Beer Review 0295: Laughing Dog The Dogfather Imperial Stout (Bourbon Barrel Aged)
Yesterday, we reviewed Laughing Dog’s The Dogfather Imperial Stout, giving it 87 points, noting the beer’s excellent use of chocolate flavors and creamy mouthfeel. Today, we’re back with the bourbon barrel aged version.
Like it’s base beer, the bourbon barrel aged version of The Dogfather comes out each November, in a limited release format. Laughing Dog is located in Ponderay, Idaho, and in my state (North Carolina), all of their releases are Total Wine exclusives, or what they call “brewery direct.”
I had intended to review this beer this past spring, but the bottle I had then spontaneously combusted in my kitchen, causing a huge mess. Recently, while in my local bottle shop, the beer manager remembered my disaster and passed me on a complementary bottle. Score! Let’s get to the review.
The bourbon barrel aged variant comes in at 11% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 71 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).
The pour issued a small head, dark tan in color, and soapy, with big bubbles. The head stuck around for awhile atop a dark black, opaque beer, free of any lighter highlight colors. As I poured, I noticed the body was clear, free of sediment, and the lacing was decent, especially when swirling the beer in my tulip glass.
Chocolate was the stand out on the aromatics; there’s plenty of dark, layered chocolate here, coupled with a nice strong note of vanilla from the bourbon barrels and a touch of coffee and caramel. There was a bit of dust in there, too, but it didn’t distract from the inviting scents. This beer smelled much like cake batter; the chocolate was very nice, the alcohol was well hidden, and the bourbon barrel was completely missing, save for the vanilla.
On the palate, up front Dogfather presents equal notes of chocolate and vanilla, with a touch of dark fruit (perhaps a black cherry), transitioning to a middle of pure dark chocolate and sweetened coffee. The finish comes on with a touch of bitterness to balance out all the sweet, and concludes with a bit of toasty, burnt oak. Lingering in the back of the throat is all that dark chocolate, which comes off almost like a milkshake. The 11% ABV is totally and masterfully absent, making this extremely and dangerously drinkable; absent with the alcohol is the bourbon barrel, save for the aforementioned vanilla.
It stuck me as I finished my flavor description of the beer that perhaps this is the bourbon barrel aged beer for people that love Imperial Stouts, but don’t like bourbon. Despite the lack of the spirit in the flavor, I thought the barrel did positive things to this beer, like amping up the chocolate, adding the vanilla layer, and toning down the bitterness on the finish. The mouthfeel was edited, too; this is more medium than the regular version, which is quite thick. Nice stuff, don’t be afraid to pick this one up if you see it.
Laughing Dog The Dogfather Imperial Stout (Bourbon Barrel Aged), 90 points. Price: Free (Complements of the beer manager of my bottle shop, to replace a broken bottle.)