Huge Arker | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

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Huge ArkerHuge Arker

Brewed by:
Anderson Valley Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Bourbon Barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout.

Added by chinchill on 01-29-2014

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Reviews: 71 | Ratings: 329
Photo of BB1313
4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Heinen's in Mayfield Village, Ohio

Pours black with a small light tan head that leaves nice retention and lacing. The aromas have lots of cocoa malts and milk chocolate. Subtle hints of vanilla. The bourbon aromas are subtle but definitely noticeable. The flavors are very bold and rich. Lots of sweet bourbon up front. Lots of chocolate. Malts do their thing. Mild bitterness. More sweet than bitter, but nothing cloying or over the top at all. Mild warmth in the finish, but it's not hot or boozy at all. Alcohol notes are there, but well hidden. Mouthfeel is nice. It's full-bodied with moderate carbonation. It's not too thick, but is very fluffy and smooth. Dangerously drinkable.

This is a great barrel aged stout. It's very bold, but balanced. The Wild Turkey shines and really gives this one some character. The craftsmanship is very impressive. Well done.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

An eye opener for certain! This beastly brew pours a deep obsidian black
with a nice head of light tan foam that subsides to a thick ring, thin layer,
and features some very nice lacing in the snifter via a growler from Jungle Jim's
in Eastgate. Nose of oak, vanilla, heavy bourbon, cherries, and sweet molasses.
Flavors exceed the nose with heavy Turkey, boozed cherries on the sides with brown
sugars, and fading into a warming oak and subtle char not on the rear with rich malts.
Pretty nice mouth feel, smooth, VERY warming, rich, full, and finishing with a cherry---
almost brandy finish. Very substantial and almost excessive.

Drink with caution...SWEET MOTHER---I HAVE A 1/2 GALLON OF THIS!
WOW! What a brew.

Of note---the balance of this brew is a touch too heavy on the booze and
could use some subtle balance with the tastes that are in the RIS instead of
heavy boozy bourbon, barrel, and oddly enough cherry---that said it is
still fantastic!


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Photo of EvoRich
4.84/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look: Pitch black with a fluffy light tan colored head.

Smell: Sweet cherries and bourbon. Cherry pie with alcohol.

Taste: Creamy, cherries again, and bourbon.

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Photo of CHickman
4.24/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours pitch black color with a thick 1-2 finger foamy tan colored head that was full of tiny bubbles which popped as the head dissipated slowly, leaving really nice foamy lacing and rings as it went down.

Smells of sweet malt, bourbon and oaky barrels up front, followed by syrup, molasses, booze, coffee grinds, brown sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla. Bready malt and earthy tones like peat moss check in but then get pulled into the bourbon, which is sweet and dominating but not harsh or too boozy. I almost detect piney hops as it warms more.

Flavor has a lot more chocolate in it as there seems to be dark chocolate, burnt marshmallows, chocolate syrup, dark fruit like cherries starting to rot, bakers chocolate and mild black licorice, before a shot of Wild Turkey drops on the palate like a boozy napalm, like a boilermaker. All good for me so far as I enjoy the dirty bird, so these additions blend well with the tastes which were in the nose including sweet malt, bourbon, peat moss, oak barrels, maple syrup, coffee grinds, molasses, brown sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla. The booze is always evident but doesn't come off as aggressive as the 13.5% ABV listed on the bottle. It's actually quite refined, naturally getting better as it warms up.

Mouthfeel is very creamy and buttery smooth, almost like a nitro stout or milk stout until the bourbon booze heat kicks in and kicks your gut with the warming boozy intensity that lets you know the Wild Turkey just strutted in. There is no doubt that you will get drunk as you ingest this bottle, so thankfully there is enough flavor to entertain your taste-buds with chocolate, bourbon, woody notes, vanilla, char and coffee grinds that make for a sweet enticing blend. This a manly beer which should be consumed with Timberland boots on and an axe nearby. Gobble, gobble, the dirty bird strikes again.

