Imperial Eclipse Compared to Other Barrel Aged Stouts

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by 57md, May 23, 2014.

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  1. 57md

    57md Poo-Bah (2,984) Aug 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Like many here, I love bourbon barrel stouts. I feel very fortunate to have scored BCBS, KBS, Black Note and Uncle Jacob’s in the last 6 months. If I had to compare them, I’d say that BCBS was my favorite, KBS and Black Note were both excellent but a notch below BCBS and Uncle Jacob’s was still very, very good, but a distant fourth to the others.

    That said, I keep seeing bombers of Fifty Fifty Imperial Eclipse at my favorite bottle shop. I assume that they are not moving because of the $30 price tag on them. I am off-put by the high price as well especially when I think that it is a considerably higher price per ounce than the other four excellent stouts I’ve mentioned above.

    Anybody have Imperial Eclipse and at least a few of the others I mentioned? How does it compare to the others? More important, do you think that it is worth the price?
    tylerstravis likes this.
  2. GreesyFizeek

    GreesyFizeek Poo-Bah (8,178) Mar 6, 2013 New York
    Society Trader

    They are quite expensive for sure, but some of them are very worth it. There are many variants of it, do you know which ones are there? They are delineated by the wax color. Some variants are much better than others. I've had the Java Coffee and the Evan Williams versions, and both were quite good. I have heard good things about the various Elijah Craig versions as well. If you have a friend into craft beer, split the bottle with him/her, it'll lessen the impact on your wallet for sure.
    1424IpA likes this.
  3. DCgolfpro

    DCgolfpro Initiate (0) Oct 26, 2011 Maryland

    I've had the 2011 (I believe) Four Roses version and the most recent release Java variant. I found the Four Roses to be extremely underwhelming, but the Java was off the hook.
  4. 57md

    57md Poo-Bah (2,984) Aug 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I like coffee stouts. I'll definitely check to see if the Java is available - problem is that the coffee flavors might have faded by now.
  5. sammyg832

    sammyg832 Initiate (0) Oct 17, 2013 Arizona

    I agree! I've had a couple Four Roses barreled beers and they haven't been impressive. My fave Eclipse so far has been the Rittenhouse Rye
  6. CassinoNorth

    CassinoNorth Disciple (321) Apr 5, 2013 New Jersey

    They're only 5 or so months old. The coffee will be fine.
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  7. sammyg832

    sammyg832 Initiate (0) Oct 17, 2013 Arizona

    If you love coffee stouts you should try the Sante Fe Imperial Java Stout. Comes in 6-pack cans and is really coffee forward. It's the best morning beer ever :grinning:
  8. zac16125

    zac16125 Poo-Bah (2,124) Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
    Society Trader

    The EC 20 is the second highest I have ever rated a beer. It was a 2011 vintage with about 2 years on it. Absolutely fantastic. The only other one Ive had was a 2012 vintage of EC 12 year. It was also excellent, but not nearly as good, and compared to the beers you listed probably only better than Uncle Jacobs (although those other 3 beers you listed are some of my all time favorites).

    Anyways, are they worth the price? Its all a matter of perspective I guess. If you have $30 to spend on a single beer, than sure. But if you are ballin' on a budget then probably not.
    KhakCane and mrn1ceguy like this.
  9. RangnaR

    RangnaR Initiate (0) Dec 17, 2012 California

    Oddly nobody has yet made any direct comparisons between Eclipse and the others you mentioned, OP. When I saw it on the shelf I was definitely put off by the higher price, so I can't speak on it either... But curious to see what anyone might say in those comparisons. I would personally also like to add F-W Parabola to that comparison as I've had that since it was only $14.99...
    kerry4porters likes this.
  10. sammyg832

    sammyg832 Initiate (0) Oct 17, 2013 Arizona

    Uncle Jacobs is insane. Proabably my favorite barrel aged stout
  11. sammyg832

    sammyg832 Initiate (0) Oct 17, 2013 Arizona

    The Eclipses are hit or miss depending on the barrel. Plus they are so much better with age. I wouldn't drink them fresh. They need time to mellow out and develop. If I had to pick I would take a Parabola over an Eclipse though. Especially the 2014 batch
  12. Pahn

    Pahn Meyvn (1,473) Dec 2, 2009 New York

    OP honestly I think I get your tastes. my guess: eclipse will come in 2nd for you, around where FW parabola would rate but a bit higher b/c you love the oak. bcbs still beats it, but 50/50 knows barrel aging better than most.
    Circles413 likes this.
  13. sammyg832

    sammyg832 Initiate (0) Oct 17, 2013 Arizona

    Eclipses are fantastic. I think they are great to share with friends. But I have to say I'd rather drink a nice sour or new glarus fruit beer if I had the choice. It's all picking hairs though because they are all fantastic beers. Depends on your mood. It's like listening to music. I always listen to whatever suits my mood
    jRocco2021 likes this.
  14. Circles413

    Circles413 Initiate (129) Feb 4, 2014 Illinois

    I've been wondering the same thing OP. I have 4 different bottles that I've been sitting on & I'm looking to add to the collection but I haven't tried a single bottle yet. The reason for the high price tag is due to several things; the barrels, the aging, the wax, bottling, overhead cost & so much more. Every time I saw these I thought, why would I pay $30-35 for a bottle of beer when I can just get a bottle of bourbon? Well, because it isn't just bourbon. It's the art & craft to make such a beer & blend it to the breweries ideal perfection. Sure, we can all drink bourbon & get 50 shades of fucked up, or...we can buy an amazing bottle of beer & share it, discuss it & enjoy it the way it's meant to be.

