Cincinnati’s own Triple Digit Brewing Company is releasing a new beer. Known for their triple digit original gravity beers all clocking in upwards of 10% they are adding to that lineup with Cranium. A bourbon barrel aged imperial oatmeal stout with coffee and vanilla. Suffice to say this beer has a lot going on and a lot going for it! I stopped by Dutch’s Bar, Bottle Shop, and Larder tonight for the draft release party. If you weren’t able to make it then hit up Listermann’s Brewery this Friday (11/8) for the bottle release.
Watching this pour out of the tap was like watching oatmeal be dumped into a bowl. Huge, thick, and almost clumping together. This viscous liquid fills the glass with black tar topped off by a head the color of mud with chunks of dirt sprinkled through it. That may all sound highly unappetizing but I found it tempestuous and it appealed to every concept I have of an imperial oatmeal stout.
My nose was presented with a complex fragrance featuring signs of coffee, bourbon, vanilla, and strangely fruit. I later found out the fruit presence is due to the way the coffee beans are grown, allowing the fruit to ferment and fall away from the bean (or something very close to that, I’d been drinking and the bar was loud while head brewer Kevin Moreland explained this to me).
A delightful medley greats the tongue showcasing a smooth bourbon flavor. The intensity of bourbon is one of my biggest gripes about most bourbon barrel aged beers. It seems many brewers these days rush their production and only let the beers age for a month or two resulting in harsh bourbon flavors which I, personally, do not enjoy. Per head brewer Kevin Moreland this beer sat in barrels for 8 months before having the coffee added. All that time has resulted in a delightfully smooth bourbon flavor. That bourbon is backed up with plenty of roasted coffee, some vanilla, and a touch of fruit that reminds me mostly of blackberries.
The body and mouthfeel on this beer are best summed up as thick and creamy. Again that may sound bad but I mean it in the best ways possible. It feels hearty and good for you, something I plan on convincing myself that it is! Alcohol wise I get a slight touch of heat but nothing to give away the 11.5% power of this monster.
Doing an overall summary on this beer is easy, just BUY IT. But don’t just buy 1, buy 1 for today and buy another to grow – or start – your cellar. This is a fantastic beer tonight and will be great for months and likely years to come. If you don’t love coffee then let it sit for 12 – 18 months and the coffee will fade off. Bottom line though is to pick this up as soon as you can. At $15 it is a bit steep in the past Triple Digit has done a great job of keeping prices low but from what I’ve heard the coffee beans used here were very pricey resulting in the higher cost.