4 friends in three different time zones split a beer year (drinking a different beer every day). Once a week, we use google hangouts to have a conversation about the same beer as a group. We cycle through 2 beer styles a month (2 weeks per style).
Join us as we connect, learn and explore the world of beer.
January 28: Karl and the Tale of the Fifty Fifty Eclipse, Elijah Craig 12yr.
Barrels of Fun
We deviate, dear readers, from the norm this evening as
David and I head out into the great unknown. We are hitting up a favorite
establishment for a special flight of a beer that I’ve been waiting to try for
a while: Fifty Fifty’s Eclipse. This is a highly regarded series of imperial
stouts that are aged in a variety of whiskey barrels. Four different versions
of this beer on the flight this evening, with barrels of corn whiskey, Bernheim
Wheat, Old Fitzgerald and 12-year Elijah Craig adding their respective forms of
deliciousness to the beer.
All four of these stouts are well-made, with the barrels
adding a various levels of spiciness and sweetness to the chocolatey goodness
present in the stout. If I was grading these beers individually, based only on
flavor, I would be giving the Elijah Craig barrel an “A” bordering on an “A+”,
the corn whiskey an “A-“ and the other two solid “B+”s. David’s opinion differs
slightly from mine as he prefers the corn barrel over the Elijah Craig, but I
find the EC Eclipse displays a wonderful balance of sweet bourbon, oak flavors
and vanilla with a expertly crafted, chocolate-heavy stout. This beer tastes like
the younger brother of The Bruery’s infamous Black Tuesday, except that BT is literally
twice as strong of a beer, no small feat considering the Eclipse is 9.5%. This
beer is smooth to drink, and I would love to have it on a regular basis. David
and I are both slightly disappointed, though, in the lack of major distinction
between the different aging apparatuses. They are definitely unique, but the
barrels seem to only determine a smidgeon of the taste. David and I propose
that this is a beer that doesn’t need to hide its faults behind a curtain of heavy
barrel aging; we would both have loved to taste this beer sans any barrel
Total Eclipse of the Heart? Almost...
So…if you read ahead because you love spoilers, you would
see that my score doesn’t reflect at all the previous paragraph. Grading on
taste alone, these beers are fantastic and deserve to be mentioned in the
hallowed halls of beer’s noble kings, but they are not accessible, price-wise,
to the common consumer. A 22oz bottle of the worst of the group, the Old Fitzy,
was being sold at $30 a pop. The tasting itself was $28 for four 4oz pours. You
can get a respectable bottle of scotch at a better price per ounce. This is a
great beer, but not a good choice. I cannot in good conscience convince you, if
you are someone just now beginning to chart your course of exploration through
the craft beer forest, to seek out this beer. If you love stouts and are trying
to go down the checklist of the world’s best, then by all means find the Elijah
Craig version of this beer and consume it. Otherwise, spend your money buying
2-3 beers like Port Brewing Bourbon-Aged Santa’s Little Helper and the Barrel-Aged
Yeti from Great Divide, to get a good and delectable feel for the style.