Saturday, October 22, 2011

Redbud Arbor Imperial Stout

Over the past year or so Chase Healey has been kicking it unique with his nano-brewery approach, and by offering his brews exclusively via magnum, he's set himself further apart from the pack.  He's brought to Oklahoma the rarely experienced barrel aging Cuvee style, and has been bucking the trend of the keg to sixer/bomber business model that we see most often.  It is hard to argue with the success he is having with this strategy, as evidenced by the loyal following he has gathered in-state.

It is also evident, with each successive offering, that Chase is getting better and better at his craft.  So if that trend holds true, what I have in my hand here will be a truly fabulous beer.  A trusted clerk at the store where I grabbed this one said it's better than last years Coop Barrel Aged offering, and while taste is obviously subjective, (and I am in no way trying to start a war, and yes I know the history here) that is one helluva statement and compliment.

Now that I've hyped this brew beyond reproach, thus setting it up for complete failure, let us get to it.

Gunmetal black in color with a proud, airy and resilient dark tan head.  The froth clings in a layered pattern all around the glass. 

Deep, rich malts give off the aroma of fresh baked chocolate cake; all bready and sweet.  An underlying dark fruitiness leaves notes of mincemeat and an accompanying tartness.  A bit of licorice and a fleeting hoppiness result in a complexly fragrant background.

Dark chocolaty malts, some vinegar, more licorice sweetness and subdued herbal notes greet the tongue; playing off plums, grapes and raisins, and ending in a noticeable, but not detracting tartness.  There exists a certain metallic aftertaste that becomes slightly off-putting. 

Arbor has a medium to heavy mouth-feel, and is drier than expected, but soft at the edges with no alcohol to speak of, a fact that makes me wonder if we need a little recalibration of our testing apparatus.  I'm completely joking about that of course. 

I must say the trend of exceptional beer from Redbud continues with the Arbor RIS, and I hope some of this batch made it into some oak or whiskey barrels, because that is about the only thing that could make this brew much better.

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