Depth Charged Double Bastard Ale & 2015 Barrel Aged Narwhal


Mac’s Brew Pub is out of Mac’s Brew, so I’m drinking a variety of high quality commercial beers (refer to the upcoming newsletter for the lame excuse as to why I’m out of Mac’s Brew).  Here are reviews of a couple limited release beers I recently sampled.  Please read responsibly.

2015 Depth Charged Double Bastard Ale: Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA.  11% ABV.
This is Stone’s Double Bastard Ale brewed with espresso coffee beans.  I have never posted a review of Stone’s Double Bastard Ale, but let me give you just a brief description: it’s a huge malty and hoppy extreme version of Arrogant Bastard Ale that is very high in alcohol; it’s not for the faint of heart.  Depth Charged Double Bastard is a more balanced version of the original, owing to the coffee addition.  Let me explain.

Depth Charged pours a deep amber color, very clear, with a slight head, beige in color, that rapidly fades to just a ring around the perimeter of the beer.  The aroma is sweet and malty, with strong coffee and some caramel notes.  The flavor is smooth with Double Bastard caramel maltiness and a bit of coffee.  The coffee flavor is subtle, but knocks down the over-the-top bittersweet Double Bastard malty/hoppy flavor. There are nice coffee, chocolate and caramel notes in the aftertaste.  This beer has a heavy body with a thick creamy mouthfeel, and goes down very smooth.  The carbonation level is good, but not high, and keeps it from being too heavy and syrupy.  As this beer warms, the coffee shines through brighter, making it even nicer.

In my opinion, Depth Charged is much more drinkable than Double Bastard, as the smack in the mouth bittersweet heavy flavor is mitigated by the espresso.  This is much more balanced (bitterness/sweetness) than the original as it is a bit more bitter than Double Bastard, and is more mellow.  The alcohol level, at 11%, is high, but it’s not at all boozy.

Good job, Stone.  This beer is very complex and enjoyable.  It’s really an amazing, fantastic beer.  You gotta taste it to appreciate it’s depth.  Unfortunately, it was brewed only once, so if you want some, you better look for it right away.  My sample was a 22 oz. bomber, which was part of a 4 bottle “Bastard Box” I purchased at Costco for $19.99.  I HIGHLY recommend this beer, and hope Stone will continue this along with their annual Double Bastard release!

2015 Barrel-Aged Narwhal: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA.  12.9% ABV.
Barrel-Aged Narwhal is an imperial stout.  It pours midnight black with a 1/2″ tan head that fades after a couple of minutes, leaving a tan ring around the edge.  The aroma is sweet chocolate and vanilla.  The flavor initially follows the nose – sweet chocolate – then a transitions to slight bitterness, with coconut and vanilla from the bourbon barrel aging.  The carbonation is evident mid-pallate, but not late, and it does not clear the sweet chocolate flavor.  It is a little boozy from mid-palate on, but not hot or unpleasant.  The aftertaste is sweet chocolate, which fades to a slight and pleasant bitterness.

This is a very good beer.  It’s a limited edition brew, so you better get it soon if you’re inclined to drink some.  I bought a 750 ml bottle from Total Wine for $18.99 (as I recall).  I highly recommend this one; it was worth the cost, but I won’t be buying another bottle this year (pretty expensive).

So, the bottom line is this: I highly recommend both of these beers, but especially the Depth Charged Double Bastard Ale.  You won’t be disappointed with either beer (caveat: fizzy yellow beer drinkers – don’t bother; you won’t like either one).