Oct 20, 2015

Sweetwater Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

Sweetwater Brewing has released a slew of new beers that past few years — and I’ve been lucky enough to sample many of them. This 11.2% ABV imperial stout, however, is the company’s first barrel-aged release to be bottled and hit shelves. It’s also the second in the company’ Cork & Cage series of limited brews.

I’m not sure who previously owned the barrels that were used to house this robust stout or for how long they sat prior to bottling. I do know that the influence is hefty and, like many of Sweetwater’s products in your face. There’s a bit of an old or cellared quality to the beer that I particularly enjoyed, as well.


The brew pours tar-thick and slowly with plenty of viscosity. It rests with a small, but dense cap of brown foam.

Sweetwater Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout photo


Coffe, dark chocolate, soft bourbon, vanilla, wood and a distant char all combine smoothly.


There’s much more wood on the tongue and a robustness that I wasn’t quite expecting, but thoroughly enjoyed. Smooth bourbon, cocoa and coffee undertones persist as a moderate sweetness, molasses and vanilla come out to play, as well. The brew is full-bodied with a long lasting, warming finish.


It’s probably due to the time spent in the barrels, or the age of the barrels themselves, but this big imperial stout has a cellared character within its dark depths. I particularly like that aspect of the beer’s flavor — it adds to the overall robust nature. The bourbon influence is pretty strong throughout and leaves a long-lasting, warming finish in its wake. I look forward to more from the Cork & Cage series.

Rating: 4/5

This is a review of a promotional sample.

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