One look at this rather sinister-looking bottle, and we expected something so dark and bitter that we'd want to crawl under the covers until springtime. What we found instead was a surprisingly complex beer full of wine-like fruit flavors and a swirl of dark molasses. It made our eyes pop open and our toes tingle, something we like very much indeed!
Beer Details: Wake Up Dead from Left Hand Brewing Company, Longmont, Colorado (Barrel-aged imperial stout, 10.2% ABV)
Appearance: Midnight black and completely opaque with a thin blanket of cappuccino-esque foam.
Aroma: Strong and heady alcohol vapors over the glass. An aroma like black raisins macerating in brandy, clear evidence of this beer's time in the barrel.
Taste: There's an initial mishmash of dark Morello cherries, burnt raisins, and black licorice, but then things start to soften and mellow out. Dark toffee and chewy treacle flavors roll across the tongue, ending with herbal and peppery notes. There are some burnt flavors around the edges - not exactly smoky, but more like charcoal. It's soft and smooth without being syrupy, and the alcohol has just enough presence to warm the throat.
This beer is as deep and moody as a glass of wine. When we first heard that it had been aged in old brandy barrels, we were very curious how all the flavors would play out. Left Hand has done a nice job of keeping the fruity brandy flavors balanced with the dark bitterness of the imperial stout, making this an excellent sipping beer.
Food Pairings: This is a great beer to have with dinner and then continue sipping into dessert. We had it with seared pepper steak and roasted Brussels sprouts with a flourless chocolate torte for dessert.
This limited-edition barrel-aged imperial stout from Left Hand Brewing Company won't be around for long. If you see a bottle, it's definitely worth grabbing it up.
Have any of you tried this beer yet?
(Image: Emma Christensen)