This Double Stout was brewed with cacao nibs, vanilla bean, chili pepper, and locally roasted coffee beans. It’s commonplace to add one or perhaps two of these ingredients to take things up a notch, but it’s practically unheard of to combine all four (though a few other examples do exist). World class aromas are dominated by espresso, complemented by cocoa powder that balance with sweet maple syrup, hints of cola, and remnants of smoke on the way out.
The palate opens up to dense malt roast that comes across like bitter espresso paired with an immense amount of cocoa powder. Burnt molasses rounds things out with sweet support that doesn’t overstep its bounds. A dark fruity character surfaces in the form of blackcurrant, a touch of black licorice, and metallic lining tasting like iron. Hops give an herbal spice note to the background as bitter oils continue to percolate. The vanilla beans settle on the finish, tasting like crème brulée with burnt caramel. Mouthfeel is creamy, floating semi-dry over an almost full body, leaving with a faint touch of chili pepper capsaicin that coincides perfectly with a delayed alcoholic warmth.
Prairie have proven their ability to brew a double stout. This beer really makes a statement, and is a testament to their fine brewing abilities. If this were any other style of beer, the 14% ABV would be pushing the boozy boundaries, but the chocolate, coffee, and roasted barley work together to mask the alcohol considerably well. All the ingredients come together with pleasant compatibility and each gets a moment to shine. I realize $8 for a 12 oz. is steep ($30/4-pack), but flavor and alcohol help make up for that if you care to do the math. Overall, I think this is a stunning beer that really impressed me. Every sip opens up a distinct shade and character, and for this reason I find it best served at room temperature. This is probably worth seeking out, because the standards are set high and it’s worth the experience if you love this style. I recommend it!