Thursday, April 6, 2017

Barrel Aged Butcher and Brewer

It has been more than a year since I did a beer or wine review.  The reason is simple.  I was posting fewer and fewer recipes due to the lack of time that I had to write the posts.  I was also cooking less for a period of time, but I was still having a beer or a glass of wine.  I did not want Chef Bolek to become a beer or wine blog.  So, I decided to hold off on any further beer or wine reviews until I started cooking more and started posting more.  

Well, I am cooking more, but not posting more.  Nevertheless, I realized that a total hiatus of beer and wine reviews may not be a good thing.  This is particularly true when it comes to beers or wines I may never find again. i come across some beers and wine by happenstance.  One of those beers was the Big Belgo Bourbon Stout from Butcher and Brewer.

I was in Cleveland for a while about a year ago when I was in a local grocery store that just happens to have a large beer selection.  While I was perusing the beers, I came across one bottle of one beer that stuck out.  It was sandwiched between multiple selections from other breweries.  Just one beer.  For one brewer.  And it was a brewer that I had never heard of before. 

For those who know me, the name is something that naturally caught my attention.  Butcher and Brewer.  It is a local restaurant, market and brewery located in downtown Cleveland.  Its menu offers a range of cured meats and cheeses, along with small and big plates.  As for the beers, the Cleveland Brewing Company provides the brews, which run the gamut of styles.

The Big Belgo Bourbon Stout is a "Belgian-Russian" Imperial Stout that is aged in bourbon barrels.  I am not quite sure what is a "Belgian-Russian" Imperial Stout.  While the Belgians brew a variety of dark strong ales, I am not sure there is a history of Belgians brewing Russian Imperial Stouts (as that style originated in England). 

Nevertheless, this Belgo Bourbon Stout makes one forget about history and classification.The beer pours a pitch black, as one would expect a Russian Imperial Stout.  A thin foam builds up and quickly recedes to reveal the beautiful blackness beneath.  The aromatic elements of the beer feature the bourbon up front.  The mellow tones of the bourbon greet the nostrils, followed by a slight oak of the barrels and a little of the yeast.  As for the taste, it is first and foremost bourbon whisky.  The bourbon is such the star that it shines over the other elements, such as the yeast and malts.  Those back-up elements are there.  A slight note of coffee or chocolate lingers in the background.   I would have liked to have tasted a little more of the malt, but it could not make its way out of the bourbon.  

Overall, this is a very good beer. As it turns out, this is not the first Belgo-Russian Imperial Stout that I have tried.  (I previously reviewed an offering from Stone.)  While I have grown to like the taste of bourbon in a stout, the strong bourbon presence makes this a definite sipping beer.  One that can be enjoyed while writing a review about it.  The beer definitely makes me want to return to Cleveland, and, check out the Butcher and Brewer in person.  If the beer is this good, I can only think of how good the charcuterie could be....


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