the wood and vanilla notes wrapping its arms around you right from the start and doesn't let up, being most pronounced in the finish. Wrapped up in all that Bourbon goodness is the RIS that we know and love. Deep notes of dark roasted malt, thick chocolate sweetness, roasted coffee notes, and dark fruit tartness. There is a fair amount of roasted and hop bitterness that lasts well into the finish and is nicely complimented by the sweetness of the Bourbon vanilla notes. All of this complexity still shines through despite all the time spent in the barrels. The mouthfeel is thick, creamy, chewy, and is everything you want in the body of a good RIS. And I just say that year in the barrel has really done this well and has tempered a lot of the big heat that was prevalent in last years batch.

Wow, this is a really nicely done Bourbon-Aged RIS, that while possessing powerful and complex character, is still immensely smooth and drinkable. The Bourbon never seems to dominate the other characteristics but instead compliments them. I'm really glad that this is released only 2 hours from where we live, as barrel-aged Stouts in this area are few and far between.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.67/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Merrifield Sweetwater location in March 2010.

A: Pours a very dark black with a thin dark tan head. A bit of lacing as it makes its way down, mostly around the edges of the liquid.

S: Loads of bourbon alongside chocolate, oak, bits of coffee, and a bit of roastiness.

T: Same as with the smell, and the bourbon is really nice alongside the mostly chocolate character of the brew. A bit of oak and alcohol make their way in.

M: Mouthfeel is quite viscous with low carbonation and only a slight bit of alcohol heat.

D: Outstanding flavor and a beautiful mouthfeel. I really, really wished that they would have filled growlers of this, or that I wouldn't have been driving and could have had this all night.

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Photo of nmann08
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%

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

Chalkboard at the Merrifield location states that this was aged in a bourbon barrel for over one year.

A-Black with a thin film of dark tan head. Leaves thin lacing.

S-Smokey with vanilla notes. A bit of alcohol burn and rich burnt malt notes. As it warms a noticable scent of anise comes through.

T-Big notes of dark roasted malts meld wonderful with BIG notes of bourbon...this one is a bourbons lovers dream.

M-Big, rich and round. Plenty full of flavour and richness.

D-Very nicely done BBA RIS. Very strong bourbon flavours...but all in a good way. A very well done brew by a place that overall doesnt make things nearly this good or big!

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High Desert Imperial Stout-Bourbon Barrel Aged from Sweetwater Tavern & Brewery
Beer rating: 4.5 out of 5 with 5 ratings