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Photo of Jeffo
3.27/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this one on Buffalo a year back.

From a bomber into a snifter
Malt beverage aged 6 months in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels

APPEARANCE: Very clear dark brown pour yields a 2+ finger, medium looking, slightly creamy light tan head with very good retention. Transparent bistre brown body with no real carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a full foamy cap and clings to the glass. A half splotchy wisp remains leaving a some traces of lacing down the glass. Well engineered head but the color is simply too weak for the style.

SMELL: Big nose with piles of wood and oak initially. Some toffee notes with milk chocolate and sweet cream under the woody aromas. Mostly oak, bourbon and alcohol run the show here.

TASTE: Lots of wood and bourbon up front. Very boozy too, with straight up bourbon, wood and toffee sweetness. A big, boozy swallow with more wood and bourbon, moving into a bold and lingering aftertaste of wood and oaky flavors, bourbon, alcohol, some sweet cream and milk chocolate. This is definitely alcoholic with lots of wood and spirit.

PALATE: Medium-fuller body and surprisingly creamy on the palate. Medium levels of carbonation, goes down fine with a good burn and finishes slightly sticky. Lots of alcohol and heat linger.

OVERALL: This is big for sure. It definitely drinks like a 14% beer and the booze and wood are certainly main actors in the show. This is very bourbon and oak heavy, with the underlying stout being rather weak in comparison. The overly light color for the style was a bit of a giveaway in that department. That said, the beer is decently engineered with a solid feel, so the overly woody and boozy flavors aren’t all that tough to swallow. Perhaps a less dominant barrel and a stronger stout base would help, but in the end, this is a decent effort and worth checking out if you enjoy big, bourbon barreled beers. Most certainly a better creation than their little Wild Turkey bourbon barrel stout. Recommended.

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Served in a snifter glass from the bottle.

Appearance: Deep black body but is pretty thin, head is tan maybe one finger's length off the body. Sticky lacing on the glass, drops after two or three sips.

Smell: Whiskey and sugar notes, you smell molasses and light hint of coffee.

Taste: Sweet chocolate with heavy whiskey notes. It is malty but extremely subtle if that makes sense. The alcohol is evident, might overthrow some of the other hiding in the background.

Mouth: Sticky, I mean crazy sticky....paired with chips and guacamole....I still feel the beer. Full bodied, medium carbonation at best. Maple syrup sweetness becomes addicting.

Overall: Great brew, been on a imperial stout binge and have been attacking one after the other and this one is a man among boys. Always in a glass, Salud!

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.06/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On-tap 7/16/2016 at Natty Greene’s Tavern in North Attleboro, MA, served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a large dense beige head that fades slowly and leaves a very thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains bourbon, roasted malts, dark fruit, licorice, some chocolate and a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with strong flavors of bourbon, licorice, dark fruit and chocolate. Then a hearty roasted malt character comes in. The hops presence is very mild as expected and there’s very little hint of the 13.50% ABV. The after-taste is sweet.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium-to-heavy body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down dangerously easy, slightly filling, very strong well-disguised kick, very good representation of style, this is a very good big stout to sip on for a long time.

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Photo of zac16125
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into a snifter
no bottling dates

A: Opaque black, huge light tan head, dissipates slowly and leaves tons of lacing. 4.75

S: Not a ton going on in the aroma: roasted malt, some tobacco/leather notes, subtle toasted coconut and charred oak notes from the barrel. Aroma is very nice, but its pretty subtle as a whole. 4

T: Fuller taste than the aroma implied. Heavy roast, heavy charred oak, decent amount of bitterness, fairly significant amount of bourbony booze, subtle toasted coconut. 4.25

M/D: Full bodied but could benefit from being thicker, carbonation a bit heavy for the style, ABV is definitely noticeable but its not hot. Drinkability is pretty good. 3.75

O: Very nice beer, significantly better than any of the other barrel aged Anderson Valley beers I’ve had. Perhaps a bit too boozy (and I actually am usually a fan of boozy beers), but still quite enjoyable. 4

