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Thunder Canyon Warhead Reserve | Thunder Canyon Brewery

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5 Ratings

Brewed by:
Thunder Canyon Brewery
Arizona, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Warhead Stout aged in Bourbon barrels for six months.

Added by Gueuzedude on 07-15-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5 |  Reviews: 4
Reviews by ArsenicDrone:
Photo of ArsenicDrone
4.9/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is ridiculously good. This is why I'll drink beer instead of just sticking to liquor and port. Only available roughly once a year, after being aged in bourbon barrels. I think this also used to go by the title "The Cask," whereas Thunder Canyon now puts a variety of beers into barrels and gives them that title as they open a barrel.

Appearance: Deep dark color, with a moderate brown head.

Smell: Foreshadows the taste a bit, but not completely. Can tell that this is going to have a liqueur character.

Taste: Amazing. Super smooth. Sweet high-alcohol stout, with a very clear vanilla flavor. The alcohol imparts more of the vaguely fruity flavor characteristic of a good imperial stout, than a burn (although in this case the fruit is not identifiable as such). Some sweet chocolate, and a little bit of licorice here and there. Slight smokiness. The bourbon comes in most clearly at the end. What makes this beer especially good is that those flavors taste authentic, rather than like an imitation achieved through clever use of malts, or like they didn't really survive the maturation process. That smoothness really brings them out.

Mouthfeel: Thick and smooth. Does the job of warning against drinking too fast. I don't seem to heed the warning until I start on a second glass.

Drinkability: This is pretty heady stuff, and not really the best thing to drink fast while wolfing down food. It bears taking slowly, but it's a good beer for that.

Highly recommended to try this if you are in Tucson at the right time. I would choose this over many stouts with an 'A' rating.

Edit 1/6/13: Thunder Canyon went off-track a bit last summer with this beer, brewing a batch which had only a bit of the liqueur-like qualities, resulting in a normal imperial stout. However, the latest batch is back on track, and hopefully they will be making it this way for a long time to come. Still amazing, and still possibly the best beer I've had. It's a lot like Firestone's Parabola, but I like it just a bit more.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Harvey98
4.25/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of Gueuzedude
4.42/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This pours from the sparkler tipped hand pump, directly from the Bourbon Barrels, nets me a finger and a half thick, persistent to the last drop, nicely brown colored head. The beer is a rich black color, but definitely has some brown tones to it. The aroma has a solid, smooth hit of vanillin up front, some light bourbon spice towards the finish and some chocolate notes that get more pronounced as I sit here and contemplate the nose. As the beer warms up I get more notes of spicy oak and warming Bourbon character in the aroma.

The combination of the cask / hand-pump pour and the underlying, base beer character really brings out a rich, creamy, chewy chocolate flavor here that is quite distinct. Paired with the chocolate, and actually influencing its presence as well, is a Bourbon-barrel induced vanilla character that is found at the front of each sip. The beer finishes with a touch of perceived warm alcohol, but is actually the spicy Bourbon character and oak-induced astringency / spiciness coming through more than any real alcohol flavors; this ends up being a nice bite to the finish that balances out the up front chocolate-vanilla notes. There is a rich, deep, dark malt sweetness to this beer that complexly mixes with the chocolate notes. The finish has some dusty, bitter cocoa and roast grain bitterness to it; the latter is a little sharper than the former. There is also some bitterness from the hops apparent in the finish as well. This has a very low carbonation (as is expected from being served via hand-pump directly from the Bourbon barrel). The beer is still rich and viscous though and it easily stands up to the lack of apparent prickly carbonation. As the beer flows across the palate it feels lush, creamy and even a bit viscous.

As the beer warms up the bitter roast and oak spiciness becomes more apparent; the beer is actually more in balance now, though I must admit I probably like this a touch more when it was still in the high 50s (Fahrenheit). The last sip of this glass sees me noticing a slight tartness from the dark / roast grain and the Bourbon influence. A toasted grain character (I am not referring to roast character here) becomes much more apparent as well.

Interestingly enough my second glass of this beer does not seem nearly as interesting as my first (palate fatigue is setting in). More Bourbon and oak astringency seems to be found here, though this is still easily quite decent by any measure. In the aroma I now notice more roast character, coffee like notes and even a light, burnt-acidity. A bite of a just brought out pretzel helps to reset my palate and the balance of this beer. Food also brings out some sweet Bourbon character and perhaps more of the vanillin notes. The chocolate takes a back seat (though it is still noticeable in the nose). In the end I really dig the rich chocolate and vanilla flavors found in this beer and I think that this is just a smidge better than the regular offering.

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Photo of LittleDon
4.63/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served in a 10 oz. pilsner. 10 oz pour. Black with dense tan head. Head sticks to glass and lasts forever. Dark chocolate & licorice aroma with a bit of alcohol. Bourbon, chocolate, alcohol at the start. Heavy body. Dark chocolate and coffee finish. The finish is very liqueur like.

I'm not a RIS drinker, but I'd drink this given any opportunity. Just finished talking to the brewmaster. Aged in bourbon barrels, and you can tell. The aging has definitely taken the edge off the alcohol. (It was apparently sampled at regular intervals and was tapped when the harsher tones from the alcohol were mitigated.) Pours like a nitro tap, but it isn't. It has been run through a hand pub directly from the cask where the depleted liquid volume has been replaced with CO2. If any made its way into the brew, I couldn't tell.

Note: ABV was measured at tapping and is probably higher.

Get it while it lasts. It will be brewed again, but not sure when it will be available.

Note: Originally review on 07-12-2009. Moved from duplicate entry on 07-16-10.

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Photo of bennetj17
3.96/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

10 oz pour. Black, with dense, creamy foam. Good head retention, light lace. The aroma seems a bit weak unfortunately. Faint chocolate notes with touches of alcohol, otherwise I am finding it hard to get a good nose of it. Perhaps it needs a better glass?

The flavor is quite mellow for what I expected, with malty sweet chocolate dominating, and only light roast. The alcohol does not seem that strong, but you do get a touch of whiskey taste in the finish. The finish is lightly bitter too, but not pressing. The overall effect of the barrel aging is apparent in how relaxed the flavors are compared to the original version. The oak character is not heavy, however.

The body is very creamy. It was quite thick, but not chewy enough to affect the drinkability, in fact it goes down easily. Carbonation was very fine, but decent considering it was a cask.

I would drink this beer again, mostly because it is one of the few good choices they offer. It's nice to have a barrel-aged selection available to us locally, but I personally prefer the regular Warhead as it has a more robust flavor.

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Thunder Canyon Warhead Reserve from Thunder Canyon Brewery
Beer rating: 4.43 out of 5 with 5 ratings
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