I’ve been saying for weeks now I have a lot of 750 ml bottles of stout I need to get through. There was no way I could get through all of them before the end of stout month, but I really wanted to get at least one in. Although I hate to do it, due to the heavy quality of the beer, I did actually drink this one alone Friday night. This was part of a very big buying weekend for beer a few weeks ago. I picked up three aged beers totaling about $50. I haven’t done a review of the other two beers just yet, so I’ll hold out on the identity of those two. I’m actually holding out to drink the one until my one year anniversary as a blogger which is coming up on March 30. However, I thought this one might be the most drinkable beer out of all the imperial stouts I’m holding on to. Plus, I was drinking it before I went and played hockey Friday night, so I was a little scared of consuming the others before a big hockey game.
I feel like Epic has one of the largest line-ups of beers on the market today. Well for a somewhat smaller craft brewing company anyway. They benefited from some law changes in brewing in the state of Utah, which enabled them to be able to start the brewing company they had been longing to begin. I consistently look at the brews they have available every week at the store, and I have been tempted to buy their stuff more than once. The only other one that I’ve had from them is their Pumpkin Imperial Porter collaboration with DC Brau. I had some mixed feelings on that one. I always want to love everything DC Brau does, but I was a little disappointed by the amount of pumpkin flavor in there. Although I was really looking forward to that one, I was looking forward to this one even more.
Big Bad Baptist is an Imperial Stout that is a part of Epic’s Exponential Series. The brewery doesn’t really give a whole lot of information on their site about what this series means, but it says it is for the “accomplished consumer or the ever-curious”. The other really interesting thing about this series is that they really keep track of the different releases of these styles of beer. For instance, my bottle is the third batch in the Big Bad Baptist release; however, they have had five releases of it thus far. Their site also tells me it was brewed August 22, 2011 and released December 9, 2011. This beer is brewed with cocoa nibs, coffee nibs, and aged in whiskey barrels. Sounds good to me!
This beer pours out a very black midnight oil color. As with all of the other stouts I have reviewed this month, this beer has little to no clarity even possible. Any one of these stouts that gets aged in a whiskey or bourbon barrel seems to always turn out extremely dark. I would say the ones that haven’t been aged have turned out a little less dark. Anyway, there is a light amount of visible lacing that develops on the sides of the glass; however, you do get a ton of sticky residue. The carbonation really isn’t visible, but if you agitate the beer and look around the edges you can see it. The pour results in a moderate amount of brown chocolate colored head that dissipates rather quickly.
I get a lot of ample dark chocolate on the smell here. It has a lot of general sweetness that is in combination with the chocolate smells. I get a lot of light but rich roasts coming off of it. I don’t think it’s really hoppy, but I am getting a little bit of peppery spice in here as well. The coffee smell is certainly secondary to the chocolate, but it is obviously present in here as well. The booziness from the whiskey barrel aging is apparent but not overwhelming. I believe the aging also gave the beer a really woody earthy odor as well.
The beer has a really sweet malt introduction. This is for a slightly extended period of time; however, the whiskey bourbon burn comes in next to create a lot of complexity. The burn from the aging really isn’t all that rich like it is in a lot aged beers; however, you do still get some of the alcohol burn here. I think I actually enjoy that it is slightly lighter than usual. Drinking it on my own makes it a little bit easier on me. There is a lot of rich dark chocolate that comes in after the initial alcohol burn, and it comes combined with a lot of mellow well-balanced coffee flavors. The spicy peppery aroma I smelled in the beer does come through in the taste. It gives a lot of complexity to the normal feel of a barrel aged stout, which is a really welcoming addition to a type of beer I’ve been drinking for the better part of a month. The pepperiness and booze burn combine with the chocolate sweetness to create a really nice complex ending.
I really like how well-balanced this beer seems to be. It has a higher amount of carbonation at the start with slightly more syrup on the ending. The carbonation is still ample enough at the end to keep the syrup from becoming too overwhelming. The beer is a little dry on the ending which is fine; although, I would have enjoyed it being a little more robust on the ending. Overall, it is also slightly thick as well.
I did really enjoy consuming this beer, and I don’t think it was too overwhelming to consume on my own. I’m slightly struggling with the grade under my new parameters here; however, as you’ll see, I used the +/- delineation to show my desire to show it’s slightly better than the flat B grade. I need to start picking up more from Epic in the future. They definitely impressed me with this one, and I only expect more great things out of them.
Teacher Grade: B+