The Whiskey Barrel Aged Avarice Belgian-Style Imperial Stout (bottle 385/708, release no. 1) from River North Brewery in Denver, Colorado pours out pitch black, like well used engine oil, in color and is topped with a two finger, dense, dark espresso foam colored head that slowly reduces down to a thin film with a quarter inch collar. On the nose, all barrel, big bourbon aromas, whisky, vanilla and oak dominate. In the mouth, very smooth with big flavors that meld together. Bourbon is foremost with some vanilla, wood, roast grain, molasses, coffee, bittersweet chocolate, licorice and a good hop bite coming towards the end. Full bodied. Moderate carbonation. Some lacing on the glass. Thick, chewy mouthfeel with a light creaminess. The finish is very long with a good amount of bourbon sweetness riding along right to the end with coffee and hoppy bitterness.
This is a BIG craft beer. Very complex with rich bourbon flavors from the barrel as well as the roast grain and coffee flavors one would expect from a top end stout. I really liked Avarice from River North and thought it would be hard to top that craft brew but River North has shown me not to rest on my laurels as this Barrel-Aged Avarice has stepped the game up a notch. They've taken a really good stout and improved upon it, while making it immediately drinkable. This will be very near the top of my top 10 craft beer list for 2012 along with the regular Avarice which is everything but regular in itself. Highly recommended.
22 ounce bottle, 9.3% ABV, 82 IBU Bottle 385/708, Release No. 1, 2012
Beer 344 of 366 for 2012