Solstice Stout, Kuhnhenn Brewing Company Also...Bourbon Barrel Aged American Stout and some talk of druids.

Kuhnhenn Solstice Stout and Bourbon Barrel Aged American Stout

(C) 2017 popsonhops

Early man lived by the cycle of the seasons. They marked time through the position of the sun and other celestial bodies. Stone circles like Stonehenge acted as seasonal clocks marking the positions of the sun on days of significance. The summer and winter solstice were particularly important because it signaled the beginning of the ascent or descent of daylight hours.

The solstice was celebrated by pagan cultures for centuries. These celebrations are often connected to a mysterious group known as druids. Druids were said to be Celts from areas of what is modern day France and Great Britain. They were thought to be the communal repository of the wisdoms of the age. They were philosophers, teachers, priests and they were present throughout Europe. However, most of what we know about druids is very clouded. Julius Caeser noted that the druids preferred oral teachings versus written teachings so, it may be that we may never know more than we do today.

While druids are often connected to Stonehenge, written records show the first evidence of druidism comes more than two-thousand years after the construction of the ancient site. After a couple thousand years of existence, druidism was ultimately overshadowed by Christianity and pretty much disappeared in about the 9th century. I recall reading that December 25th was chosen by early Christians as the date for Christmas in order to overshadow the pagan winter solstice celebrations.

Solstice Stout
Tasting: October 6, 2017
Style: American Strong Ale
ABV: 16%
Beer #: 1,098

Solstice Stout is a blend of Kuhnhenn’s Fourth Dementia (4D) 96 points and Solar Eclipse (sorry haven’t had this one) that is further aged for three years. This is the 2014 release, so it was originally brewed and blended six years ago. While the name of this beer suggests a stout, this is more like a strong ale. The pour is cola brown and very still. I get massive flavors of molasses, raisin, cherry, fudge and sherry. A tad bit hot but not surprising for a whopping 16% ABV. Solstice Stout is absolutely delicious. 96 points.

Bourbon Barrel Aged American Imperial Stout
Tasting: September 30, 2017
Style: American Imperial Stout
ABV: 12.9%
Beer #: 1,099

This stout is aged in used bourbon barrels for two years. This happens to be a bottle from 2014, so this stout was originally brewed more than five years ago. Not to worry as the ABV is a robust 12.9% and should have matured nicely. However, I would say we’re running out of time.

Any of the advertised coffee flavor has disappeared. I get sherry, rich raisin, some damp wood. After five years, it’s still a tad boozy and astringent. Has some fudge and a very nice syrupy mouthfeel. Considering the pros and cons, I’ll still put Bourbon Barrel Aged American Imperial Stout at 92 points.

Visit the brewery website

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Huge Arker Russian Imperial Stout, Anderson Valley At 13.5% this is a huge arker, ask anyone in Booneville.

Huge Arker

(C) 2017 popsonhops

Okay, what the hell is an Arker?
Check Meriam Websters…no luck, no such word.
Scrabble dictionary?…no luck, no double word points for you.
Check the Boontling dictionary?…uh-yeah, there it is.

Arker: verb (ar-ker) coming from the word ark which means to wreck something. It’s not a bowgley ( a whopper of a lie).

What the hell am I talking about? It seems my serendipitous beer journey has caused me to stumble across an archaic dialect that is native only to the town of Boonville, California. No surprise that Boonville is also the home of Anderson Valley Brewing. It only seems right that Anderson Valley honors their local heritage by naming this robust stout Huge Arker.

Boontling

As the legend goes the dialect was invented in 1890 by the youth of the community as a means to communicate so the elders wouldn’t understand. Kind of like today’s text jargon…#IHNI. According to legend, it was Ed “Squirrel” Clement and Lank McGimsey that developed Boontling and today there are fewer than 100 people in Boonville that still speak Boontling. Check out the link below as the dialect is quite extensive and entertaining.

The label also notes that they’ve been Bahl Hornin’ since 1987. That’s good drinking (or alternative to saying cheers).

Well, that was a fun side trip. Now onto the Huge Arker or huge wrecker.

Tasting: June 28, 2017
Style: Russian Imperial Stout aged in used Wild Turkey bourbon barrels
Beer #: 1,075
ABV: 13.5%

Huge Arker

Looks thin on the pour and not so opaque. My criticism ends there. This is a nice stout. Sweet molasses, some earthy peat, vanilla. Nice soft edges for a 13.5% monster. Although thin, the mouthfeel is sticky almost Bill Nunn (sorry, last Boontling reference – means syrup). This bottle is from 2014 and I’m guessing age seems to have served it well. 92 points.

Read more about the Boontling Dialect

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Barrel Aged Ten Fidy by Oskar Blues

Stovepipe Can (19.2 oz.) of Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy by Oskar Blues, Longmont, Colorado

(C) 2016 popsonhops

Tasting: December 3, 2014
Style: Barrel-Aged Stout
Beer #: 1,026
ABV: 12.9%

Barrel Aged Ten Fidy

Seems like I shouldn’t be surprised when it comes to beer prices. Yet, the price of this barrel-aged version of Ten Fidy caught me off guard. When the clerk told me there was a limit of four, the old me almost blurted out “I’ll take four.” Because I’m on a budget these days, the new me sensibly asked the price. At $12 each, I compromised with my old self and left the store with two.

These are called stove pipe cans and this is the first one I’ve seen. I can’t think of anyone else using this format but I like it. They check in at a whopping 19.2 ounces and at first glance hard to differentiate it from a 16 ounce can. Thought the alcohol by volume is 10.5% since that is the source of the name but that was another surprise.

Someone made the suggestion to come to my conclusion up front and then validate the reasons. That feels a little weird. In conclusion, Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy gets 97 points. To validate, Barrel Aged Ten Fidy is a massive beer with unbelievable complexity and balance. Seems like they’ve fired on all cylinders with a nice melding of rich chocolate, vanilla, oak, raisin and a slightly warming alcohol. Mouthfeel is perfect and sticky. I wish I bought four.

I wrote about Ten Fidy five years ago. Here are my Thoughts on the Original Ten Fidy

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Bourbon Barrel Aged Tres Blueberry by Dark Horse Brewing

Bourbon Barrel Aged Tres Blueberry Stout by Dark Horse Brewing Company, Marshall, Michigan

(C) 2016 popsonhops

Tasting: May 14, 2016
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout (fruit added)
Beer #: 937
ABV: 7.5%

Bourbon Barrel Aged Tres Blueberry

Each year, Dark Horse Brewing of Marshall, Michigan releases (in order) five stouts:

Dark Horse: One Oatmeal, Too Cream, Tres Blueberry, Fore Smoked and Plead the 5th

At the brewery’s annual 4 Elf festival, they release a barrel-aged version of Plead the 5th as well as some other “brewery only” goodies. This wax-dipped bottle was part of the 2015 4 Elf Festival and came as a bonus beer. In fact, my trade partner sent two bottles. Plead the 5th was my favorite of the five. While the blueberry influence was artificial in Tres Blueberry, it was interesting. I’m excited to see what influence a bourbon barrel will have on this stout.

Frankly, I don’t get much in the way of a barrel influence. Not surprised that the blueberry remains more of a lab created essence than real fruit. I really don’t see any difference with this and the base version so, I’ll peg Bourbon Barrel Aged Tres Blueberry at the same 87 points.

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