Taking advantage of a brief lull in the warmer weather, I decided to drink something from my refrigerator that otherwise might have been in there for a while. I was having a hard time making a choice at the bottle shop a few weeks ago, so my wife started pointing out things she thought I might like. What I ended up with was this rather interesting looking stout from Moa Brewing Company, located Marlborough, New Zealand.
Beer Name: Imperial Stout Aged in Pinot Noir Barrels
Brewer: Moa Brewing Company
Style: Imperial Stout
Description: I couldn’t find much in the way of official release notes regarding this particular variant, but the brewery does offer a description of the base stout here. The beer came in a rather nice looking corked and caged 12.7 oz. green bottle at a $5.99 price point. Not bad for a barrel aged offering.
Appearance: It had a deep brown, nearly black body with a faint reddish tinge when looked at from the right angle. Despite some aggressive coaxing, there wasn’t much of a head on this beer, just a slight bit of tan lacing lining the top edges of the glass.
Smell: Clearly influenced by the barreling process, it smelled almost exactly like a full-bodied, slightly sweet red wine.
Taste: Dark malts upfront with a sweetness more reminiscent of a much smaller milk stout. These were soon overtaken by an oaky barrel presence that brought with it notes of a strong, dry red wine. At cooler temperatures these flavors were all rather subtle, but as the beer sat for a bit and warmed to room temperature, the red wine really opened up to assert itself as the primary characteristic of the beer. A dry, slightly bitter finish also developed as the beer went on, but overall the taste was heavily influenced by the barreling process as well.
Mouthfeel: Started out with a thick, creamy body. With the exception of some fizz around the initial sip there wasn’t much carbonation going on. In keeping with the beer’s wine-like character, it ended up feeling a bit thinner and significantly drier \than it started.
Hype Factor: None other than curiosity. This beer and brewery were a complete mystery to me going in, which was actually kind of nice.
Overall: This beer was a pleasant surprise. As I said, I was really not sure how it would turn out, but it ended up being a pretty good barrel aged stout. I have to think they achieved what they were going for with this release, as every step of the way the beer brought to mind those Pinot Noir barrels. Fans of wine influenced beers should definitely check this one out.