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Photo of TheNerd
2.37/5  rDev -42.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Very perplexed by the (current) overall rating of 91. Looked beautiful. Head is nice and silky. Velvet clinging to the side of my glass. Sadly the flavor was really not there. So much alcohol on the pallet. It tastes like chocolate flavored toothpaste. The beer around the alcohol shows a lot of potential but all you get is a sharp flavor up the middle of your tongue (which also eliminates any opportunity for a good mouthful). Maybe if I cellared it for another few years the alcohol flavor would've mellowed out but it's been three years since bottling already so it could take a long time. At 13.5 abv I got a great happy buzz but I curled my tongue with every sip

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Photo of Ciocanelu
4.65/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Really dark brown color with creamy, mocha head. Aroma is full-on bourbon, caramel, fudge and butterscotch. Taste follows with the fudge and caramel, chocolate cake, bourbon and a roasty bitter finish. Slightly boozy but it's not bothering at all. Full bodied, smooth mouthfeel with just the right amount of carbonation. A really well made bourbon barrel aged imperial stout which I think should get more attention.

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into snifter; no bottle dating, but is a recent release. Pours pitch black color with a 2 finger dense and rocky tan head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Dense soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Fantastic appearance. Aromas of big milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, bourbon, caramel, toffee, molasses, vanilla, coconut, toasted oak, dark bread, raisin, plum, light smoke/char, and roast/oak earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/roast/bready malt and bourbon barrel notes; with great strength. Taste of big milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, bourbon, caramel, toffee, molasses, vanilla, coconut, toasted oak, dark bread, raisin, plum, light smoke/char, and roast/oak earthiness. Moderate roast/char bitterness and bourbon/oak spiciness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, coffee, bourbon, caramel, toffee, molasses, vanilla, coconut, toasted oak, dark bread, dark fruit, smoke, char, and roast/oak earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt and bourbon barrel flavors; with a great roasted bitter/sweet and bourbon/oak spiciness balance; and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-moderate dryness from roast bitter and oak spiciness as well. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full body; with a smooth, moderately creamy/silky, and sticky/chalky balanced mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is fairly well hidden with a light-moderate warmth and light barrel booziness lingering after the finish. Overall this is an outstanding barrel aged Russian imperial stout. All around awesome complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt and bourbon barrel flavors; and very smooth and easy to sip on for the huge ABV, even with the warming barrel notes. Really big on the barrel presence, but not overdone at all. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Type: 22-oz. bottle
Glass: AleSmith Barrel-Aged Reserve snifter glass
From: Kelly’s Liquors in San Jose, Calif.
Price: $14.49
Purchased: April 14, 2016
Consumed: May 14, 2016
Misc.: No BOD on bottle (estimated Nov. 2015)

Picked this up on a work trip to San Jose, Calif., on April 14. Slightly was fearing drinking it there, so now here we are. Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout? Yes. Malt beverage aged 6 months in Wild Turkey, Bourbon barrels? No. I have a hate-hate relationship with Wild Turkey from some high school stuff. Gave their Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout a 3.86 back on July 19, 2014 and hoping this one is better.

Poured a pitch black color with 2-to-3 fingers of frothy, tan head. Nice serene setting on the top. Above average sporadic spotty lacing. Excellent retention. (Sight - 4.25)

Surprisingly not as much Wild Turkey (or booziness) as I would have thought. Also got bourbon, toffee, caramel, chocolate, hints or crayon, cooking chocolate chips, oaky wood and a touch of coconut (wishful?). (Smell - 4.25)

Tasted just as good as the nose to me. Pleasantly surprised. Got warming in the body right away. Specifically got cooking chocolate chips (looking it up - semi-sweet Nestle Toll House morsels), bourbon, wood, mild vanilla, oak, sweet caramel, toffee, coconut (more than the nose), roasty nuts and chocolate. (Taste - 4.25)

