Friday, 20 March 2015

Weendigo Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout

Inside a wax-topped 500mL bottle that invites it's drinker to "taste the way less travelled" lives Weendigo Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout. A deep, dark, foreboding brew, Weendigo is an almost black ale. At 10.2% alcohol, it has heft to spare, and it pours with a determined and unyielding tan head. A product of London, Ontario, Weendigo is the product of the Forked River Brewing Company.

For such a powerful ale, Weendigo has a shockingly mellow, subtle aroma. It's nose is malty, tinged with woody vanilla, mocha, and molasses. These elements are duplicated in flavour form--malt is the driving force, with a sensual kiss of oak. Toward the finish, espresso bitterness demurely winks, alongside a shy but heavy hops profile. Again, for such a potent ale, it is almost mild and pleasingly smooth. As it warms, a bit more depth is revealed, with leathery notes becoming more evident. Also, its boozy warmth, evident from the get go, reaches new heights toward a pint's midpoint. It's a sleeper.

While I really enjoyed Weendigo Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, it has a real failing that is worthy of mention. Most barrel-aged beers scream their origin from the rooftops. They're aged in oak casks. They're bourbon barrel-aged. They're lovingly born of port vessels. This is a characterization that I expect and enjoy. Weendigo's packaging doesn't give any indication of its barrel stats--neither wood nor previous inhabitant. It took a visit to the Forked River website to learn that this ale was aged in barrels that once housed Jack Daniels. I'd guess oak. Too much work. That should be spelled out plainly. Otherwise, it's a splendid brew. A bit light on flavour and aroma, I was left a tad underwhelmed, but still engaged and enthusiastic. Should you acquire a bottle or two? Absolutely! Will it blow your mind? Perhaps not, though it will warm and mellow it. Will it satisfy? Easily.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

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