Phillips Snowcase 2015 Calendar Day #20 – The Hammer Barrel Aged Imperial Stout (skipped)


Phillips Snowcase 2015 Calendar Day #20

The Hammer (Bourbon) Barrel Aged Imperial Stout – Phillips Brewing, 8.3% ABV – 341ml., (Victoria, BC, Canada)

-Probably my favourite style of beer, including the barrel-aging part. I had this over a year ago in April of 2014 so I’m looking forward to re-tasting this later on in 2016. I’ll put it aside for now, in the meantime check out my initial review here.

The Abyss 2014 Reserve – Deschutes Brewery (Bend, OR, USA)


The Abyss 2014 Reserve – Deschutes Brewery, 11.1% ABV, 1 pt. 6 fl.oz., (Bend, Oregon, USA)

on the front label:

“The Abyss: malt beverage brewed with black strap molasses, licorice, with cherry bark and vanilla added with 6% aged in oak bourbon barrels, 11% aged in oak barrels, and 11% aged in oak wine barrels.

It’s dark, it’s deep, it’s mysterious. This imperial stout has immeasurable depth inviting you to explore and discover its rich, complex profile. The flavor of this special brew draws you further and further with each sip. The Abyss beckons. Enjoy the journey.”


  • Style: (bourbon, oak, wine) Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
  • Taste: Evolving with temperature roast malt chocolate raspberry alcoholic soy sauce vanilla woody
  • Where I got it : Liquor Barn (Bby, Hastings)
  • How much: $17 (after 10% off) – 1 pt. 6 fl.oz., February 2015
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: yes, annually
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes way, it’s a trip

Visual: 2014 edition, black wax sealed. Pours coffee black with a very small head, petri dish lacing, SUPER-fine bubbles.

Nose: roasted dark malts, cherry wood, wet red wine barrels. (lvl-4)-pungency

Attack: very slick-oily mouthfeel, subdued alcohol

Mid-palate: light sourness, (MAIN) brown sugar, thick malts, roasted coffee, dark chocolate, woody, raspberry ->transition-> (lvl-7)-sweetness+malt

Finish: soy sauce, licorice, roasted-burnt bitter exhale, light burpy, cascading alcohol buzz, sweet-light bitter chocolate malt finish.

Summary: A beer with impact, both in taste and alcoholic bite. Layers upon layers of flavour, every year is exceptional. Notice the changes in flavours as the temperature decreases; less malt and more fruity characteristics emerge.

Paradox Isle of Arran (Batch 16) – Brewdog (Ellon, Scotland)


Paradox Isle of Arran (Batch 16) (retired) – Brewdog, 10% ABV – 500ml., (Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland)

Another one from my absolute favourite top 10 breweries, Brewdog never fails to delight my palate. Check out my review of their Speyside edition.

on the back label:

“A rock ‘n’ roll partnership between Scotland’s best new distillery (Distiller of the Year 2007) and Scotland’s hardcore new microbrewery (Gold Medal Winner, World Beer Cup 2008). Paradox, Isle of Arran Edition, see’s BrewDog’s killer 10% Imperial Stout matured in stunning whisky casks from the Arran distillery.

The rich vanilla sweetness, hints of cinnamon, balanced aromatic fruit and ginger flavours of the Arran malt are all completely infused deep into the texture of our smooth robust Imperial Stout, with profound new depths emerging with each pass and sip.

To release the true character, complexity and depth of flavours in this beer, please enjoy it at room temperature, unless you live in an igloo.”


  • Style: (Isle of Arran Scotch) Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
  • Taste: Whisky alcoholic thick sweet roasted coffee caramel-cacao malt bitter
  • Where I got it : Legacy Liquor Store (Van, BC)
  • How much: $7 (after 10% off) – 330ml., February, 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: unlikely
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes, especially if you like stouts

Visual: Pours coffee black-brown with barely any head, a thin layer of ultra-micro retention, no visible activity.

Nose: BIG roasted coffee caramel malt, very thick (lvl-10)-pungency

Attack: thicker viscosity, light-fizzy, slick

Mid-palate: thick-bodied, (lvl-7)-sweetness, (MAIN) persistent whisky alcohol detection, malt, cacao, chocolate, caramel, fig/date, coffee, soy sauce

Finish: deep-roasted coffee bitter, residual malty sweetness + lingering roasted bitter finish.

