Left Hand Barrel-Aged Wake Up Dead Russian Imperial Stout

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Rating: 2.7/5 (3 votes cast)

Beer Profile

  • Brewery: Left Hand Brewing Company
  • Website: lefthandbrewing.com
  • Country: United States
  • State: Colorado
  • Style: Russian Imperial Stout
  • Malts:
  • Hops:
  • ABV: 10.2%
  • IBUs:
  • Tasting Notes:
  • Preferred Glass: Snifter
  • Food Pairing:
  • PHM Grade: C-

Left Hand Barrel-Aged Wake Up Dead Russian Imperial Stout

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Michael: Recently, I’ve been swept up in the tide of beer lovers seeking anything ‘barrel-aged.’ Admittedly, I was suckered into this one when my beer-of-the-week email from my local liquor store.

Coming straight out of the 22 ounce bottle into my snifter, it seemed, for a stout, to be a surprisingly pale brown. I’ve gotten used to the pitch black, oil-like stouts where darker is better and this one looked almost like root beer. However, when the pour settled into one big mass, the darkness of stout was present in spades, a strange transition over just a few seconds. A beautiful black-like, there what appeared to be purplish tones around the edges. There was practically no head, the thin layer of wispy foam a light ecru.

On the nose there was an unbelievably pleasant sweet smell of vanilla, mingled with lightly roasted coffee notes. The smell was inviting, soft and seemed to tell of a velvety drink, going down smooth and subtle. Instead, the first sip was harsh, a burning black licorice that hung on through the swallow and far into the finish. The expectant smoothness was average at best, with a long lasting alcoholic burn. Trailing the licorice was a faint soy sauce tang, that coated at the very finish, muted a bit by a dry burnt lasting through to a sweet, alcoholic linger. As it warmed, overly sweet cherries revealed themselves at the outset and a woody, bark-like hops presence was seen mingled with all of the other finishing elements.

This year, I’ve been spoiled by too many great barrel aged brews, especially stouts. This one from Left Hand, a brewer I have most definitely enjoyed in the past, was a letdown. Grade: C+

Tom: I appreciate Left Hand products and find their beers to be very solid, but this beer found me wishing I’d stay dead. In my opinion, this brew is NOT an imperial stout.  It is closer to a very rich brown ale that was lightly aged on oak chips. There are no highly astringent burnt malt notes and the bitterness that is often associated with them.  The abv seems very low and does not pack a punch (which might be preferable for some). There is a nice vanilla, oakiness going on, but it is layered over a sweet, lighter-than-a-stout mouthfeel. A very toasty/caramel brew with brown sugar flavors and the appearance is that of a light porter. I drank the entire bomber in under 20 mins while watching an episode of Community. Pretty sure imperial stouts are meant to be nursed over a good amount of time.  The only thing imperially menacing about this was the label.  Based on the style this falls short. Grade: D+

Left Hand Barrel-Aged Wake Up Dead Russian Imperial Stout, 2.7 out of 5 based on 3 ratings
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