Archive for the 'Barrel Aged Beers' Category

2008 Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout and a Diamondback Robusto

Aren't they just dreamy?

When I’m not stuffing my face with rich, decadent foods alongside drinking a rich, decadent beer, you can find me enjoying a nice cigar…. and drinking a rich, decadent beer (Let’s be honest, I drink every chance I get). As is the case with food, I find beer pairs better with cigars than a nice brandy, porto, or what have you. Beers can be manipulated in ways that liquors and wines can not be. The flavor profiles and varieties of beers are innumerable, and, as much as I enjoy a good bourbon or Bordeaux, there’s only so much you can do to change the taste of liquor and wine. The same is the case with cigars, in terms of manipulation of flavor profile. There are so many types of tobaccos that have the ability to have their tastes changed with slight manipulations. The pairing of the two together is just common sense.

That being said, you can not just throw any beer and any cigar together. As is the case with pairing liquors with cigars, match like qualities with like qualities. You do not want to pair a nice robusto with pale ale. Likewise, it would be equally disastrous pairing a big English barleywine with a mild cigar. Match them flavor for flavor. An stout would not serve well when paired with a cigar whose profile is a bit more on the citrusy and light side. As I said, the pairings are common sense, but think before pairing. If you happen to be more knowledgeable about one and less about the other, as a beer connoisseur or cigar aficionado about the flavor profiles of either/or…. or you could just follow and ask us (hint, hint).

Well finally, onto the pairing. I lucked out at one of my local beer stops when a buddy of mine who works there told me about a shipment of fairly rare Goose Island beers that had just come in. Naturally, after hearing they had the 2008 version of their Bourbon County Brand Stout in said shipment, I bought as many as was allowed. I knew that this would be the perfect beer to pair with a cigar…
… which cigar though? Now, due to the flavor profile and high %ABV of the BCBS, I knew I wanted a robust cigar that had a creamy, sweet yet spicy taste. Nicaraguan tobacco is known to have a flavor profile such as this, so I set out to look for the perfect smoke to match. At my local smoke shop, I came across a fairly inexpensive, yet interesting smelling cigar. The Diamondback Robusto, a cigar made with Nicaraguan tobacco, has the words “Dulce Humo” on the wrapper, which translates to sweet smoke. A whiff gave me just what I was looking for; a bit of a sweet, yet peppery and oaky smell. I knew this would pair well with the BCBS.
Back at home, a pop of the top, a light of the smoke, and I was in heaven. The beer itself was divine. A nice, velvety smooth vanilla flavor came through first. Not a sticky sweet cloying vanilla that you get sometimes from vanilla bean aged stouts, but a subtle, yet powerful vanilla that comes from oak aging. Big chocolate flavors play with a much more subdued, yet perfectly balanced, bourbon sweetness. This beer is rich, smooth, and nearly perfect. I did not want the first sip to end. A puff of the cigar put me in even more of a subliminal state. A nice peppery taste, followed by nutmeg and cinnamon, were the first on the palate. After they subdued, a nice creamy vanilla, akin to the one tasted in the beer, came through. As I pushed the smoke to the the roof of my mouth, a sweet toffee flavor began to rear it’s head. Going back and forth between the two enhanced the flavors of each, as well as bringing more subdued notes out. The Bourbon County began giving off slight coffee flavors, not bitter coffee, but a nice, creamy mocha. A bit of a paprika note was tasted in the cigar, as well.
This was a fine pairing, one I did not want to end. When the beer and smoke was done, I was forced back to earth to rejoin reality.




Hands down one of the top 3 best American Wild Ales I’ve had to date, easily holding it’s own against such classics as De Dolle Oerbier and Duchesse de Bourgogne. In your face wild yeast flavors leading into an abundant fruity finish. Perfect with some of your favorite stinky cheeses.

beer + food = Barleydine


Russian Imperial Stout | 9.50% ABV

Beer notes:

Pours super black with a very viscous flow. A sturdy tan head builds late in the pour and delicately laces the glass. Small amounts of vanilla and chocolate play out in the aroma as well as following straight into the taste. The nose is loaded with malt character which translates into a very heavy bodied beer. There is a very forward bitter flavor that occurs from the dark malts, hops are very subdued. The alcohol of the beer is not too forward but warms the throat nicely and melds well with a long finish.

Pairing notes:

Grill a nice thick NY Strip Steak to your liking, hopefully you like it medium-rare. The abundance of malt in the beer links very well with caramelized meat. Perhaps you’d top the steak with Gorgonzola which this beer would tear through using the bitterness from the malts. Although their subtle, the hops do a nice job clearing the palate. If you’d happen to have any left in the bottle from dinner, pair the rest with quality dark chocolate or a very rich chocolate cake. Once again, the malt body possesses some chocolate characteristics which would play nicely with your desert.

beer + food = Barleydine

Beer reviewed by LEP Himself


I had the pleasure of cracking bottle #2 of Brooklyn Black Ops Stout on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The Wingman and I were in the mood for something barrel-aged and I knew exactly what to grab out of the Barleycellar. Black Ops, Baby!

Some time ago, I found this beer for sale on eBay and immediately bought it. I had no sooner received the first bottle when I purchased another for the cellar. I was going to crack one and leave the other to age. Several months after that, I was on a trip to Beers of the World and found more up there, I had to have another. I tucked that one away nicely in the Barleycellar to age.

One evening after work I had decided to open my first bottle. I made big plans including a fancy meal. You’d think I was on a date. It was a momentous occasion being this beer is from my favorite brewery. I recorded the tasting of the beer and wrote long tasting notes, much longer than usual. It was quite the evening. Fast forward to now, I had to have it again. The Wingman had only listened to me talk about it up to this point, so we decided to get into it.

In my opinion, it’s pretty much Black Chocolate Stout aged in bourbon barrels. That may sound simple enough, but it certainly adds a lot of complexity to the beer. It pours black, motor oil black, with the darkest head I’ve ever seen. The aroma is loaded with malts, coffee, chocolate and bourbon, which all follow straight into the flavor. This is a sipping beer, perhaps after dinner. It did go well with dark chocolate, you want that bitterness that dark chocolate possesses. Those notes in the chocolate linked right up with the bitter espresso and chocolate notes in the beer.

I still have one bottle in the basement, I need a very special occasion to open that guy up. Unless of course, I find myself able to obtain another bottle or two, heck, maybe three or four. It is a must keep in the Barleycellar.

beer + food = Barleydine


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