Review: Nickel Brook Kentucky Bastard Imperial Stout (2020)

Today I'm checking out Nickel Brook Brewing's 2020 edition of their Kentucky Bastard Imperial Stout. When I bought this at the Quality Beer Store two months ago, my gut feeling was immediately that this wasn't the same beer I reviewed back in 2018, which was bottled in 2016 - the bottle was smaller and the price was surprisingly affordable at $11ish per 500mL bottle vs $30 per 750mL bottle the last time I bought it. Well, beers can get more affordable over time but this version of Kentucky Bastard is rated at 11.9% ABV vs 14.5% ABV a few years earlier. Well, this won't be the overly smooth booze bomb that I came to fall in love years ago but I think I'll still love this anyways!

From the website: Kentucky Bastard is a serious beer for serious beer lovers. We brew our Imperial Stout full of rich chocolate, coffee, and dark fruit notes, and place it into Kentucky Bourbon Barrels to mature for an entire year. During this lengthy process the depth and complexity of the beer develops. The rich and intoxicating flavours are married together with the vanilla, oak and warming alcohol from the bourbon barrels. The outcome (or reward rather) is Kentucky Bastard - an incredible blend of aroma and taste. Drink it today, or cellar it to enjoy later as it matures. 11.9% ABV / 70 IBU

Appearance: Dark rich black stout with a thick caramelly/beige/cookie dough head on it. The head diminishes rather quickly to leave behind a very layered lacing on the glass.

Aroma: Roasted malt, caramel, bit of Bourbon, oak, a bit of chocolate, tad boozy and a bit of a breadiness at the end. Lighter than I was hoping but slight hint of dark fruits pop up at the end.

Taste: It's a sweet and roasted Imperial Stout with chocolate, a bit of a bitterness from the malt, notes of oak and especially a Kentucky Bourbon presence that gives off a bit of caramel, spice and booziness at the end. 

Overall Thoughts: Not the same beer I fell in love with back in 2018 but seeing that this is now an international success to the point that one of my best buddies can get this in Europe, it has to be made to be able to be in the largest possible quantities without compromising on taste. It's good but it's not the experience I got so overwhelmed about three years ago. Which is too bad because I recalled the 2016 batch of this very beer to be one the best stouts I ever had. It's good but not even the best Imperial Stout I had this week, which you will see tomorrow why I say that... 

I miss you, classic Nickel Brook..this isn't what I was excited on buying but I still enjoyed it.. This is your typical Bourbon barrel aged stout but nothing makes OMG quality.

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