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Barrel Aged 110K+OT Batch #2 I.R.I.S. (2009) by Cigar City Brewing
Russian Imperial Stout
11.40 % ABV

Review by joe1510 on 11/26/09  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
82 3 9 17 4 8 2009

Big thanks go out to Dave for sharing this bottle tonight, thanks d0bitch! BA 110k+OT pours, no, gurgles from the bottle black as night and becomes a black hole in the glass making my living room darker. A standard pour produces a fingers worth of silky dark chocolate head, one of the darkest heads I've come across actually. After a couple minutes the head falls to a Milky Way like swirling with a chunky collar that leaves behind some speckled lacing. This is a fantastic looking beer all around.

Upon the pour I'm hit with a fistful of bourbon in the nose but as this beer breathes the base stoutness comes forward with notes of coffee, roasty malts and a solid berry backbone. The barrel aging wraps itself cleanly around the stout and shows off sweet bourbon, damp oak, and a swirl of vanilla. A quick arousal of the head brings with it some alcohol fumes that tickle the nose slightly. The longer this RIS sits in the glass the less of a bourbon presence can be found. There's also a clean roasty graininess in the background with some more swirling.

The flavor seems to follow the nose fairly closely. The bourbon notes are pushed to the background and the presence of coffee grounds are duly noted. A nice roastiness and piney hoppiness hits mid palate before segueing into a black coffee bitterness. This big RIS finishes with a cocoa and coffee aftertaste that lingers until the next drink. The bourbon is much softer than expected with faint hints of sweetness, damp oak, and vanilla. The flavors seem to be a little muddled at the moment but overall it's a tasty brew.

The body feels a little lighter than expected as soon as it hits the tongue but it ends up surprising me with a very oily feel that makes its presence known and decides to stick around for a while. The hops must have been abundant in the original version of this brew because they're still making their place known in this brew months later with a lingering bitterness after each drink.

This is a fairly easy stout to put away and when taking into consideration that it's barrel aged is a super easy to put down. The barrel aging doesn't at all overtake the brew like so many other BA RISs out there. The interesting flavor profile makes this a hard glass to set down.

I'm a little on the fence about this beer and it's hard for me to decide my final feelings on it. It's good for sure but it doesn't quite blow my hair back. The hoppiness is interesting when combined with the barrel aspects and I'm starting to come around. Cigar City makes some unique brews, that's for sure. Thanks Dave!

Reviewed: 11/3/09

Served In: Pint Glass

Review by Dr. Rockzo on 11/02/09  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
82 3 10 17 3 8 0
Big thanks to Matt, Ryan, and (soon) John for the bottles of this bad boy, one I'm very excited to try for whatever reason (liking CCB a lot lately). This is Matt's bottle from the IP darkness day swap, thanks dude! Bottle # 410/449 poured into a Darkness snifter and shared with buddies.

A: Pours out a thick and viscous used-motor-oil black color that absorbs all rays of light trying to penetrate it's ominous of the darkest brews I've ever seen. A really impressive 2 finger dark brown/mocha foamy/bubbly dense head builds right away and has very nice retention, although the lacing is a bit patchy and thin. But still, for such a huge BA beer the head is still quite amazing and the color and body are just what I like to see for the style.

S: The smell is really quite enticing, with a plethora of combining aromas that really seem to come together well. An initial wave of big-time earthy/piny/slightly floral hops from the IRIS hit hard just like I remember them before some wet oak and subtly sweet vanilla/butterscotch notes from the barrel step out of the background. The roastiness is also quite high when given some time to warm with notes of charred grains, dark chocolate, and burnt caramel sweetness from the malts. Spicy sweet bourbon-boozy notes dance in and out of the background as well. Overall, not the most pungent and intense smelling BA brews but the depth and complexity are fantastic.

T: The taste is a bit less complex and deep, much like I remember being the case for the standard IRIS. The hops are a bit too dominant showcasing earthy pine and semi-floral notes with a lot of accompanying bitterness and a mini-touch of dirty/soapiness, but they don't completely steal the show. Nuances of vanilla, butterscotch, and wet oak pop out amongst deep roasted (almost burnt) maltiness with lots of dark cocoa, espresso, and burnt molasses. It tastes good but the different aspects seems to compete too much with the hops as opposed to blending together and it's also just a touch "dirty" at times.

M: The mouthfeel has some of that dirty/soapy aspect as well, which hurts it a touch with it's slightly astringent finish. The body is quite full at first but seems to have just a bit too much carbonation which makes it finish a bit thin. The consistency starts coating and sticky but quickly turns dry and bitter as hell, a combination of the charred maltiness and high hopping. Alcohol heat is spicy at times on the throat, but always warming and pleasant and never becoming harsh.

D: The 11.5% ABV aside, this is quite an interesting and fairly drinkable monster BA RIS. with tons of unique hoppiness that I both kinda like and dislike at the same time. The lack of cloying stickiness also helps this go down a bit faster than it should, although the slightly acrid taste and feel does slow me down a touch. Overall, an entire bottle would be doable but not optimal and the bitterness would wreck up the palate pretty good I'm sure.

BA 110k+nclwriubflwenfv was quite the interesting treat. The bourbon barrel was much softer and more reserved than I expected, but it did add some good qualities and seemed to have tempered out the hops a bit (one of my initial complaints with the regular version). I would definitely recommend this beer to fans of the style, just don't give up the farm trying to get it as it might not live up to the hype for everyone. Luckily I had 3 kick-ass traders help me out fairly, thanks fellas for the chance(s)!

Served In: Snifter

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