I don’t know much, but I do know that more is always better. More passion. More respect. More gratitude. More empathy. More money. More calories. More alcohol. More weight gain. Not just tension, more tension, hypertension. More cholesterol. More world domination.
Alright, I seem to have gotten turned around here. Some of those… aren’t better. Like I said, I don’t know much, and there’s a reason why, when you google the phrase “more is always better”, you get an endless stream of results about how more is NOT always better.
When it comes to beer, I feel like we’ve been down this road a million times. More hops isn’t necessarily better. More alcohol isn’t necessarily better. And so on. But I will say this: more is often pretty damn interesting, even if it might not be better (and sometimes, you know, it is better). So when I saw this quadruple barrel-aged stout, meaning that the beer went through successive aging in four different sets of barrels, I felt like I had to give it a try.
Lord knows I love barrel-aged beer, and as fancy beer trends continue to evolve, the barrels get swankier, the aging goes longer, and yes, the notion of successive barrel aging has become much more common. There are now tons of “double barrel-aged” beers out there, and yes, they’re often pretty fantastic. Much more rare are the “triple barrel-aged” beers, but they exist. I don’t know who first crossed the quadrupel barrel-aged Rubicon, but this 11th Anniversary offering from Denver, Colorado’s River North Brewery is my first example. I enjoy River North’s wide variety of barrel-aged brews (they do a lot of this sort of thing), though I’m rarely blown away by them. How will this one fare? Is more better? Honestly? I’m not sure, but it’s a fascinating beer!
River North Anniversary 11 – Quadruple Barrel Aged Stout – Aged in Colorado whiskey barrels, then Kentucky straight bourbon barrels, followed by Colorado bourbon barrels, and finished in Colorado single malt whiskey barrels. Pours an extremely dark brown color, almost black, with just a cap of short lived brown head that quickly resolves to a ring around the edge of the glass… which, by the way, has developed “legs” as befits the 23% ABV. Smells very boozy, tons of whisky and oak, with rich caramel, a bit of vanilla, and just the faintest hint of toast. Taste starts very sweet, hits a big, hot, boozy note, moving into some of that stout base, followed by a reprise of sweet, tingly booze in the finish. Mouthfeel is full bodied but not insanely so, moderate to low carbonation (which fits well), an interestingly unique sorta viscosity that’s hard to describe (not thin, but not as thicc as you’d expect either), extremely hot booze character but not as harsh as some things I’ve had that aren’t as strong. Lots of reviews seem to indicate that they can’t tell it’s that high of an ABV, but I feel like it’s pretty obvious. It’s not bad or anything, and indeed, I think it’s pretty great. Overall, it’s quite intense and downright unique – I’ve never had anything quite like this. This is partly the treatment (the only quadruple barrel aged beer I’ve ever seen/had yet), and maybe even due to the choice of barrels (Colorado Single Malt Whiskey, etc…) Worth checking out, but obviously not an everyday treatment. A-
Beer Nerd Details: 23.1% ABV bottled (375 ml capped and waxed). Drank out of a snifter on 4/14/23. Vintage 2023.
Lately, River North has been putting out a lot of well-regarding Double Barrel versions of their lineup, and I’m looking forward to trying a few of those (I seem to have missed out on the DB Father Time, which was the one I would most look forward to, but I’ve managed a few others).