Dual Review – Infinite Wishes 2020 and Infinite Wishes / Peanut Butter 2021

Normally, I would review the standard Infinite Wishes as well as any and all 2021 variants. Since normal is still a few months away, I have cracked open a 2020 as well as the Peanut Butter Cup version.

Now let’s review these two from Smog City

Oh the Wishes I should have made this time last year.  But let’s talk about this waxed Bourbon Barrel Imperial stout, which the label describes as “a bourbon chocolate pie”.  I initially get a red wine vinous note along with a touch of coconut.  As it warms up, the chocolate starts to cone through. A mix of milk and dark versions.  A tiny hint of oak adds a different taste along with a bit more carbonated sparkle than I expected. 

Now let’s turn to Reeses, Jeff, Skippy or wherever your personal peanut butter fix comes from…

Big peanut hit upon popping the bottlecap.  It is not a candy aroma or taste though.  More peanut butter cookie to me.  Maybe a cookie dough effect. Less carbonated than the previous Infinite Wishes which I think works better. The bourbon barrel flavors are effectively removed. I wish that some more of that remained to create a boozy cookie simulacrum. 

In the Dark

Haven’t talked about Three Weavers in a mo’ but they have a new imperial stout with an Irish twist to it Some Dark Hollow. A big 12.3% that aged in Jameson Irish Whisky casks. Look for it in finer beer shoppes.

Switched Gears

El Segundo Brewing is know for their IPA (they even dip their toes in Hazy on occasion) but I want to highlight a barrel-aged collab with Burnin’ Daylight Brewing Company.

Together they whipped up an Imperial Stout then stowed it away in Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels for 9 months. According to the brewery press release it has “notes of cookie dough, brownie mix, cherries, baking chocolate, apricot, bourbon and toasted oak.”

Switchgear Stout” will be available in 375ml bottles on April 4th

Played Out

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Ohana Brewing will soon be releasing one of their biggest beers to date when their barrel-aged Imperial Stout, To Play Us Out hits store shelves. Releasing a 12.4% ABV stout now is probably the right play as we actually/hopefully fall into autumn.

Canned Yeti

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Looks like the Yeti has been contained in a can. Great Divide will be packaging their base Imperial Stout (that amazingly has 75 IBU’s) into 12oz cans.

It will make horizontal Yeti tastings a little easier and the storage of cans will take up less space.

Up From the Cellar – Fritz & Ken’s Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada

Thanks to the generosity of Tomm Carroll THE L.A. beer scribe, the Up From the Cellar feature this month is jam packed. We each brought our bottle of Fritz and Ken’s Imperial Stout to see if the same beer aged in different ways would make a difference. Plus Tomm brought a fitting nightcap of an aged bottle….
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Now I only have 1 bottle left from the Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary series.  But it was worth it for this unique cellar experiment. Fritz & Ken’s Ale, an imperial stout, clocks in at 9.2%.  Cellarable but on the lower end of the ABV spectrum to me.

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Here is what I had to say when I first sampled it: An imperial stout that doesn’t reek of boubon! It’s about time. Nice stout base with a lot of warming alcohol. Surprisingly not super roasty flavored. Mild with a hint of cherry. pours dark black with espresso head to it.

Tomm and I compared our two bottles. Same beer. Both treated well. And yet the two displayed slightly different characteristics. Mine was a little thinner in mouthfeel with minor notes of chocolate along with a little bit of cherry hidden in it. His had a little more soy sauce taste to it and also more sparkle and a touch of smoke flavor too. Both had a bit of oxidation to them. The alcohol heat that I had when young had mellowed out of it. It was a perfectly passable stout. It would have been interesting to compare our bottles with one that had turned south because I feel this particular beer may have passed prime stage and it would have been good to see what those bad notes were and in what percentage they were present in our beers.

