The last supremely delicious, labour-intensive, long-time-to-make, well-worth-the-effort Barrel Aged Imperial Stout of 2022 is upon us. Like many of these endeavours, this journey began with a top notch Imperial Stout that then made its way into barrels. Though we often choose these vessels based on what alcohol they previously housed (bourbon, cognac, rum, etc.), this time we sourced three new oak barrels. These had yet to be used to age liquor and their wood was therefore completely unhaunted by the ghosts of spirits past.
The three barrels we selected each had a different toast profile, which is the degree to which the oak staves that go on to make up a barrel were carefully fired by the cooper. We filled a light, medium and heavily toasted barrel with Imperial Stout, kept a patient eye on the trio for 17 months, blended them together and — bam! — Fireplace Channel was born.
So, what’s it like already, you ask? Aromas of smokey burnt sugar open up to cherry and red liquorice, all of which are present in the first sip, along with notes of Spanish sweet sherry and Liquorice Allsorts. Finishes smooth and relatively quick for a stout of this size thanks to the drying tannins the new oak. In summation, it's a complex and delicious expression of oak barrel aging uninhibited by the influence of spirits.