TGIF – Lettuce Discuss Imperial Stouts

Craig and I (and everyone in the PNW, no?) are fans of great beer.  Our tastes have a tendency to change, and as it stands now, we most like expensive things.  Of course, right?  When we first started dating, the “nice” beer that Craig liked was Stella Artois, and my personal favorite was Pacifico, with a little lime.  We both thought we were fancy.  As we got older and bothered trying more and more things, we progressed into a phase where we were drinking a lot of witbier (something like Blue Moon) and hefeweizens, then amber ales, IPAs, and eventually made our way to stouts.  As it is now, our “style” of choice for beer is either a sour beer like a lambic or a kriek (in which a beer is brewed, then bacterial strains re-ferment the beer, basically turning it into a tangy creation, kind of like how you make yogurt), or an imperial stout(which is basically just a stronger, thicker, more intense version of a normal stout).  Something that some of the fancier breweries tend to do is get an imperial stout, and age it in old liquor barrels.  Good bourbon barrel-aged imperial stouts are mind-blowing complex, with all of the intriguing characteristics of a well-made imperial stout, plus all of the complexities of a great bourbon, the slight caramel, vanilla, and smoke flavors.  They are a holy grail for us, but difficult to find in bottles, as most breweries will sell them only on location in their brewpub.

Earlier this week I was at our local BevMo collecting a few different examples of hard ciders (we’re just starting to get into those) and one of the salespeople was stocking the shelves.

“Can I help you find anything?”
“Um… Do you have any great imperial stouts?” (I love getting personal recs from people)

His eyes lit up, and with a tone akin to a child asking if Santa was bringing him the BB gun he wanted “Do you like Bourbon barrel aged stouts!?!”

My eyes lit up, and with a tone akin to a child finding out that Santa was bringing him the BB gun he wanted “Heck YES I like Bourbon barrel aged stouts!!!”

Velvet Merkin Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

He ran into the back.  I trembled with anticipation.  When he returned, he informed me that they had JUST gotten them in an hour earlier, and that there were none on the shelves and that “it’s awesome.”  I happily took it, finished my shopping, and got out to my car, where I looked it up on beeradvocate, where people tend to be pretentious and take beer snobbery very seriously.  It’s rated a 96/100, which is pretty much unheard of.  Plus, well, it’s called Velvet Merkin.  Come on, that’s funny.  In case you aren’t aware, a merkin is a pubic toupee.

Velvet Merkin Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

As you may have noticed, our bottle is marked No. 001.  It looks like the distribution on the beer is only a few hundred cases, so I assume it’s the case number.  Their promo photo the Firestone Walker website shows a bottle with a 001 marking, but the box says 002.  Who knows.  Either way, since it’s so highly rated, I’d say it’s unlikely we won’t love it, and I will probably be heading back to BevMo again today to grab another couple bottles if they still have them.  

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