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To finish up on a lighter note, Tomm brought out a bottle of Stone La Citrueille Cèleste de Citracado that was brewed with The Bruery and Elysian. A Yam/Pumpkin collaboration.

My review back in 2011 was: Not much in the way of pumpkin or yams but quite nice mix of lemon verbena and birch. Odd at first but this beer really grows on you. Pours light orange.

For a 5% beer that Tomm was worried would be a quick drain pour this was quite nice and still peppy after three years.  There was no evidence of squash at all to my palate but the lemon verbena and spice notes were still going strong.  Maybe that high flavor profile masked other issues but I didn’t get a sense of it being too old.  There was still some bubbles to it as well.  I don’t know how this beer has survived, but it has and it could probably go on longer as well.

Let’s Do the Numbers

After the multitude of helpful GABF statistics started being posted online, it got me to thinking about a personal pet peeve of mine. Why pilsners aren’t loved more.
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Using BeerAdvocate as a test case (that I will explore further, at a later date), German Pilseners 1-50 range from 4.04 out of 5.0 to 3.7
Czech Pilsener from 4.18 to 3.55

That’s a range of of .34 and .63 respectively.

Now look at these two, more loved styles:
American IPA 4.53 to 4.22 for the top 50
Double / Imperial Stouts 4.67 to 4.28

That’s a range of .31 and .39

Obviously IPAs and big stouts seem to be starting with an advantage because their higher ranking beers score higher than their Pilsner counterparts. But what strikes me is that the 50th best IPA and 50th best Imperial Stout are considered that much better than the absolute best Pilsener, from whatever country.

Now, I don’t expect a Pilsener to score 5 out of 5. But I can’t believe that the Top 10 in any category don’t track at the same levels.

Up From the Cellar – 2011 Parabola from Firestone Walker

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The theme for Up From the Cellar for July is a year. 2011 to be specific. Also Imperial Stouts. A favorite style amongst beer geeks and snobs alike.  And we start with a barrel-aged Imperial from Firestone Walker.

This 12.5 stout pours jet black with a beautiful espresso rim of foam. That foam quickly dissipates and you are left with impenetrable darkness. The aroma is incredible. This decidedly falls into the camp of beers that you can smell and be satisfied without ever taking a sip. Though you will want to.

This beer spent 12 months in barrels before I even thought about cellaring it. And it shows. Big bourbon and rum notes intermingle. Some coffee bitterness is in the background as well but this is a barrel show.
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There is some serious warming here as well. Each sip brings a flare of heat. But it fades quickly allowing for the bourbon and late flavor addition of chocolate and tobacco notes to power through. You cheeks will warm. But they won’t be red.  Even when another warming spice sensation emerges as the beer warms up.

The Verdict? – Parabola in all it’s yearly versions, tastes fantastic.  The fact that sitting for an additional three years hasn’t changed that, is almost a moot point.  Of course it’s gonna taste great.  It’s a barrel-aged stout from Firestone Walker.  I don’t think that even a rank amateur cellarman could do any appreciable damage to this beer.

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Narwhal & Brown Shugga’ reviews

In addition to my monthly video reviews, I plan to do some plain old photo and text reviews as well and this month, I compare a returning Lagunitas favorite with a new stout from Chico, California.

Brown Shugga’
The light amber color of this beer belies it’s strength. The booze is present as is a boatload of brown sugar. (Go figure). This gets a little cloying at times and it is a bit slick on the tongue but it pulls together and balances out as it warms up and as the palate get’s accustomed to the sweetness. I still prefer Lagunitas Sucks though.

Narhwal Imperial Stout
Pours jet black with an espresso head. Big roasty notes. Coffee and burnt toast dominate with a bit of hops at the far back. A touch of milk chocolate / cocoa powder. Really lingers on the palate for awhile. Great label artwork too. A campfire beer.

If I had to choose, I would go with the Narwhal. Primarily because Brown Shugga’ is just wicked sweet and the alcohol is really prevalent.