There are beer styles that any of us as drinkers – either on the craft journey or otherwise – reach for almost on instinct. Maybe not necessarily our favorite, but close. Personally, stouts have been that style for me ever since Guinness opened my eyes and taste buds nigh on 2 decades ago now. When I discovered barrel aged beers, my beer-view became enriched in ways I couldn’t have expected. That tactic actually ended up informing my liquor sensibilities as well as yielded great beer flavors with each brew I’d try.
It’s been 3 years since I had Ten by Oskar Blues for the first time. Even then, I thought it was a great imperial stout – probably one of the best I’d had at that point. To make a sports reference, Ten Fidy is that Buffalo Bills team from the early ninties. Great in every aspect of the game as it tore up the NFL for four consecutive years, win after win after win. Glory days indeed, until the day of the Super Bowl, which they’d find a way to not win. Four years in a row.
Barrel aging this beer steps up an already near perfect stout and ascends it to nirvana by the measure of my taste buds. Even at 12.9% ABV, the bourbon burn is not present. Sure, it’s boozy, but that only enriches the flavors of coffee, chocolate and cherry with the right amount of confidence to shine at center stage in this beer. It pours like starless night and is so alluring that I almost don’t want to actually drink it for fear of it disappearing. However, reality dictates that’s not happening and the bourbon river carries a dark malt raft of all the aforementioned flavors on a smooth, satisfying journey over the palette.
I could make light of one of the NFL’s great dynasties and say that a barrel-aged Thurman Thomas or Jim Kelly was what that team needed, but I respect that dynasty too much to do so. I respect Ten Fidy too much to simply state that it’s inferior on its own. Barrel Aged Ten Fidy is, in my still-young craft beer journey, an absolute perfect imperial stout without question and I’ll continue to seek it out where ever I can.