Review of Whetstone Station Holy Cow! Imperial Stout from Whetstone Station Brewery in Brattleboro, VT.
Beer Type: Stout ABV: 10% Tried on draught.
Their Description: “This ale was aged in an oak bourbon barrel, allowing complex flavors to meld and mellow over time. Expect deep, rich chocolate and coffee flavors overlaid upon a complex malt-forward background, and accented with notes of caramel and vanilla.”
The Reality: This beer starts with a sweet oaky scent, however the initial flavor is a surprisingly bitter roasted black coffee taste, which is followed by woody bourbony goodness with hints of vanilla. All the flavors in their description are present, but I wouldn’t say that they had “melded over time”, I found them to be two separate flavor waves that didn’t overlap much. It finishes on the sweeter side with a hint of spice, and the aftertaste evaporates with the alcohol.
Final Verdict: A very interesting bourbon barrel-aged stout because of the initial bitterness that is often smothered during the barrel aging process. Your palate will get to enjoy a variety of sensations during a glass of this beer, and I think that’s a good thing. The flavors may not all “meld” together, but rather they hit your tongue in a sequential order, and I’m OK with that. I still found it to be an enjoyable drinking experience and certainly a quality beer. Also, when given the choice between a Holy Cow and an Unholy Cow, you should probably choose the Holy Cow.