    Adding, some people pay over $300 for a bottle of DL variant due to the hype. So why not throw down $30 on an under rated beer without as much hype? It's available & most people won't pull the trigger to buy it. So I say, why not? You don't have to stand in line or wait for hours or even buy a ticket to get the beer. Pick your favorite bourbon or whiskey & try that variant.

    #14 Circles413, May 23, 2014
    Last edited: May 23, 2014
  15. zac16125

    zac16125 Poo-Bah (2,124) Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
    Society Trader

    There isnt an art and craft to making bourbon?

    Also, I'm not buying justification of the high price tag. They charge $30 a bottle because they can, not because it costs them $28 a bottle to make. Why can other similar sized (or even smaller) breweries make imperial stouts in the same/similar/or even better barrels and charge half the price? They must really be getting fucked over by their wax supplier.

    Not hating, they have the right to charge whatever they want, but there's no doubt in my mind theres a price mark up.
    #15 zac16125, May 23, 2014
    Last edited: May 23, 2014
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  16. Circles413

    Circles413 Initiate (129) Feb 4, 2014 Illinois

    I was saying there's an art/craft in making a BA beer. I'm not downplaying the bourbon itself, but to take 2 crafts & blend them well can't be easy. I don't homebrew so I can't speak as an expert. But I can imagine it's pretty difficult.
  17. Smithrob9999

    Smithrob9999 Initiate (0) Aug 3, 2011 Texas

    I agree with this. How can I buy Elijah Craig 12 year for $18.99 per 750ml, but 650ml of beer aged for 6 months cost almost 2x as much. The whisky is 47% ABV and aged for at least 24x longer. I understand we're not talking Bud Light here but being in manufacturing I know profit margins and what things cost. I'd be surprised if 50/50 had $4-$5 bucks in total cost per bottle, aging included.
    tylerstravis likes this.
  18. Jeffo

    Jeffo Poo-Bah (3,502) Sep 7, 2008 Netherlands
    Society Trader

    Definitely not worth the price. They're good, and seem to have gotten better over the years, but the price is absurd. Then again, people pay $50 for vanilla infused disappointment in a bottle...
  19. zac16125

    zac16125 Poo-Bah (2,124) Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
    Society Trader

    Not to hijack the thread, but you are getting your EC 12 year for a steal of a deal! I am jealous.
    Treyliff likes this.
  20. sukwonee

    sukwonee Initiate (0) Dec 13, 2011 Washington

    I thought EC 12 and 18 (or 20) were great. I wish I can still remember how they exactly tasted in my mouth but memories fade. At the time, I thought they were great, on par with some of the best BA stouts I had.
  21. themind

    themind Defender (676) Mar 14, 2011 New Jersey

    Dude I had the Makers Mark version and it was right up there with the best stouts I have ever had. Truly a masterpiece beer that falls short IMO only because its easier to get then the whales. $30 yea its pricy, but well worth it.
  22. Spiral517

    Spiral517 Initiate (182) Sep 17, 2013 Maryland

    Personally, I can't justify spending $30 on what amounts to 2 glasses of beer. Just won't do it. There is too much amazing and much more reasonably priced beer out there for me to enjoy. However, if someone else doesn't mind spending that kind of money on a beer, I say drink up and enjoy! We all have different means and priorities.
  23. rightcoast7

    rightcoast7 Disciple (354) Apr 2, 2011 Maine

    Eclipse is good to great, depending on the barrel, and I think almost universally agreed to be overpriced. That's the only reason it's on your shelf to begin with 6 months after it came out. Like others have said, some versions are bordering on mediocre, while others are excellent. I personally have not had any that blew my doors off, but if you're a fan of BA stouts, it's certainly worth trying one or two and make your own decision. Check the ratings for a pretty good idea of which versions are likely to be more impressive.
  24. jdb288

    jdb288 Initiate (0) Nov 22, 2013 New Jersey

    Agree with @rightcoast7. It's worth trying at least one to see if it's up your alley or not. Judging by my avatar, you can guess where I land on the subject. :grinning:
  25. BeerMeDuffMan

    BeerMeDuffMan Initiate (0) Sep 17, 2013 Pennsylvania

    They haven't. I just had one two weeks ago and the flavor profile was definitely there. So long as they are away from sunlight, you should be ok.
  26. PuckIt

