Behind The Booze:
Another beer to come out of a place very near and dear to my heart – St. Louis, Missouri. The 4 Hands Brewery is located just south of Busch Stadium ( South 8th St ) yet has perfected the ‘hidden in plain sight’ location. For years I have gotten off at the exit that literally is a straight shot from the highway, driven past it to friends houses or ball games and even had done a U-turn in the parking lot, looking for the damn brewery itself! The brewery is located in the Lasalle Park neighborhood and sports one of the largest and most diverse portfolios in the area while only maintaining 4 ‘year-round’ brews to choose from – but their seasonal beers is where all the hype is! 20,000 square feet with 3,000 of that specifically designated as a barrel aging portion of the facility utilizing barrels from whiskey to wine. It has been rumored that they are also creating a sour program that will take center stage summer of 2015.
Bona Fide Imperial Stout comes to us as a collaborative effort from Goshen Coffee, an Edwardsville Illinois based local fair trade coffee roaster, to produce one of the biggest, boldest beers to date. Described from the manufacturer as a beer that ‘pours black as night with a smooth mouth feel… Aromas of espresso, dark chocolate, roasted malt with nuances of vanilla. Drink now or cellar for up to 5 years.’
As if that lead in wasn’t enough, the side of the bottle suggests this beer to be paired with dark chocolate or cigars – well of course I had to smoke a great cigar to go with this fantastic beer! Enough rambling, lets see what this libation is all about!
Country: United States
Bottler: 4 Hands Brewing ( St. Louis, MO )
Distillation Date: Unknown
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Alcohol: 8.5% ABV
When they say this beer pours dark as night, they are not lying! The darkness of motor oil is all consuming on the body, a slightly lighter mocha colored head hands tight to the top of the drink. A light scent of chocolate and coffee come off the top of the glass, hardly noticeable without nearly stuffing your nose into the glass.
With a flavor profile described earlier as Espresso, Chocolate, roasted malt and vanilla – I have to admit they pretty well nailed how this tastes! I’d say a bit heavier on the coffee followed by chocolate with the other notes ‘subtle’ at best yet still noticeable when attempting to pick them each out. The semi-bitter finish along with the creamy texture aided well in pairing with a cigar, assisting in pulling out similar chocolate and coffee notes from the cigar. I also picked up a mild spice off the finish, not quite a hot pepper spice but more of a refined ‘cooking spice’ that would show itself and disappear depending on if I had a sip and then a puff or a puff and then a sip.
When it comes to new beers, I am one who does not mind jumping in head first and then picking up the pieces after. The Bona Fide’s flavor profile is not one that I would normally gravitate towards, the thickness of the texture and the semi-bitter nature of the flavor profile are not off putting but are also not what I would consider a ‘summer, light and refreshing’ beer either. As far as Imperial Stouts are considered, I rank this in the top 5 along side Old Rasputin, Stone Imperial, Founders and Narwhal – quite the accomplishment in any book! As far as it is considered for pairing with a cigar, I went with a La Aroma De Cuba and would recommend similar cigars that would benefit from aiding or pulling out those coffee, malt, chocolate and semi-bitter notes. If this sounds like a pairing right up your alley, I cannot recommend this enough! If you have been fortunate enough to give the Bona Fide by 4 Hands Brewing a try, please let us know what you thought!
Step back, relax, and enjoy.