Nick Carr on September 3, 2017 0 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery Odell Brewing Co. Location Fort Collins, CO Style Imperial Stout ABV 13.3% IBU 45 Hops ? Malts ? Other Aged in Rum Barrels Shelf Life Years. Many years. Suggested Glass Snifter Serving Temp 50-55°F Availability Limited Food Pairings Hearty beef stew, Steak with a plum reduction sauce, Stilton blue cheese, Vanilla chocolate cake I have to say, I love the ongoing popularity barrel-aged beers are enjoying. For me, Sippers, those high alcohol, full-bodied, complex wonders — meant to be enjoyed slowly over an extended period of time — are maybe, dare I say it… one of my favorite categories in the craft beer world; and there is little more fitting to the sipping than those beers that have spent time in a barrel. These days you can find beer aged in barrels that previously held a diverse range of liquors, fermentations, and sugars. Whiskey barrels are probably the most widespread vessel used, with bourbon being the most common, followed by scotch and rye. Other, less common barrel aging platforms include rum, tequila, port, and Madeira. In the ongoing search to experiment, even more unusual barrels have been used including gin — liquor not usually aged in barrels — and Odell has even aged a porter in Fernet casks — a liquor that includes herbs like honeysuckle, bitter aloe, dandelion root, and lavender. Some barrels have even held two or more concoctions before being pressed into service by the craft beer industry. The barrels used by Founders for their Frootwood ale held both bourbon and maple syrup before being used for this very unique beer. Barrel aging has become such an overwhelming presence in craft brewing that distilleries have even begun to reverse the cycle. That is, bring barrels used in aging beer back to the distillery to age bourbon and some other liquor types, giving them the characteristic of whatever beer was aged within. Thus, it is now possible to find Bourbon aged in stout barrels. I’ve never tried it, but I am intrigued. With its Jolly Russian Stout, Odell has twisted a Russian stout into the life of a pirate by housing it in rum barrels. An interesting marriage and one I’m excited to try. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Odell’s Jolly Russian. If you’ve tasted this beer or have one in front of you now, please share your own tasting notes and review with everyone down in the comments below. Pour and Aroma: This one’s black; no moon or stars leak through to warn of what’s coming. A small dark tan head struggles above the sucking 13.3% pull; like a stowaway carefully peeking out of the cargo hold. With each tip and resettle of the glass the liquid leaves a series of viscous slow-crawling legs slinking back to the surface. On the nose it’s a bit hot with alcohol. Underneath the alcohol, molasses and brunt caramel, along with slight rum and low dark fruitiness. Overall it is a quite pleasant. Mouthfeel and Taste: Body is lush and full. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with a viscous draw down the palate. Rum peaks around, but remains subtle. Alcohol character isn’t quite as strong as the aroma would have you believe, though it still has a punch. Some vanilla notes, coffee and bittersweet chocolate. Slight burnt-malt character. Whispers of dark fruit, something like burnt-plum. Dark caramel notes. Big dark malt at the front of the palate with a light rumminess working in amidships, the alcohol rises stiff at the back before sinking away on the swallow leaving behind a lightly bitter, hugely dark memory of the Jolly Russian’s passing. FINISHING THOUGHTS This is a pretty decadent beer. A sipper for sure, showing a little too much heat; bringing to mind scallywags, swashbuckling, and dark-hearted deeds. No doubt the name nudges the mind down these pathways. And maybe that’s the way this one should be enjoyed; with the fire of youthful alcohol helping the experience along. But I can’t help wondering what a little more age might bring to the experience. Instead of a bellicose, brash youngster’s tale, might we get the same great stories but seasoned by years; mellowed, the harsh corners of a youth’s adventures rounded by the lens of age. This may be one to put away in your treasure chest for a couple more years. Or, better yet buy two bottles, and give yourself the opportunity to experience and compare both the rabble-rousing tale and the measured yarn. Cheers!