AS THE ONLY brewery serving cask-conditioned ale via gravity tap at 2013’s Hoptacular, Cutter’s Brewing already was ahead of the game. That their cask contained a vanilla bean bourbon barrel-aged Empire Imperial Stout only upped the ante. The heady combination proved a little overwhelming in the end, though, and while it remains a memorable taste from the event it could have done even better with more balance.
Pouring dark amber to middling brown, the beer has a surpassingly creamy mouthfeel with big rounded flavors of caramel, milk, almond, and vanilla. Its lower carbonation levels enhanced the sweetness, though its tone is darkened somewhat by coffee and molasses that appear more towards the finish. A roasty grain bill and earthy English-style hopping also make some effort to even things out with only modest success. Either a less saturated grain bill or a higher carbonation rate would have been appropriate—combining such gravity with so little carbonation revealed the weakness behind each quality’s appeal.
Served: Gravity tap (Beer Hoptacular, 2013)