    PuckIt Initiate (0) Feb 6, 2014 Pennsylvania

  27. theCoder

    theCoder Aspirant (239) Oct 24, 2011 Minnesota

    SO SO SO kicking myself for not picking up the 20 year EC at the release party this past Dec. They were selling the 2011 20 year EC for $38 a bottle...a effing steal imo. I love the 12 year EC Eclipse, it's the one I've had the most often and still my fav. Ok let me take that back, my favorite that I know you can get. My true favorite is the Vanilla Eclipse with 12 year EC second and Java a very close third. Then I went all crazy at the release party and had them mix a Java and Vanilla Eclipse, BOOM SAUCE, that's it buy it, buy it all (tip looks like this year they are doing a coffee/vanilla Eclipse thanks to I think literally everyone at that party mixing the two all night).
  28. RangnaR

    RangnaR Initiate (0) Dec 17, 2012 California

    If anybody ever hears me say "$38 a bottle... what a steal!", please help me... I need an intervention!
  29. Smakawhat

    Smakawhat Poo-Bah (7,430) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland

    They're very enjoyable, you may prefer other variations though more so than others.
  30. PuckIt

    PuckIt Initiate (0) Feb 6, 2014 Pennsylvania

    Of course depends on what bottle you're talking about…
  31. TheCuriograph

    TheCuriograph Disciple (327) Apr 1, 2013 New York

    I've only had the EC 12 Year and the Bernheim Wheat, but I loved both. FiftyFifty is definitely trying cultivate a luxury good mystique with the series, right down to the price tag. For that reason (and the fact I can only get them when I'm visiting friends out of state), I'm not lining my closet with Eclipses. Just a couple bottles a year as a treat. It's a tasty stout, though, and the ones I've had could stack up against any other regularly bottled BA stout (well, maybe not Parabola or BA Pt5).

    Also, I'm opening a Java this weekend. Should I get my hopes unreasonably high?
  32. PuckIt

    PuckIt Initiate (0) Feb 6, 2014 Pennsylvania

    I have a java sitting in the cellar - looking forward to hearing your review!
  33. guinness77

    guinness77 Meyvn (1,420) Jan 6, 2014 New York

    Just had the High West Rye on Monday. I put it in the "WOW thread" so that tells you what I think of it. Then again, mine was a birthday gift, so it cost me nothing. Great, great stout though.
    Phobicsquirrel likes this.
  34. blabaer

    blabaer Aspirant (295) Oct 26, 2013 California

    BCBCS > Java. Pappy, Rum, and Vanilla were off the hook this year. All others should be cellared for a couple years before opening IMHO. I opened a 2011 EC 12, 2011 EC 18 (20), and a 2011 Rittenhouse Rye within the last five months and they have all been sensational.
  35. Phobicsquirrel

    Phobicsquirrel Zealot (508) Oct 1, 2013 Oregon

    Though i like bcbs i think some of the eclipse are better. Especially if you get all the colors and that way you can taste the difference between barrels. Sure 20 bucks for a 4pack of bcbs makes it imo no contest but if i could drink bcbs and a ec 12/20 or pappy not considering cost or limit I'd take the eclipse. It all comes down to flavor for me.
  36. Jsimo01

    Jsimo01 Initiate (0) Dec 6, 2011 California

    All depends on your budget. Certainly a fine beer, love the elijah craig but from a value standpoint I don't see it. I'd take two Parabola for one Eclipse all day long
  37. Smithrob9999

    Smithrob9999 Initiate (0) Aug 3, 2011 Texas

    Why thank you, I think that's a pretty fair price. EC12 Single Barrel (Barrel Proof) is only like $26.99 and Four Roses Single Barrel is $29.99.

    I will say that BCBS is the best BA beer I've ever had, and at $17.49 a 4 pack I can imagine why everyone else has to cost so much. I mean, I like Ten-Fidy but it's $14.99 a 4 pack. For the extra couple of bucks the BCBS is in another world.
    Phobicsquirrel likes this.
  38. azorie

    azorie Champion (892) Mar 18, 2006 Florida

    If Brooklyn (bcs) can make a 10% stout and only charge 10 for a 4 pack, something really is wrong with others charging so much more. No way in hell am I paying more than 12 for any bomber, and frankly its been years and years since I paid more than 10.

    Still I never say its not worth it, if money was no object I be drinking utopias.
  39. Smithrob9999

    Smithrob9999 Initiate (0) Aug 3, 2011 Texas

    $10 !!, Brooklyn BCS runs $7.99 a 4 pack here.
  40. Retsinis

    Retsinis Crusader (723) Sep 25, 2009 California

    The key to enjoying Eclipse, and not feeling the sting of the price, is in the futures.

    Cheaper then retail, and they break the cost down to two payments. Plus this year they had futures only options, that (unless resold, traded for, or black market sales) won't see distribution. They will ship in California, and a trustee can then ship it to you.

    I've gotten futures the last several years, and for me it's worth it, but YMMV.

    As for comparisons OP, you have your palette, only you know what you like, and only trying the beer will tell you if it's "better". Cheers
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