For some reason, Beer Scout jimmywags assigned me this week to write a beer review. Surely he realized that I would be busy with other things this week. On top of the pressure-filled event of Valentine’s Day (for which I was responsible for purchasing and presenting gifts for our shared children as well as him), we also celebrated our oldest boy’s fifth birthday on that same day. This meant that on top of having to monitor a preschooler while he scribbled his name on 25 freaking valentines, and monitoring a toddler who scribbled God-knows-what everywhere BUT on his valentines, I also had to make birthday treats to send to school with the preschooler, and take time off work to make an appearance in his classroom, since he informed me the night before that that’s what moms are supposed to do on birthdays.
Anywho, because I love my darling husband so much (did I mention that, on top of everything else, I also have to come up with something for his birthday, which is in only a few short days away?), I am squeezing into my schedule a beer review. Perhaps he should consider this his birthday gift.
I chose Martin City’s Big Boy Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout to review, in honor of both my little man, who is growing up way too fast (remind me to tell you about the time he asked the school lunch ladies if the punch had alcohol in it) and my husband, who is, at times, also just a “big boy”. (I kid. Jimmywags is awesome.) Plus, everyone else has been doing big, thick, boozy beers this winter, so I wanted to jump on the bandwagon…even if this winter has been ridiculously mild and unworthy of such warm, wintery beers.
Big Boy pours thick and black with essentially no head other than a slight swirl of creamy lace on top. I admit that in the craziness of getting Thing 1 and Thing 2 to bed (Thing 2 without his pacifier, which makes the whole process that much more difficult), I forgot that I’d placed this beer, which is now canned, in the freezer to chill, and left it there probably 20 minutes too long. As with most malty beers, the flavors really open up at a slightly warmer temperature than “almost ice”.
The aroma was primarily caramel, with a little bit of alcohol when I really stuck my nose in the glass and took a big whiff. This beer comes in at 10.8 percent, but is smooth and easy to drink, feeling more like an 8- or 9-percenter. The barrel aging offered notes of creamy caramel and a hint of vanilla up front, which were replaced with flavors of dark fruit to balance the roastiness. The sip finishes with a tartness reminiscent of a good cherry stout, and the aftertaste is of very dark chocolate. The beer, overall, is very well-balanced—bitterness from the roasted malt, sweetness from the barrel-aging process, tartness of dark fruit. Nothing overpowers anything else, and from beginning to end, the experience is pleasant.
Big Boy certainly has a big mouthfeel, with the silkiness of an oatmeal stout and the smoothness of a milk stout, but with a little buzzing on the tongue from the microscopic carbonation bubbles.
I really enjoy this beer. So much so that I’d like to pop open another and let myself fall asleep without one more thought to work, chores, or other obligations this evening. I do think I’ve earned it.