Today we’re tapping Impish, a beer we lovingly refer to as a baby barrel-aged stout. (“Baby” as in a low ABV, easy-drinking stout. No babies were harmed in the brewing of this beer.)
We love the bold flavors of barrel-aged beers, which often go deep on exotic ingredients like vanillas, chilies, chocolates, coffee, and nuts. But it’s hard to enjoy several of these imperial stouts and not wake up the next day to regret it.
So we wondered: could we approximate the flavors of a bourbon barrel-aged beer in a more sessionable stout? We knew we couldn’t actually barrel-age a 4.5% stout; the risk of infection was too great. But if we couldn’t bring the beer to the barrel, maybe we could bring the barrel to the beer? Into the fermentation tank went Madagascar vanilla bean and toasted coconut, along with American Oak wood. After a couple weeks' work, the trio had imparted that beloved bourbon barrel profile to the beer without the usual wrecking ball ABV.
And thus Impish, an “imperial-ish” stout, was born. An exercise in nuance, subtlety, and deceit—and something you can drink all day while waiting in line for Dark Lord.