Brewery: Barrier Brewing Company (Oceanside, NY)
Style: Stout – Russian Imperial
10.1% ABV / N/A IBU
For a beer conditioned on oak, this Russian Imperial Stout doesn’t bowl you over with that familiar oak smell or flavor. There’s no more tragic way to ruin a perfectly good beer than extending aging in oak barrels, but Morticia owes its unique character to a more subtle technique of conditioning on bourbon barrel spirals, a way of strategically imparting a bit of barrel character into spirits without full-on barrel aging. There’s a hint of bourbon on the nose with Morticia, and a little bit of a palette-warming effect as you swig it, but it doesn’t taste like a stout that fell into a barrel of bourbon and drowned.
This is great, because there’s already a fair bit going on with Morticia between the inclusion of coffee and milk sugar. The latter seems to be the key to the beer’s creaminess, and although still subtle, edges Barrier Brewing’s delightful stout towards the milk stout range. The former is what contributes just the perfect amount of bitterness, enough to evoke the sensation of a cup of coffee, but not in stark opposition to the milk sugar and infused bourbon barrel spiral flavors. With all of that going on, plus the typical chocolatey malts associated with stouts, Morticia ends up with the overall flavor profile of a mocha.
At 10.1% ABV, Morticia packs the same punch as celebrated imperial-style stouts like Ten FIDY from Oskar Blues and Surly’s Darkness. While lightweight considering the trend towards 14-15% ABV Russian Imperials, mo’ booze is not necessarily mo’ better. At that concentration, you taste the alcohol and experience a burning sensation in your throat. Around 9-11.5% ABV is where it’s at for a beer like this, especially for a stout as balanced as Morticia. Swish it around in the glass, breathe in a little bit with a sip in your mouth, and experience the narcotic bliss of a beer that claims to be the final word on imperial stouts.
For more info, check out Barrier Brewing here.