Monday, December 10, 2012

Coney Island Barrel Aged Human Blockhead (2012 edition)

Experienced beer nerds probably have tried imperial bocks at some point, but why aren’t these beers barrel aged? Well now they are, and Coney Island Barrel Aged Human Blockhead is an excellent example of how great a barrel aged lager can be. A beer so good it could single-handedly change the industry.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
Chad9976 (767) - Albany, New York, USA - DEC 10, 2012
I poured a 22oz bomber into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Gorgeous burgundy/cherry red hue with a touch of orange. Forms a surprisingly large, yellowish, frothy head that retains and laces extremely well.

Smell: Almost too many notes to list, but basically a massive sweetness complemented by distinct alcohol presence.

Taste: Though technically a doppelbock, Coney Island Barrel Aged Human Blockhead drinks like a strong English-style barleywine in more ways than one. It has absolutely no qualities to it that you would find in most beers of the sort. Clearly, the bourbon barrels have had a massive affect on the palate here. Much like rare imperial stouts that use the method - the end result is absolutely delicious. To call it a "malt bomb" would be an understatement. This beer almost drinks like a higher end liqueur or spirit.

As soon as it hits the tongue the palate is enveloped in a melange of rich fruit flavors and confectionery sweetness. Cherry, vanilla, caramel, toffee, and butterscotch are all prominent - each individually distinguishable and they all work perfectly with each other. There’s little to no bitterness, though the alcohol is a major player as it imparts flavors of spiced rum and vanilla extract, plus its natural warmth (which is a bonus - not a distraction). I know some people will find this too intense "fresh," and while I’m sure it’ll age gracefully, I think it’s fantastic right off the shelf. Though it carries a high price tag, it’s still a good deal.

Drinkability: If I had to find a flaw with Coney Island Barrel Aged Human Blockhead it would be the fact it’s an absolute sipper. This isn’t surprising consider it’s a hefty brew at 10.83% ABV, though I’d attribute the low drinkability more to the robustness of the palate rather than the alcohol (which has a gentle, but firm, warmth rather than a raw burn). The mouthfeel itself is soft and comfortable. It’s a noticeably thick brew for sure, leaving a slightly bitter/slightly syrupy aftertaste, but it goes down remarkably smooth. Be sure to split a bottle with someone who deserves it on a special occasion.
 Grade: 10/10

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