Monday, February 25, 2008

Vintage Owd Mac Imperial Stout

This past weekend the great Free State Brewing Company officially turned nineteen years old. Earlier this month they held a beer banquet to commemorate their anniversary. This weekend was a little more low-key. Friday through Sunday they served up some of everybody's favorite specials from the last year, like their awesome tuna tartar. And of course, they busted out the beer, and plenty of it. They had several seasonal beers on tap including Bowersock Bock, Fireside Imperial Pilsner, Coeur de Saison (The Wife's favorite), and Old Backus Barleywine. But the real star of the weekend was the 2005 vintage Owd Mac's Imperial Stout.

Owd Mac is a big, burly stout that is aged in oak whiskey barrels from McCormick Distilling Co. in Weston, MO. It's also the inspiration for the first part of my name (owd is an old english way of saying old and Müller is the correct spelling of my family name, in case you were wondering). The very first time I tried this beast was back in '01 or '02, I ordered it to with a burger during a work lunch. Oops, little did I know that I was about to try my first oak aged beer, and probably the strongest beer I'd ever had...during lunch...with coworkers. Luckily I made it through the rest of the day, and headed back for more. Owd Mac was the most unusual and unique beer I had ever had, I was a big fan.
Now that I have a little more seasoning and a more experienced palette, I couldn't wait to taste a four year old sample. The appearance is a thick murky black liquid with no head, none. Big nose is full of dark treacle, vanilla, oak, hints of raisins and bourbon. The longer you sit and sniff it the more flavors you can pick out. The first taste is molasses and caramel accompanied by vanilla and traces of burnt oak. Mellow and complex at the same time. The finish is fairly dry with lingering raisin and licorice flavors, alcohol is barley noted. The mouth feel is like a watered down syrup. There is no carbonation which gives it a very unbeer like feel. Alcohol slowly warms the belly. An acquired taste, but very good. While I admire Free State for serving this on cask, I think it could benefit from a touch of forced carbonation to give it a livelier feel in the mouth and really bring out all the flavors. A few bubbles short of an A-plus.

Look at the geek taking notes at the table

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