Beer Deluxe, Federation Square (Melbourne)
The barrel aging of stouts plunges even greater depths… and I am going straight to hell.
A thought occurs: I am almost thankful that stout season is on its way out. Great stouts of all varieties are so abundant at the moment that it is easy to succumb to pleasure overload. So, while at the excellent Beer Deluxe (Federation Square); my mind squarely honed in on hoppy IPAs, I am presented with the sort of temptation that would have even St. Peter quivering with anticipation: Mikkeller George (cognac barrel aged imperial stout). Still, as winter looks set to give way to spring, there is no turning back, no repent, no release from the dark (beer) lord’s embrace.
With an aroma like no other, resistance is utterly futile. I am as much a stranger to cognac as an Alaskan is to Tokyo, hence my impressions may not be entirely accurate. No matter… George is as boozy as can be on the nose; pointed black cherry is there as well. It is not a particularly complex aroma, like those exhibited by some of MOO Brew’s imperial stouts, however what it lacks in complexity it more than atones for in intensity.
George features a head that is almost as dark as that on show from Founders’ Imperial Stout. It is a beautiful, mocha colour that sits atop a beer that is squid ink black. Here, the mouthfeel and body is smooth, rich, dense, decadent and delectable.
On the palate, the delectation continues in earnest. George is forward in its bitterness and woodiness; in fact, it could almost be described as being quite oleaginous in character. Black cherry and rich, dark but not terribly sweet chocolate notes take sway over the entire palate. Suggestions of smoky tar and ash make their presence known as well and in so doing remind me that there is a certain ways to go yet before surfacing from the blackened underground of stout to the floral gardens of IPA-land.
Intensely rich coffee and treacle notes follow through. As this fantastic beer warms, its booziness becomes more prevalent, but not so that it is rendered overbearing. While George proved to be not the most groundbreaking beer in terms of complexity, it absolutely blew my mind with its bestial monstrosity. If you are not quite over stout season yet, get on it, post haste!