Summary: Solid depth of flavours and complexity, but more alcohol (as well as other subtle spices) come through as it cools down. Great overall brew but no distinct attention-grabbing traits particularly stood out, other than the whisky alcohol influence.

Black Swan Imperial Stout – Buckerfield’s Brewery (Victoria, BC, Canada)


My Rating: C-

Black Swan (Oak Aged) Imperial Stout – Buckerfield’s Brewery, 8.5% ABV – 650ml., (Victoria, BC, Canada)

  • Style: (Oak) Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
  • Taste: Sweet caramel malt plastic licorice
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek
  • How much: $6 (after 10% off) – 650ml., January 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: no

Visual: Pours ultra dark brown with almost no head and many streams near the surface.

Nose: thick sweet caramel malts, roasted, molasses, brown sugar, soy sauce (lvl-7)-pungency

Attack: thick viscosity, very tingly, half-crisp

Mid-palate: (lvl-6) sweetness, (MAIN) thick caramel malts, molasses, licorice, strange plastic/rubber, mild oak, soy sauce

Finish: malty sweet, soft hopped, light bitter malty finish.

Summary: An okay imp stout with decent body but rather disappointing considering it is barrel-aged. It has distasteful persistent rubber/plastic in there that ruins the experience.

Black Butte XXV 25th Birthday Reserve – Deschutes Brewery (Bend, OR, USA)


  • My Rating: A-

Black Butte XXV 25th Birthday Reserve – Deschutes Brewery, 11.3% ABV – 650ml.,(Bend, Oregon, USA)

on the front-side label:

Dates, figs and chocolate. Black currants, barrel-aged in bourbon casks. The result is an Imperial Porter with a tart berry and chocolate aroma with luscious layers of dried fruit, oak and vanilla. A fitting tribute to the 25th Anniversary of our flagship beer.”

  • Style: (flavoured) Barrel-aged Imperial Stout
  • Taste: Sour malt date/fig cocoa coffee currant
  • Where I got it : W. 16th Liquor Store
  • How much: $18 (after 10% off) – 650ml., September 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Visual: Now in their 25th edition with every year a little different and a bit more special. Pours ultra dark brown with virtually no head, a super thin layer of retention, lots of micro streams scattered throughout.

Nose: super malty with some cocoa. (lvl-7)-pungency

Attack: sour-sweet deep maltiness

Mid-palate: fizzy-tingly, (lvl-7)-sweetness, (MAIN) fig/date fruitiness, malts, cocoa, black currant depth, coffee, bourbon booziness

Finish: coffee bitterness, alcohol detection, malty bittersweet finish.

Summary: Extremely well-bodied and drinkable, albiet very heavy malty. Having tried the 23rd version, I like that one better. This one is a bit more deep and sour whereas that one was citrus-chocolate spicy. Check out that review here.

The Hammer Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout – Phillips Brewing (Victoria, BC, Canada)


  • My Rating: B (downgraded from B+, 6/10/2016 re-tasting)

The Hammer Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout – Phillips Brewing, 8.3% ABV – 650ml., (Victoria, BC, Canada)

on the front side label:

“Take some original Hammer Imperial Stout and delicately roshambo it into bourbon soaked American oak barrels. Drop the hammer and smash your way into rich, roasted caramel warmth. Break down that wall! … or conform & be dull.”

  • Style: (bourbon) Barrel-aged Imperial Stout
  • Taste: Syrupy spicy bittersweet roasted mocha licorice malts
  • Where I got it : Firefly Liquor Store
  • How much: $6 (after 10% off) – 650ml., January 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Visual: The barrel-aged version of their Hammer Imperial Stout; I still have a bottle of it in my cellar but I expect this one to be better. Pours inkjet black with a smallish, very long lasting creamy head, a good layer of retention, lots of micro bubbly streams near the base of the glass.

Nose: mocha caramel malts with a good hint of bourbon, very aromatic (lvl-8)-pungency

Attack: creamy silky texture

Mid-palate: (lvl-7)-dense malty sweetness, (MAIN) bitter roasted coffee malts, chocolate, licorice, soy sauce, bourbon booziness

Finish: quick black pepper spiciness, syrupy texture, sweet roasted malt finish.

Summary: An interesting complexity with a good body and balance. It has just a touch of watery mouthfeel near the finish but overall very nice for the price.

June 10, 2016 re-tasting: Downgraded to B. Decent body and flavour, a bit lacking in body and carry in the mids to finish. It could also use more creaminess. A bit underwhelming the second time around, 2 years later.