This isn’t the first beer we picked up from Strong Arm Brewing to review, but it cut in line in front of the Denunciation Triple IPA that we bought earlier. We were looking for sweet more than bitter tonight, and we definitely found it in this bottle of Whiskey Barrel Aged Imperial Cherry Chocolate Porter (which is probably the longest beer name I have ever typed, BTW).
As long as that name is, the more I broke it down the more I wanted to drink it:
Whiskey Barrel Aged = Expectations of oak and whiskey notes…yes please.
Imperial = Higher ABV percentage…yes please.
Cherry = Yum…yes please.
Chocolate = Yum…yes please.
Porter = I am on a Stout/Porter kick at the moment…yes please.
Upon pouring it, the first thing I smelled was whiskey. Behind that I clearly smelled the chocolate and cherry. These wonderful scents only served to further elevate my high expectations, and I think that is why my first taste impression wasn’t as glorious as I had hoped it would be. There was so much anticipation that the reality simply could not match the build-up. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted great straight out of the refrigerator…just not “angels singing” great.
However, just as flowers open up in the sunshine to reveal their true beauty, I find that many beers “open up” as they are allowed to warm. It is as though the cold locks in the flavors and they are revealed only as the temperature increases. This is one beer that definitely should not be served anywhere near ice cold. Once mine warmed up a bit, I could likewise hear the angels warming up and getting in tune. The whiskey, chocolate and cherry scents that teased me when I first poured it were now joined by amazing whiskey, chocolate and cherry flavors. Those three main components worked in harmony, and none overpowered the other. I was able to concentrate on and enjoy each one in turn, yet together. It is hard to explain that sensation, but you know how strawberry, chocolate and vanilla ice creams all work together to make a great banana split? It was a lot like that.
Another thing I really enjoyed with this beer was the warmth I felt on the back of my tongue as I swallowed each sip. It was like the burn one feels from hard liquor, only much less so. The bottle lists this at 8.5% ABV, but that is what I heard their non-barrel aged version of this weighs in at. The whiskey barrel aging combined with that little burn makes me suspect it is a little higher than what the label states.
All in all, I really enjoyed this Strong Arm offering and gave it a solid 4 caps in Untappd.
I think my first response to Ray after tasting this was “Wow, this is good!”
A lot of porters advertise as being “chocolate” porters, but they taste more bitter like coffee. There was actually no discernible taste of coffee to me. This porter actually tastes like chocolate. And cherries. With a warm alcohol finish.
This was definitely a “sipping” beer, as I enjoyed the glass that Ray poured for me for quite awhile. I can see this going well with a chocolate or banana dessert (Bananas Foster?).
As Ray said, the more it came to room temperature, the more it opened up. The chocolate/cherry/whiskey taste was amazing.
Overall – loved it. I was very glad to taste a real chocolate porter, and love that it was from one of our favorite small craft breweries. According to the brewery’s Facebook page, there’s a limited run of this heavenly brew. I plan to grab another bottle if I can.