Tasting Note 1 (of 7) from Doc and Barley’s Killer Beer Night…
I arrived at Doc’s lair on Thursday night with Wifey in tow and a bag full of goodies. Doc and his Doclings were awaiting us…and Nurse Van Drinkale arrived shortly thereafter with various artery-clogging (albeit delicious) foodstuffs. We talked of the things that folks our age discuss…child-rearing, the fates of our favorite sports franchises, the quality and quantity of our bowel movements. Standard stuff. For most couples, it would have been a delightful, pleasant evening amongst friends. Perhaps a glass of wine…maybe a round of Trivial Pursuit or Cranium. A few laughs. Rehash some memories. Lovely.
Unfortunately for our respective spouses, Doc and I are Aleheads. And with that power comes great responsibility. Namely, the responsibility to excessively drink obscure beers every time we find ourselves in the same general region. Needless to say, we take our duties seriously.*
*And I’m not just talking about the aforementioned bowel movements.
Doc and I had each procured a small, but formidable line-up of beers with which to impress one another. Doc, as he so often does, had the trump card with a 9-year-old Westy 12 sitting in his cellar. I knew I couldn’t top that, but I tried to bring a couple of big bats of my own. We decided to cut to the chase immediately and crack into my clean-up hitter…the aptly named, B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher from Hoppin’ Frog.
Hoppin’ Frog is an Akron, Ohio brewery. I have no jokes about Akron. None. Just the name alone makes me bored. Like Wichita. Or Lincoln. Or Redhook. But regardless of the dubiety* of opening a brewery in Akron, Hoppin’ Frog clearly knows a thing or two about the fermented arts.
*I just made up the word dubiety because dubiousness sounds dumb. I figure that American society is functionally illiterate these days, so I might as well just make shit up as I go along. Who’s going to call me on it? Bill Safire is dead.
Hoppin’ Frog’s most famous brew is B.O.R.I.S, an acronym meaning “Bodacious Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout”. Besides being a fairly cool acronym, Boris the Crusher also sounds like the prototypical KGB strong-man from an 80′s Cold War flick. Perfect name for a Russian Imperial Stout. The bottle notes the brew’s stiff 9.4% ABV, fairly high 60 IBUs, and intimidating 107 Original Gravity (just to let you know you’re in for a thicker than molasses offering). The bottle also informs us that B.O.R.I.S had won Gold at the GABF in 2008*…an impressive feat not to be taken lightly by Aleheads.
*In the Russian Imperial Stout category with 44 total entries. Good luck driving home after judging that category.
Doc and I split a bomber of B.O.R.l.S. He poured his half into a Hennepin glass and my half into a German tulip glass with writing that neither one of us could interpret (he had no idea where the glass came from, but I can assure you that it held and delivered my beer very well throughout the evening….great job, mystery glass!).
As you might expect, The Crusher pours…well…black. Like, really black. You could shine a klieg light through it and the color wouldn’t change one iota. The head is the color of dark coffee. It’s thick, creamy, and steadfast. Excellent lacing clings high on the glass and drips down sloppily into the oily, black goo.
The nose is formidable…it stings the nostrils! Doc got mostly dark chocolate while I got a ton of roasted coffee. Regardless, there’s a heapin’ helpin’ of dark, sweet malt in this sucker. There’s also a big hop presence in the nose…not unusual for an RIS, but bigger than anticipated. Whatever hop varietals were used give off a strong pine scent rather than the more typical American grapefruit/citrus aroma. A touch of nose-burn from the alcohol numbs your olfactory bulb after about three or four whiffs.
The taste is rich and decadent. Big, big, big malt profile…the chocolate and coffee Doc and I found in the nose make their respective presences known in the taste immediately. The hop profile ramps up in the middle with an impressively bitter taste. The finish is a touch of molasses sweetness and a goodly amount of ABV burn. A nice, complex flavor that hits all of the notes you expect from an RIS but stays appropriately balanced.
Mouthfeel is chewy and gooey. As thick, maybe even a touch more so, than the Oskar Blues Ten FIDY and much fuller than the Great Divide Yeti. This is a serious, mouth-coating brew. Aleheads hate when people complain that dark beer is somehow more “filling” than paler brews. But sometimes that stereotype is dead on…and B.O.R.I.S is proof of that. Drinkability is low since one bomber of this was about all Doc and I could handle. Still, this was one of the best Russian Imperials I’ve ever had. The flavor was ungodly good and the nose and mouthfeel were a true treat. I have no qualms about giving 4 Hops to B.O.R.I.S…I’m just sad this is the first time he and I have met.