Taste it First: Laser Kraken Rum Barrel Aged Imperial Stout – Lone Pint Brewery
So, for the second installment of “Taste it First with Tristin”, we have Lone Pint’s anniversary ale “Laser Kraken”, an Appleton Estate Rum Barrel Aged Imperial Stout with cinnamon, nutmeg, peppercorns, and vanilla. Laser Kraken comes in at 13.3% ABV and 59 IBUs, and will be released on tap in the Beer Garden located at 507 Commerce St Magnolia, TX 77355 this Friday, and will be available in bottles around Houston with some limited distribution in the Austin and Dallas markets as soon after.
I honestly struggled a bit with how to judge this since it features both barrel aging and the addition of spices. If you will allow me a little latitude, I feel like for those of my readers that want to learn more about sensory and beer judging, it is worth giving a bit of an explanation.
In the BJCP guidelines, there are several categories that are judged using the base style of the beer and then considering how the addition of certain ingredients affects the overall beer. Some examples are the Fruit Beer Category, the Spiced Beer Category, the Wood Beer Category, and the American Wild Ale category. All these categories are judged with the characteristics of the base style as a guideline, with allowances for the effects the additional ingredients might have on the finished product. The overall theme in all these categories is that the base style of the beer should still be recognizable and is enhanced by the additions that were made without overwhelming the beer itself.
Laser Kraken will be judged with the base style, Imperial Stout, and I will take into consideration both the barrel aging and the spices with somewhat equal weight.
Aroma: The complexity of Laser Kraken’s aroma is unreal! When it is first poured, the overwhelming characteristic is a nice warm alcoholic note, which is bang on for Appleton Rum. It isn’t unpleasant or solventy but certainly makes its presence known. When drinking this beer, I highly recommend letting it warm up to at least 55°F as that is where all the wonderful richness and complexity start to come through. The roasted malt character here is lower than one would usually expect from an Imperial Stout but is explained by the barrel aging and the additional spices. The malt that does come through is a medium level of roast, an almost burnt brown sugar, and an overall impression of malt richness. Fruity esters here are low levels of dark dried stone fruits, like raisin, and are difficult to distinguish from the fruitiness coming from the Appleton barrel. Hop aroma here is not noticeable, which is not unexpected from this style. The spices added here add another layer of aroma, just adding to the complexity. There is a hint of spiciness (from the peppercorns and cinnamon), a vanilla aroma from both the spice and the wood of the barrel, and a touch of woody sweetness from the nutmeg.
Appearance: This beer is a gorgeous dark reddish brown with some slight orange tones when light is shined through. It is not completely opaque, but certainly close. The head is a pillowy deep tan that has very little persistence.
Flavor: Even more complex than the aroma, is the flavor of Laser Kraken. It is nuanced and bold in each sip. The malt flavor here sticks out a little more than it does in the aroma and would be at the high level in intensity. It has the dark brown, almost burnt, sugar flavor with a somewhat bitter cocoa flavor. The same esters are present here in the flavor that were in the aroma and are at a relatively low level of intensity. The hop flavor level is low, but the bitterness from the hops is medium-high. This is great because it keeps the beer from being unbalanced, or too sweet. The characteristics both from the Appleton Rum previously stored in the barrel and some vanilla from the wood itself is present at a high level, but does not in any way overpower the beer. The spiciness from the added peppercorns, cinnamon, and nutmeg is at a low level. Each spice added gives the overall impression of the spiced rum that was used to age this beer. It is relatively dry with just a hint of lingering warmness when you finish each swallow.
Mouthfeel: Traditionally Imperial Stouts are at the minimum, full bodied. Laser Kraken is lower than that threshold, at a solid medium level. Barrel aging tends to add to the body of the beer but does add a slight level of astringency that can sometimes dry the beer out and make the drinker perceive it as being thinner than it truly is.
Overall Impression: If you could take the flavor profile of Appleton Estate Rum and make it into a beer, then Laser Kraken is what you have. This beer is incredibly smooth and easy to drink, with a complexity that makes me notice something a little different with each sip. This is a really fun beer to practice your sensory skills with because as it warms the flavors and aromas continue to unfold and change. I would strongly encourage you to try this beer if you have the chance, and perhaps buy a few bottles to hold onto as this beer would be a great one for cellaring.