Beer Review 0299: Olde Hickory The Event Horizon Imperial Stout
Now here’s a beer I’ve been stoked to try ever since I rated Olde Hickory’s Lindley Park Imperial Stout a classic 99 points, falling in love with its use of chocolate malt: The Event Horizon Imperial Stout, which is the base beer for Lindley Park.
Olde Hickory Brewery is located in Hickory, North Carolina, and was founded by Steven Lyerly and Jason Yates in 1994. They started making beer on a seven barrel system, and the small batch mindset continues to this day, with batches being 800 gallons or less at a time. In fact, Olde Hickory are so small, the majority of their beers have hand stamped best by dates on the bottles.
The Event Horizon is an Imperial Stout brewed with local honey, ten varieties of malt, and then barrel aged in oak bourbon containers. Coming in at 8.5% ABV (alcohol by volume), this is a limited release beer that comes out in the late fall, and it usually disappears from shelves rapidly.
Release from the bottle provided an average size, creamy and dark brown head, which quickly fizzed away. The beer was a very dark brown, not quite pitch black, but it was opaque and had a muddy texture as it poured. The body was clear of particles and sediment, and lacing was most excellent, leaving behind thin, sticky, dark tan sheets all over my glass as I sampled.
The aroma was pungent; I could smell this beer as soon as I was able to clear enough of the wax top to strike the cap. Tons of dark chocolate, some caramel, and a bit of toffee shine through, very sweet and inviting. There’s a subtle dark fruit presence in the form of jammy grape and a bit of tart cherry, and a kiss of bourbon. As it warmed, the scent reminded me of a chocolate cake batter or perhaps cookie dough.
Tasting, this starts off a bit oddball with some dark fruit — but it’s lighter dark fruit, if that makes any sense. That quickly transitions into a semi-sweet chocolate that never really lets up. The finish is where the brunt of Event Horizon’s flavors can be found; it delivers both milk and dark chocolate that eventually fades into a mild bourbon that offers a subtle vanilla and oaky character. The finish is long and unwinds over the course of a couple of minutes, so take your time between sips to get the optimal flavor. Full-bodied and with a thick, creamy mouthfeel, there’s no outright alcohol presence here, other than a slight warming from the bourbon flavor.
While Olde Hickory doesn’t make the best use of the bourbon barrel, this is damn tasty and perhaps the finest example of chocolate in a beer that I’ve had to date. It’s only my personal opinion, but when I see “bourbon barrel aged,” I expect the bourbon to be more up front. It came more to the forefront as this brew warmed, and honestly, I think this is worth seeking out or making a special trip for. It’s a classic, for sure; if only for the layers of chocolate the tongue gets to pick through on that velvety and elegant finish.
Olde Hickory The Event Horizon Imperial Stout, 95 points. Price: $12.99 for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.