Full body. Sticky texture. Average carbonation. Long, smooth finish. (Feel - 4.25)

This was just a really good beer. So much better than I thought it would be. Loved it. (Overall - 4.25)

4.25 | 95 | A

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Photo of bbtkd
3.86/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Anderson Valley Huge Arker Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout, 13.5% ABV, 88 IBU. Pours thick and dark with a huge head that sticks around, decent lacing. Nose is not real strong, fresh, slight alcohol. Taste is roasty, coffee bitterness, alcohol, and I pick up a bit of the wild turkey. Good mouthfeel. Overall, it is a bit too bitter and boozy for me. I would get it again if it were in smaller bottles, but not in a huge boozy bomber that is the equivalent of a normal 6-pack.

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Photo of seedyone
4.48/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. Pitch black/brown in color. Thin head comprised of tiny bubble foam that leaves some sheet lacing. The aroma while chilled is pleasant though vague. Just the right amount of coffee flavor is carried over the toasty malt. No burn whatsoever. I'm learning to appreciate the folks at Anderson Valley more & more.

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Photo of Tonyjenlasc
4.42/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Look - Black as night in the glass. Quickly dissipating head as anticipated.
Smell - Bourbon, alcohol, chocolate, roast, hints of smoke
Taste - Big bourbon/booze punch. Some dark chocolate, cocoa, milk chocolate, roasted malts, oaky
Feel - oily, silky but a tad thin. The 13.5% definitely lets you know its there.

Overall - A massive BA stout. Very enjoyable for me. Love Anderson Valleys barrel program. Underrated in my opinion.

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Photo of jakecattleco
3.96/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasting pour at Davis Beer Shoppe. Pours brownish black with ring of light tan head. Nose has some sweetness to it, not bourbon in your face like some BBA beers. Taste is barrel heavy with subtle sweetness. Mouthfeel on the thinner side, finishes a bit hot. Good, but I won't revisit.

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Photo of q33jeff
4.49/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle to snifter. Bottle from Dave Silb.
Dark Black pour, light tan head. Fades to lacing.
Aroma is whiskey, dark chocolate, toast.
Taste is much of the same. Very tasty.

This is much better than the previous Anderson Valley Stout I'd had.


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Photo of Mikeszab
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Looks black as expected with big head and lacing.
Poured into a snifter from a 22.
Taste is strong bourbon mixed with malts and bitter chocolate.
Not heavy on carbonation or burn with a high abv.
A nice offering with the 6 month aged bourbon barrel but the undertones of the stout were not as good as others. Worth trying.

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Photo of VashonGuy
3.77/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I'm a big fan of bourbon barrel aged impy stouts, but I found this one a bit disappointing. It's got the bourbon, but the overall complexity of the underlying stout itself isn't up to the better beers of this type. And the booze at 13.5% ABV is too strong, especially when the flavor of the stout doesn't match the booze. It's still fun to drink, of course, but there are better BBA stouts out there.

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Photo of TruePerception
3.94/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Anderson Valley's Huge Arker, imperial stout aged for 6 months in Wild Turkey Bourbon barrels. 13.5% ABV.

A: Almost three fingers of chocolate milk brown head. Black in the glass. Dark brown in the dimple, with a toffee brown edge. Slight, yet permanent, sheeting. Spotty, emaciated lacing.

S: Nice Bourbon aroma. Dark toffee, rich semi-sweet chocolate, light char, subtle cooked grain (like barley "oatmeal"). Light oak.

T/MF: Char is much more forward on the tongue; has a slightly sweet edge. More dark toffee, about balanced with the char. Very dark chocolate. Very slight fig and licorice notes.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle, into a Belgian tulip glass.

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Photo of TBonez477
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Hazy dark brown with a finger of fluffy, khaki head.

S: Roasted, sweet malts up front with some fruity, light coffee that hits before the bourbon aromas of vanilla and light marshmallow come in for the finish.

T: Bourbon presence takes over the flavor much more than the aroma. Vanilla, marshmallow and slight caramel all present along with some booziness that begs attention.

