Thursday, May 1, 2014

Oshkosh Beer Sampler: Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout

A slanted and endless survey of what’s pouring in Oshkosh, tallied one beer at a time.

What: Central Waters Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout. An imperial stout aged for six months on Door County cherries in bourbon barrels. The ABV is not listed on the bottle, but I’d estimate it to be somewhere near 10%.

Where: Festival Foods in Oshkosh sells 4-packs (12 oz. bottles) of Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout for $12.99.

Why: The aroma is reason enough. The beer gives off a dense gust of bourbon mingling with cherry hard-candy and angel fool. It’s a delicious smell. And I’m getting ahead of myself... The beer pours dark ruby with a flimsy sheet of off-white foam that falls to pieces quick as a lick. It’s not the most beautiful beer you’ll cup this weekend, but that heady aroma makes up for it. As does the flavor. The cherry note here is a fat one that blends seamlessly with bourbon booziness and oak-barrel tannins. That blend lends the beer an acidic, wine-like tartness that makes it somewhat refreshing – the last thing you’d expect from an imperial stout. This beer is definitely a breed apart from the other barrel-aged beers Central Waters produces. Their Brewers Reserve series is known for its opulent, chewy beers. That’s fine, but they have a tendency to grow ponderous about half-way down the glass. Not this one. And the lighter mouthfeel doesn’t come at the expense of flavor. The result is a beer that’s overtly complex, yet still inviting.

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