Jul 29, 2016

Rogue Brewing Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout

To say that this 11.8% ABV barrel-aged imperial stout is a labor of love would be an understatement. Sure, all breweries put everything they’ve got into crafting their products, but the process for the production of Rolling Thunder is something else. As the country’s only brewery that is also a distillery and cooperage, Rogue is in a unique spot. They are able source ingredients for the beer from their own farms, craft that beer and then age it in barrels that they made — well, that Nate Lindquist, the company’s only cooper, makes.

Rolling Thunder is the first beer to be aged in any of Nate’s barrels. But before this big beer hit the wood, the barrels were soaked in Rogue’s Dead Guy Whiskey (distilled from their own Dead Guy Ale). Once in barrel, the beer is aged in the salty air of Yaquina Bay on the Oregon coast for six months. The only other beverage I’ve had aged in this fashion is Laphroaig Single Malt Whisky, which has an incredibly strong flavor due to that iodine-rich air.

Thankfully, Rolling Thunder doesn’t taste like an old, leather belt (I really do love Laphroaig), but the barrel aging certainly has provided a unique influence on the flavor profile of this stout. Cocoa, espresso, a smooth roast, wood, whiskey and vanilla mingle smoothly while anise and grain linger lightly in the background. The array of flavors work so well with one another and go down much smoother than the level of alcohol should allow — dangerously smooth.

Rolling Thunder is certainly one of the more interesting and uniquely flavored barrel-aged stout I’ve ever had. The nose keeps the beers secrets intact long enough for you to bring the glass to your lips and then it hits the tongue — wow. I’m trying to make this one last as long as possible thanks tot he flip-top bottle it’s packaged in. I’m hoping this one makes it to the East Coast as I’d love to set a bottle or two down for a little while in the cellar. It’s a darn good stout.

This is a review of a promotional sample.