We're big, big fans of The Bruery's unique options. Their sours are bright, tart, and bursting with candy-like flavor, their Belgian-inspired ales are interesting and unique, and their barrel aged options are unbelievably rich and complex.
Some of their most prized releases, though, are limited to a Reserve Society and handed out exclusively at the brewery in California, so for beer nerds on the East Coast they largely remain the stuff of legends. Unless, that is, you have deep pockets and a West Coast connection willing to part with his or her precious bottle.
Chocolate Rain is one such Reserve Society beer. It's a variant of The Bruery's legendary Black Tuesday: a bourbon aged imperial stout with a jaw-dropping alcohol content of around 20% ABV (so if you're lucky enough to secure a bottle, you're going to need some friends to share it with). Chocolate Rain has all the powerfully rich flavors of the original, but with the addition of cocoa nibs and vanilla beans.
We were lucky enough to receive a couple bottles of it here at Bespoke HQ thanks to Finn Parker, the winner of our Facebook barter, and we put it to the test during a particularly special office happy hour.
Appearance: Intense brown black with minimal head but plenty of lacing.
Smell: The aroma hits you like a (very, very pleasant) kick in the face. Dark, roasted chocolate and seriously boozy, sweet bourbon notes practically jump out of the glass. Just incredible.
Taste: There's less of a bourbon-fueled alcohol burn than the nose would lead you to believe, which is especially surprising (and dangerous) given the absurdly high ABV. The oak-aged whiskey flavor is still present in a great way, but what really shines through is an almost overwhelming richness from the cocoa nibs and vanilla beans. Imagine the best stout, the best chocolate bar, and the best bourbon you've ever had, all expertly combined with a slight vanilla presence that just barely lightens the body.
Mouthfeel: Leaning slightly toward the creamy side, but not as much as you might expect given how rich the taste is. It’s just enough to coat your tongue with a velvety sweetness without being cloying.
Overall: Absolutely outstanding. Given the bourbon barrel aging and massive alcohol content, it's amazing just how sweet, complex, and drinkable this beer is. The flavor and aroma hits with outstanding force, with such strongly delicious notes that any other stout pales in comparison. It’s also superbly well-balanced and plenty complex for an imperial style, which can all too often be dominated by a single palate-ruining gimmick (looking at you, hop-heavy imperial IPAs), and fully lives up to the huge amount of hype surrounding it with strong but masterfully combined notes, none of which overpowers any other. If you can, do whatever you have to in order to get your hands on a bottle -- you'll be glad you did.