M: In general feel is slightly light for the ABV and style, especially when compared to world class. However it is not at all inappropriate or disappointing.

O: For the availability, price and lack of hype around this brew it is pretty sneaky and underrated. Good value and worth a look.

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Photo of Zorro
4.06/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Near black colored beer with a momentary thin brown head.

Smells fruity with lots of grape and berry. Scents of vanilla and caramel. Scent of whiskey and chocolate. Sent of Kahlua liquor.

Starts out sweet and a little bitter. Lots of chocolate and caramel. Fruit flavor and the taste of berries. Taste of coconut. Abundant warming in the chest and no alcohol tasted. Bitterness level is moderate. Bitter chocolate after taste.

Mouthfeel is thick.

Overall a good heavy beer. But it isn't quite Bourbon County Stout level.

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Photo of biegaman
4.31/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge Arker is straightforward black. You wouldn't think such a simple looking beer could pack such deep, profound complexities; one colour equates to a multitudes of flavours. The amount of head the forms from the pour (and sticks around) is surprising and very impressive given the alcohol content.

I love whiskey, but it's not something I want to drink all the time. Of all the styles, however, I find bourbon to be the most "everyday" - sweet vanilla and butterscotch flavours, cinnamon-like spice and orange peel zest can make any 80 proof beverage that much more approachable and agreeable.

Oddly enough, however, bourbon can have the opposite effect when introduced to beer; it often throws velvety, bittersweet mocha flavours entirely out of balance, adding a brash, boozy bite while at it. But not always - Huge Arker is composed like a symphony and has the composure of a monk.

Wild Turkey barrels imparted French vanilla, dark caramel and toasty oak flavours without handcuffing them to any harsh notes of spent tobacco, burnt splinters or alcohol esters. They've extracted the good and excluded the bad. The bourbon is as mellow as The Dude himself and really ties this stout together.

Some bourbon-barrel beers are fire hazards - simply smelling the fumes can put your blood alcohol over the legal limit. With Huge Arker, however, I had to double-check the label - the 13.5% might hit your head but it bypasses the palate. There exists lower strength beers that are far more obnoxious.

Much of the reason behind this lies in its extremely creamy, satiny mouthfeel and the corresponding distraction of flavours: burnt marshmallow, cayenne-infused hot cocoa, black licorice, vanilla pod, and creme caramel custard. I'm not typically one for dessert but this is too good to pass up on.

I'm not impressed by the beer that shouts loudest - I want the one that can sing with soul and melody. Anderson Valley didn't out-muscle their barrel-aged counterparts, they went the way of tact and finesse. Whereas most bourbon ales are army hummers, Huge Arker is a pillowed horse-and-carriage ride.

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Photo of DrSpaceman
4.56/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Cellared for one year, purchased from Anderson Valley. Pours deep brown, not black as I expected. Thin head, dissipates quickly. Smell is very close to the other Anderson Valley bourbon barrel offerings. Taste is pleasantly different however, imperial stout body is definitely thick enough to hold up to the 13.5% ABV. Perfectly balanced, strong molasses and oak up front with slight alcohol heat on finish. Rich and buttery, well worth the wait.

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Photo of MacMalt
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22 oz. bottle into snifter. The color is virtually black with a thin but creamy light tan head and lacing. The smell features malt, molasses, caramel, coffee, and some dark fruit. The bourbon is also prevalent. The taste is bourbon forward with raisin, plum, caramel, malt, and more bourbon, with some sweet vanilla at the finish. It's also quite oaky. It has a nice creamy body. This is one potent stout with a strong alcohol burn. It is most definitely a sipper. Plan on sharing the bomber because there's really too much booze. I'm a fan of big, barrel-aged stouts and this one doesn't disappoint. The flavors are rich and complex. I just wish it were a little smoother. This stout would be better at 10% ABV than the 13.5%.

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Huge Arker from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
4.12 out of 5 based on 329 ratings.
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