Red Brick “Brick Mason Series #7: 20th Anniversary” Oak Aged Imperial Stout
Alongside most of the breweries in Georgia, Red Brick is a bore. With the exception of Sweetwater, which has worked long and hard to develop some very memorable brews, I never got excited about a Georgia brew but was always happy to give them my patronage. All of them are good, and always worth trying. But none of them are great and they never had me racing back to the liquor store for more (when I was sober, of course… kids, remember when you get older NOT to drive drunk… and don’t read this magazine until then, either! It’s for adults! JESUS CHRIST!). But at least the breweries down there are trying. And they probably need some more time to develop. But the 20th Anniversary from Red Brick is a shining star, and a prideful achievement.
20th Anniversary pours a deep, thick black. It contains a very little amount of caramel colored head. The head is weak and disappointing. The beer smells like charred chewing tobacco and chocolate with a bit of vanilla extract. It smells GREAT. It is a real pleasure to take in the scent as you sip. The lacing is respectable but not very strong; and not as strong as its flavor would have you believe (this is again why I don’t judge a beer’s taste by its lacing).
The flavor of this beer packs a wallop. The first characteristic I noticed was its charred, oaken flavor. And the bourbon booze flavor really shines through. It’s quite boozy, but it’s complimented with the flavor of bitter chocolate, a hint of vanilla, and roasted coffee. It is a very smooth stout. I would not recommend this for those sensitive to a booze flavor. But then again, to those sensitive to a booze flavor I would also not recommend manly things such as operating a chainsaw, camping, discharging firearms, or performing cunnilingus (yes, that is MANLY, and if you argue with me on that I will punch you in your throat… then run away because I am skinny and fragile). There isn’t much going on here in terms of complexity; it’s just a straight up stout with a heavy taste and “feeling” of bourbon. The aftertaste is strong and bitter. The metallic bitterness is there but the bourbon flavor and cocoa surround it and make it pleasant. It is an honest beer that gives you what you expect and tastes great.
It feels like slick oil, and warms the throat and chest cavity immensely. There isn’t a lot of carbonation. In the snifter from which I drink it, there is a cute little column of bubbles coming up through the middle. It reminds me of a bubbling tar pit. But instead of skeletal remains of dinosaurs, sabre tooth tigers and people who have pissed off the mafia, within the depths of this beer exists only delicious flavor.
This isn’t mind blowing but it’s a very solid beer. It is a must have if you are into imperial stouts aged in bourbon barrels. I heard some comparisons to (and even the claim “it’s just as good as”) Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout. It’s in the same family but nowhere near as good. But if you enjoy this style, do not pass this one up. It’s limited to a July release and I’m certain July 2014 will yield this brew again. If not, the folks at Red Brick really ought to slug themselves in the genitals for not capitalizing on the one beer they made which is good enough to be purchased a 2nd time (AGAIN, NO DRUNK DRIVING!).