Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

Maker: Arcadia Ales, Battle Creek/Kalamazoo, Michigan, USAwpid-2015-03-02-19.36.32.jpg.jpeg

Purchased: 2012

ABV: 12%

Price: Don’t remember.

Appearance: Dark chocolate brown with a short-lived lacy head.

Nose: Bourbon, sweet malt, strawberry licorice, light molasses.

Palate: Medium bodied and powerful. Coffee, anise, rye recipe bourbon, piloncillo.

Finish: Light with a little bourbon and molasses.

Parting words: Aging beer is something I got really interested in a couple years ago and it’s starting to pay off now. I had an aged Arcadia Imperial Stout at the Arcadia brewpub once and it was good but was all anise and little else. This is much richer but oddly playful. The various flavors pop up seemingly at random on the palate to engage in a tug of war with the others. The result is not well integrated but still very enjoyable. If I have a complaint, it’s that it’s too enjoyable. I almost never get drunk off of beer but after just one of these I felt a pretty big buzz. At 12% ABV this beer is best drunk in the same way as a fortified wine. Find a friend or two and split a bottle after supper. I don’t remember what I paid for it but I think it was around $8 for one bottle which I think is fair for a liquid dessert. Barrel Aged Imperial Stout is recommended. Put it away for a while if you can.

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Thunder Trail ESB

Maker: Arcadia, Battle Creek, Michigan, USAThunder Trail ESB

Style: Bitter Ale

ABV: 6%

Appearance: Burnt sienna with a frothy head.

Nose: Malt, yeast, hint of hops and figs.

Palate: Medium bodied and fairly sweet on entry. The bitterness grows and grows like a until it overruns the mouth.

Finish: Big hoppy bitterness. Dried flowers, grapefruit, dark toast.

Parting words: Thunder Trail is a reworking of Arcadia’s old ESB and it’s just as good, if not better (assuming it’s not just the same thing with a different name). Historically, Arcadia’s specialty is British style ales and this beer is an excellent example. It’s a classic ESB. Dark and rich with a lot of bitterness on the back end. Very food friendly and might lend itself to session drinking, even though that’s not something I really do with beer and the ABV is on the high side.

Anyway, I love this beer like I do most everything Arcadia does. Recommended.

Head to head: Cereal Killer vs. Cereal Killer Special Edition Cellar Aged

1) Cereal KillerIMG_20130930_162935

2) Cereal Killer SE

Maker: Arcadia, Battle Creek, Michigan, USA

Style: Barleywine

ABV: 10%

Purchased for

1) $12 for a 4 pack

2) $10 for a 22 oz bottle

Appearance

1) Dark auburn with a moderately foamy head on first pour.

2) Similar but with a slightly lighter color.

Nose

1) Big and fruity. Cherry-walnut bread, raisin, plum.

2) Less aggressive but brighter and a little sour. Apricot, mandarin orange, sourdough bread.

On the palate

1) Grainy. Grape Nuts cereal, Kasha, hints of yeast, blueberries and roasted malt.

2) Creamy and citric. Lemon custard, fresh squeezed orange juice.

Finish

1) Long and bitter. Burnt toast, French roast coffee.

2) Easygoing and bright. Medium dark toast with lemon curd and a cup of Central American coffee.

Parting words: Barleywine is not a style of beer I drink much of, because I early in my craft beer journey I had some that I didn’t care for. It’s still not a style I’m probably going to drink a lot of, but Cereal Killer has changed my thinking on barleywines. It’s very tasty with big cereal flavors and very satisfying on its own.

The difference between the aged and standard versions was striking. Some of the aggressive fruity flavors that make the standard version so exciting are muted here and the citrus notes come on very strong. Not to say the aged version is dull, but it’s a different beer entirely. I don’t know if it’s better or worse but it is easier to drink. Not to say that the standard edition isn’t, but…oh hell. Both are recommended.

Shipwreck Porter

Maker: Arcadia Ales

Style: Barrel-Aged Porter

ABV: 12%

Appearance: Dark chocolate brown with beige head.

Nose: Chocolate, mole, slightly boozy.

On the palate: Sweet caramel chocolates, brownies, creamy, with a bit of spice and bitterness.

Finish: boozy and sweet.

Parting words: Shipwreck is not particularly complex, but it is very good. It’s like a dark chocolate caramel brownie in a bottle. The bourbon barrel aging is what brings the caramel to the table, and it complements the stout very well without giving it weird flavors. The same cannot be said for many barrel-aged beers. It’s a little over-priced, but still very much worth a recommendation.

Big Dick’s Olde Ale

Maker: Arcadia Ales, Battle Creek, Michigan

Style: Old Ale

Vintage: 2009

ABV: 9%

I reviewed this ale early on in the life of this blog, but I was curious about how it has changed since I first tasted.

Appearance: Monstrous head, overflowed my glass. Hazy, medium brown, like iced tea.

Nose: Sweet and fruity, not much in the way of toasty flavors, but a hint of bitterness lies behind the fruit.

On the palate: Medium bodied. A bit of toasty malt comes through here. It’s fruity and dry at the same time, like a middle-aged Cabernet. Even after close to an hour in my mug, it is still effervescent. Maybe more like a brut champagne now. I guess my point is that this is very winey ale.

Finish: Fruity and sweet. Slow effervescent tingle and a hit of bitterness. A tiny bit of green tea and gum drops.

Parting Words: This beer is like the kind of significant other you want as an adult: sweet, elegant and sophisticated. There is little suggestion of the ruthless, violent, absentee king Big Dick’s Olde Ale is named after. This is a great, flawlessly crafted beer. Highly Recommended.

Angler’s Ale

Maker: Arcadia Ales, Battle Creek, Michigan, USA

Style: American Pale Ale

ABV: 5%

Appearance: Hazy orange, big frothy head that dissipates fairlyquickly.

Nose: Oranges, raspberry, hops, fresh cut hay.

On the palate: Full-bodied, malt, breakfast cereal, moderately bitter, spicy and hoppy.

Finish: sweet then big and bitter and exuberant.

Parting Words: The Pete Sampras of American Pales. Along with Milkin It Productions’ sophisticated Axl Pale Ale, this is my favorite American Pale. Highly recommended.

Review: Sky High Rye

Maker: Arcadia Ales, Battle Creek, MI

Style: Rye Beer

ABV: 6%

Appearance: Persisant creamy head. Slightly Cloudy Blonde color.

Nose: Malty, spicey, citrus, hops.

On the Palate: medium-bodied, nice bitterness balanced with a bit of citrus sweetness, lime, lemongrass, cardamom, black pepper.

Finish: Light and sweet with a little bit of bitterness.

Parting Words: Sky High Rye is a much more balanced beer than Red’s Rye PA. The bitter, sour and sweet are superbly balanced. Add a little fish sauce and this could pass for Pad Thai. It’s not nearly as aggressive and punchy as Red’s but this is a subtle and refreshing, “thinking person’s” beer. Highly recommended.