Beer Review 0247: Olde Hickory Lindley Park Imperial Stout

Beer lovers, today is a big day for yours truly. My good friends, Gordon and Renee, are getting married today, and I was honored to be asked to become an ordained minister and perform the ceremony. Needless to say, the whole thing has been a big trip for me (pretty hilarious) but in an effort to relate this big event to beer, I thought it wholly appropriate to review a big beer on their (and partially, mine) big day.

Did I use the word ‘big’ enough?

By the time you read this review, the ceremony may have already taken place, so congratulations and good luck to Gordon and Renee, and good luck to me. Hopefully I won’t stumble over any words or do something terribly embarrassing!

I was surprised to be asked to perform the ceremony, just as I was surprised to stumble upon the beer up for review today, which I’ve heard nothing but good things about. Olde Hickory Brewery makes their beer in my home state, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Hickory, North Carolina. Founded in 1994 by Steven Lyerly and Jason Yates, this brewery has been steadily growing and have been on the fast road to expansion here lately, but their brews are still small batch (800 gallons at a time). Distribution is limited to North Carolina and Tennessee.

Lindley Park is an Imperial Stout that was made to honor retailers that support Olde Hickory — the Lindley Park area is located in Greensboro, NC. In fact, I purchased this beer at Bestway Grocery in Greensboro, which is a throwback to the past as far as grocery stores go — and this store had a short exclusivity on selling the beer. Coming in at 10% ABV (alcohol by volume), this is a huge beer brewed with honey and raspberries. The base of the beer is Olde Hickory’s Event Horizon Stout, which is a blended bourbon barrel aged stout.

As you can tell from the first photo, the bottle does feature some wax. Here’s what it looked like before I cut it up to get to the contents:

This Imperial Stout poured a small, fizzy head, that was dark brown and almost red in color. Nearly as quickly as it is poured, it faded, which was expected for such a high alcohol beer. And right from the opening of the bottle and pour, I could smell this beer — but more on that in a second. The beer itself was jet black in color, completely opaque, with deep maroon highlights in the light. I couldn’t judge whether this beer had any sediment floating in it, because it was so dark. Lacing was sparse and virtually non-existent, save for a piece here and there. A great looking stout, thick and viscous!

The aroma. Oh the aromatics! Straight up, there’s plenty of strong, ripe raspberry — it really reminded me not so much of how Twizzler candy smells, but how it “smells” while it is in your mouth. Buried underneath all the fruit is a solid base of chocolate and coffee goodness, roasted and sweet. This beer is pungent and demands you take a whiff, and it also has a touch of alcohol. Any barrel characteristics are absent. Still, lovely.

On the taste, there’s ripe raspberry up front, some tart raspberry in the middle, and awash comes the layers of dark chocolate, and I’m screaming AUTHENTIC dark chocolate here. This is the best use of chocolate flavor I have ever tasted in a beer. Seriously, this brew is like a dark chocolate covered raspberry, with just a subtle hint of black coffee. The one downside to Lindley Park — it’s so sweet that it dries out the mouth. Yep, it’s cloying. The mouthfeel was super thick and foamy, and the alcohol does start to catch up with you after a few sips. The barrel notes are there on the tail end of the finish, presenting a touch of hot bourbon, alcohol, and some woody oak. Two minutes after a sip and you still taste it; remember that Twizzler smell I described? It hit my palate, too.

Folks, this is an impressive beer. Consider me blown away — I was not expecting such a good beer. I could only imagine what a few months of age will do to this brew. The only negative I could find was the sweetness, which was a bit much, and I would have loved to have more of the barrel characteristics through in the aroma and taste. But this is a stellar sipper, and you might want to consider this for Valentine’s Day…I imagine by then, this beer will be just right, with some of the alcohol tamed.

If you’ve heard of ‘white wales’ in the beer world, well…this has to be one. WOW.

And I’m glad I chose this beer for Gordon and Renee’s wedding. Congratulations, guys! And thanks again for letting me have the honors.

Olde Hickory Lindley Park Imperial Stout, 99 points. Price: $12.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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