Review: Joseph James Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout

Review of Joseph James Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout from Joseph James Brewing Co. in Henderson, NV.

Beer Type: Stout  ABV: 10%  Tried on draught.

Their Description: “Our annual Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout release is rich and heavy with layers of bourbon, oak, vanilla, chocolate and coffee. Perfect for sipping or aging for a special occasion.”

The Reality: The aroma of bourbon and wood is definitely present. It has a creamy texture with slight carbonation, and the flavor starts with some subtle bitter chocolate notes. Those quickly give way to a mildly sweet oaky vanilla coffee blend. This beer is very smooth and the bourbon aging doesn’t overpower. It is well-balanced and decently complex, and the hint of straight alcohol flavor helps, rather than hinders the overall experience. There is a mild bitterness in the finish that rounds it out.

Final Verdict: It seems like Bourbon barrel-aged stouts are popping up a lot lately, and that’s fine by me. They make a lot of sense when you consider what would pair well with traditional stout flavors, although not every one that I have tried has been good. Fortunately, this one was. It had all the usual suspects of roasted bitter chocolate and coffee along with oak, vanilla and a decent punch of alcohol from the 10% ABV. I’m not usually a fan of “trendy” things, but the best trends become permanent fixtures, and that what I hope happens with bourbon barrel-aged stouts, unlike the “shake weight“, which we are glad didn’t catch on.