Brewery: Central Waters Brewing Co., Amherst, Wisconsin
Serving: 22 oz bottle
Information: 11% ABV
Style: American Imperial Stout
Availability: Limited Release (One time only.)
Cellaring: Under proper conditions, this beer can be cellared for extended periods.
Eighteen pours an oily dark black that’s crowned by a sturdy cap of rich and dense mocha foam that lingers for quite some time, slowly receding to a skim of loose bubbles while leaving lace on the glass.
Dark in every sense of the word, Eighteen has a rich bitter dark/baker’s chocolate aromatic presence underscored by black strap molasses. A mix of milk chocolate covered coffee light-roast beans and raisins mingle in the background giving Eighteen deeper complexity that shifts to an incredible milk chocolate truffle filled with whipped nougat, hazelnut, and toffee shavings. Vanilla and charred oak as well as a touch of bourbon heat are at the forefront of this orgasmic aroma but certainly cause no overwhelming or overly boozy characteristics.
As an imperial stout the showcase of Eighteen is malt all the way but, the aroma of this barrel-aged beer does focus a little bit more on it’s time in wood than it does in the flavor. Dark, dark malts capture a deeply complex chocolate profile that ranges from sweet milk chocolate drizzled over oily coffee beans and sticky raisins to the 90% cocoa dark chocolate morsels that bring the bitterness. A sticky smear of molasses mingles with vanilla bean and hazelnut in a unique way that’s unlike the directness of the truffle the aroma suggests as it warms.
Viscous and oily, this thick stout has a full body that borders on throat-coating without becoming either overly sweet or cloying. A sipping beer? Absolutely, but its rich presence, moderately dry and bitter finish, and belly-warming effect should leave not a soul wanting in regards to body!
Deep, rich, and abundantly complex, Eighteen is a barrel-aged masterpiece that showcases the organic incorporation of characteristics barrel-aging imparts on a heavily malty stout. From its ever-changing chocolate aromatics laced with hazelnut and vanilla nuances through the molasses and coffee flavors to the smooth and warming body, all gently surrounded by an overarching bourbon barrel presence, Eighteen can be enjoyed fresh as well as saved to develop further, standing the test of time.
Candidly, the discussion was had among a few of us at the anniversary party about the similarities between barrel-aged stouts; not just Central Waters, but all of them. Imbibing from the bottle while packing up this beer was most definitely not the best way to experience the beer in full fashion but sitting down with it at proper temp and in a glass, I can confidently say Eighteen is unlike any of Central Waters’ other barrel-aged stout releases. Coming from the same brewery, there are definite similarities anyone privy to prior releases might acknowledge but, Eighteen is in a class all its own; the knowledge of self, process of experience and learning, and downright skill of Central Waters seriously shines in this latest release. Well done, gentlemen. I can’t wait to see what Nineteen holds!
Score: 98 / 100 – World-Class