Jan 6, 2014

DuClaw Brewing Retribution

There’s nothing like a big, barrel-aged imperial stout to warm the soul on a frigid November evening. And that’s just the type of night that was swirling around outside the house as I enjoyed a bottle of DuClaw Brewing’s Retribution. This 11.5% ABV (and 85 IBU) brew spent six months slumbering in Kentucky white oak bourbon barrels before it’s allowed to see the light of day.

The result of that time in the barrel isn’t so long of a time that the bourbon begins to over power the blend of malt and hops. There’s just the right amount of barrel influence on Retribution to hit every mark that I personally want in a beer of this style. It’s smooth, roasty, lightly boozy, oaky and carries a solid bourbony character. This isn’t a beer for passing fans of either stouts or bourbon. It pack a good amount of flavor into this 22 ounce bottle, but isn’t so dominating as to detract from the overall experience.


Retribution pours opaque black with a dark brown cap of foam that didn’t stick around too long.

DuClaw Retribution photo


Smooth bourbon, wood, roasty char, chocolate, espresso and distant vanilla combine for a decadent nose.


The chocolate and espresso character leads the way as the roasty char, wood and bourbon wash over the tongue smoothly. Hints of vanilla and anise linger in the background as as a moderate amount of bitterness takes you to the lingering and drying finish. There’s a decent bit of malt sweetness present initially, but it’s tempered by the bitterness and alcohol warmth.


I like a good, strong bourbony character to any stout (imperial or otherwise) that’s been barrel-aged like this. DuClaw Retribution packs in a good amount of bourbon and wood that compliments the roasty malt and espresso flavors that are the base of this beer. There is no competition between flavors. Everything is at just the right levels for me personally to make for a stellar drinking experience.

Rating: 4.25/5

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