Given the state of play in parts of the beer world today, one in which there are seemingly no rules – at least none that can't be broken – it's not unusual to find brewers putting out high ABV and barrel-aged stouts whenever they feel like it. It's a sign of how far and fast things have moved over the past decade or so, as it's not too long ago that you could count the number of imperial stouts, and certainly barrel-aged versions, released by Aussie brewers in a year on your fingers. Or, at a push, your fingers and toes.
Back in that formative era, one of the beers that drinkers would always hang out for was Moo Brew's barrel-aged stout – AKA the Velvet Sledgehammer – which was their standard stout given 12 months in oak. It's a tradition that's stood the test of time – and seen them play around with variations on a theme at times too – and returns for spring 2022, wrapped in black paper, complete with a stark black and white label with scrawled text, the latter presumably a means of puncturing the austere nature of such a beer in these madcap times.
It pours with the sort of slow-forming brown head that suggests the bubbles are having to wade their way to the top, albeit at 8 percent ABV it's far from gloopy. There's plenty of oak and warming spirit character, which makes it quite lifted, almost sprightly, in a way, with a thick figginess a touch of hazelnut and cola accompanying the dominant chocolate flavours. If that all sounds a little on the rich side, there's a tannic dryness that steadily makes itself known to keep things in check.
Published October 3, 2022 2022-10-03 00:00:00