Well, it’s been months since I last posted a beer review. That’s because I haven’t been drinking beer . . . NOT!! Sorry it’s been so long – life just kinda got in the way – but I’m going to remedy that right now. Here are two delicious dark beers to look forward to this winter (if you can find them). Please read responsibly!
Big Bad Baptista: Epic Brewing Co., Salt Lake City, UT. 10.2% ABV.
Epic Brewing releases Big Bad Baptista on a limited basis each year. It’s their whiskey barrel aged take on Mexican coffee – Epic’s Big Bad Baptist with coffee, cacao and cinnamon. This review is based on their 2018 release (22 oz. bomber).
Big Bad Baptista pours black with a ¼” cocoa colored head that lasts for about a minute before fading to a thin ring. The aroma is sweet chocolate and vanilla. BBB tastes like chocolate, cinnamon and a little bit of coffee. This fades to semi-sweet chocolate, then to chocolate with cinnamon, which linger in the aftertaste forever. No alcohol flavor is noted, nor is the whiskey barrel noticed in the aroma or flavor.
The body is thick, with a velvety smooth mouth feel. The carbonation level is low, as is to be expected with a huge Imperial Stout like this.
As BBB warms, the whiskey becomes noticeable, yet remains faint, mid-palate and in the aftertaste. In addition, the cinnamon flavor increases, especially late on the palate and in the aftertaste.
Big Bad Baptista is excellent – it’s so flavorful, way beyond a regular Imperial Stout. It is similar to Stone Brewing Xocoveza (Mexican hot chocolate), but deeper and more complex. The coffee and whiskey, along with the thick body, add a lot to the BBB vs. Xocoveza.
T.O.R.I.S The Tyrant: Hoppin’ Frog Brewing Co., Akron, OH. 13.8% ABV.
T.O.R.I.S. = Triple Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout. I hardly know where to start with this beer. It’s so big, so decadent . . . and so hard to come by. I’ve read about this beer before, but never thought I would ever have occasion to taste it. Read this review carefully, because this may be your only chance to “taste” TORIS – it’s not distributed west of Illinois (I admonish you once again, PLEASE read responsibly!!).
TORIS pours pitch black, like extremely used motor oil, with a ¼” cocoa head that takes a while to develop but lasts for a couple of minutes before fading to a very thin ring around the perimeter, with an ever-so-thin covering. The aroma is sweet: caramel, chocolate, vanilla and caramelized sugar.
Now it’s time to buckle your seatbelt – let’s talk about the flavor. Wow! Intense semi-sweet chocolate and roasty, with notes of vanilla, dark fruit, soy sauce, and raisin. These flavors fade to STRONG semi-sweet chocolate with extreme roasty notes and bitterness. For such a high alcohol beer, alcohol is not noted in the flavor, but it produces a very obvious warming sensation on the back of the throat. The aftertaste is like having a piece of dark chocolate stuck in your throat (I mean that in a good way).
The carbonation level is low, and the body is quite thick and chewy (think 90 wt. gear oil). The mouth feel is thick, slick and silky smooth. There is just enough carbonation to give a slight burn on the tongue (late, after swallowing).
As TORIS warms, the flavors change and intensify, especially the dark/semi-sweet chocolate. It’s like drinking a solid dark chocolate candy bar. The sweetness (vanilla, dark fruit) increases initially, but the dark chocolate takes over late on the palate and remains very strong in the lingering aftertaste. In the aroma, the sweet fruity notes increase, and the alcohol becomes noticeable. At no time, however, is alcohol detected in the flavor (nor is coffee, which is normally prevalent in big stouts).
T.O.R.I.S. The Tyrant is not easy to drink BUT is well worth the effort! I strongly advise you to get your affairs in order before you tackle a bomber of this. It’s an awesome beer, very solid, and definitely not for sissies. Talk about a beer that gets you where you want to go – I was buzzed half-way through a tulip glass of it (8 oz.?). TORIS is rich and decadent with a lot of sweetness, but bitterness is prevalent to balance it out and keep it from being syrupy/cloying.
I hope you enjoyed drinking my description of this Tyrant, because it’s unlikely you will find it at a liquor store or bar near you (at least, not on the West Coast). Of course, you’re all wondering how Mac scored a bottle of this elixir. Pure luck is the answer. In late May (2019) I hosted a Brew & Brats bottle share in my back yard that was attended by about 40 men. Someone brought T.O.R.I.S. The Tyrant to share, but didn’t end up serving it to the other men at his table, and left it behind at the end of the evening. After everyone left, I found this treasure and made every effort to return it to its owner (yeah, after elephants flew out of my butt). I hung on to it for a few months, but could no longer resist the siren song, so I opened it and enjoyed it on a memorable Sunday afternoon.
I never found out who left this bomber of T.O.R.I.S. The Tyrant at Mac’s Brew Pub, but I can only assume it was ordained by God. Lord, bless that man.
That’s all I have time for now. If I don’t post anything further before the holidays, let me say to each of you, “Merry Christmas from Mac’s Brew!”