Updated on August 6, 2015
Weekend of Darkness, Part Three – The Beers I Loved
Now for the two beers from the weekend that that still make my mouth water when I remember them. (Which is often.)
Bright Stubborn Russian – Choc Coffee Russian Imperial Stout 16% (VIC)
I wasn’t prepared for this. The aroma was chocolate, perhaps even chocolate cookies. But as soon as this passed over my lips and into my mouth, it was like nothing else. I felt like I was wading through a pool of it. It was unbelievably thick, syrupy, like treacle or molasses. It drinks like a liqueur as much as it does a RIS. I tasted chocolate and peanut before it sank down to the depths of my stomach, into the darkness where it belonged.
But here’s the thing–even when it was gone, it lived on. Have you heard that when someone loses a limb, they sometimes have phantom sensations–a sore finger, or an itchy knee? Well, for minutes after my last sip, my mouth was coated, as though the phantom of The Russian lived on, haunting my mouth, my tongue, my tastebuds. I appreciated that Russian long after he’d taken his last breath. And I dream of him still.
Modus Operandi Total Eclipse – Lark Whisky Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout 9.8% (NSW)
I think I ask too much of barrel-aged beers. See, I love scotch. I’m beginning to get into bourbon as well, but I have history with scotch, and our love runs deep. I try to always have a peaty Islay in the house for when I need some warmth and sophistication. The result of this is that whenever I get the chance to have some whisky barrel-aged beer, I’m hoping/expecting to drink some glorious hybrid of beer and whisky. A Chimera that straddles all the richest malty goodness of beer, and all the deep golden fire of whisky. Alas, that usually isn’t the case. And as I said, perhaps the problem is mine–that is quite a high bar, and perhaps an unreasonable fantasy. (Though I do have a memory of a beer called ‘War and Peat’, by Bacchus, I believe, that once blew me away with such flavours.)
The Total Eclipse met my unreasonably high expectations. It didn’t contain the peatiness or smokiness of an Islay, as I imagine the Lark Whisky of Tasmania doesn’t (I’m yet to try many of the Australian whiskys available). But as I filled my mouth to capacity with this legendary brew (something one does not do with a legendary whisky!), I was embraced with the floral sweetness of a Highland scotch. The fires burned, the heart sang, and a memory was forged. My Chimera joined me for that part of the evening, and he was a fine companion indeed. And before he left, lifted away on the wind of a last sip and a final sigh, he whispered, “Hope for me, and hunt for me, and one day I will join you again.”
I miss you already, old friend. But you’ve given me back my hope.
Thus ends Weekend of Darkness for another year. Here’s to twelve months of developing my palate for next year. Beer homework is such hard work.