Stone Brewing Stygian Descent
Stygian Descent was first created back in 2013 when Stone Brewing took their Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA and aged it in rye whiskey barrels. In 2016, the brewery upped the ante a bit with the barrels employed in this big beer’s maturation. This time around the base brew rested for five months in Templeton Rye Whiskey Barrels, as well as Kentucky bourbon barrels (which brand, I do not know). All I know is that while the company’s black IPA has changed a bit through the years, it’s always been hop-forward and the barrel influence here only improves upon it.
The aroma on Stygian Descent is wonderfully decadent as those rye whiskey traits waft from the surface of the appropriately named black brew. Bourbon, whiskey and old wood dominate the nose while soft pine and citrus linger in the background. And while that aroma is damn impressive, the flavor, however fails to match expectations. Yes, Stygian Descent is a tasty beer, but when comparing the flavor to the smell of this beer, it’s no comparison.
The roastiness of the base black IPA is much stronger than expected here. I had hoped that it would have mellowed a touch during its time in the barrels, but nope. The rye and bourbon are present, but they step into the shadows, allowing the roast and solid amount of hoppy pine to take over the spotlight as an equal measure of bitterness and sweetness battle one another on the way to the warming finish.
Stygian Descent is a uniquely flavored beer. I was expecting more barrel than that which I found. The hop profile is incredibly strong here, but I suppose that’s to be expected from Stone as well as the shorter time the beer spent in the wood in comparison to other barrel-aged products. The encounter was unexpected to be sure, but this big beer is still darn tasty and something I wouldn’t mind taking on again in the future.
A dense and creamy cap of light brown foam falls slowly to patch surface cover. I wouldn't say that this brew looks stygian in color unless the River Styx looks more like the Potomac River murky and unsettling.