Beer: Origin of Darkness Imperial Stout Aged in Oak Barrels and Finished in Tawny Port Barrels w/ New Zealand Pinot Noir, South Pacific Vanilla & New Zealand Cacao
Brewery: Collective Arts Brewing (Hamilton, Ontario) and Garage Project (Wellington, New Zealand)
Style: Stout- Imperial/Double
10.8% ABV / 0 IBU
Who wears the crown when it comes to stouts? Municipal Waste’s resident beer geek Dave Witte says that Asheville’s Burial reigns supreme. Burial’s imperial stouts and 3 Floyd’s Dark Lord are all godhead, but all clock in at the 13-15% ABV range that’s get you (municipally) wasted. For those that prefer a less bumpy ride, there’s Surly’s Darkness and North Coast’s perennial favorite Old Rasputin. And for those that want a 10%(ish) ABV stout experience that isn’t a Russian imperial, there’s Origin of Darkness from Collective Arts, a series of collaborations with some of the world’s most elite breweries.
Quality of the Origin of Darkness will vary by the varietal, but the most wonderful part of the series is how much character the stout takes on from the partner breweries that Collective Arts selects. Case in point: Origin of Darkness Imperial Stout Aged in Oak Barrels and Finished in Tawny Port Barrels w/ New Zealand Pinot Noir, South Pacific Vanilla & New Zealand Cacao. There’s a lot going on with that name and a lot that reflects Garage Project’s surroundings, As the Kiwis are quick to point out, New Zealand offers a perfect climate for growing hops, marijuana, and wine grapes, and this stout features the addition of grape skins/must from pinot noir grapes (along with locally sourced vanilla and cacao nibs).
I’ve sampled a few different versions of the Origin of Darkness series, and this one is undoubtedly the best due to its creamy mouthfeel and the deep consideration given towards the aging. This stout’s finish is exceptional, with just enough hints of the oak and the port from the barrels. A wine barrel aged stout is a rare work of beauty and it’s a wonder more breweries aren’t experimenting with it—tannins are an intriguing bittering substitute and the port barrels offer a candy-like rounding of the stout’s rougher edges. Of course, this version of Origin of Darkness presents a rare opportunity to get a beer from Garage Project in North America. But buy it for what’s inside the can—they fucking nailed it!