Stumbling Upon Perfection
A Review of Oak Barrel Stout by Old Dominion Brewing Co.
Posted on 3/24/2012 by Brew's Your Daddy
                   
Exquisite
So let me set a scene for you. Yours truly was out of town in an area that was completely new to me. I was to be there for 3 days and nights. Due to some very strange circumstances, I would be without the use of a vehicle for 2 of those days and evenings. Luckily I was within walking distance of a grocery store and had a very nice hotel room with all the necessary amenities needed to keep me comfortable. The only thing missing was a bar that was in walking distance. Just when things were starting to sound all cozy and nice, right? Well, not to be completely defeated, I decided that there had to me something at the grocery store that I could pick up to at least keep me occupied. Surprisingly, when I made it to the grocery store, they had what seemed to be a rather large selection of beer. Even more surprising, they had several offerings that were seemingly new to me. And just as I was starting to get lost in all the choices in front of me, one decided to jump off the shelf and smack me in the face as it demanded that I purchase it. So as to not anger the beer, I picked up the package of Oak Barrel Stout from Old Dominion Brewing Company and proceeded to the checkout.

Now here is where I owe a bit of an apology to you all, as upon my return to my hotel room I realized that all I had to drink the Oak Barrel Stout from was either a hotel room tumbler or a small plastic cup. I decided on the tumbler, but also decided against posting a picture of it in the tumbler because after having the beer it seems almost blasphemous to show it in inappropriate glassware. That being said, the appearance is as perfect as a stout can get. Practically black with only the slightest ruby red edges showing when held to a bright light source, there is a visual thickness to it that seems almost velvety. A very tight and creamy two fingers worth of tan head forms off of a regular pour, but dissipates down to a soft layer of bubbles that leaves some nice lacing throughout the session.

The first smell of it had me completely hooked. Just about every word you can think of to describe a stout bouquet applies here. Rich? Check. Robust? Check. Complex? Check. Bold? Check. Balanced? Check. Inviting? Check. Are you getting the picture? All the bases are covered here. There is a charred quality that floats lightly above all of the other aromas that never gets distracting, but rather gives an added bit of character to them all. Roasted malts dominate the introduction, but once you move past them there are distinct layers of toffee, vanilla, coffee, light chocolate, and a dormant but very present bourbon smell. I can't stress enough how hooked I was by the smell alone. It actually took me physically getting up from my chair and walking away from it twice to keep from drinking it before I could get the initial nose study out of the way.

Once I was able to get a decent amount of nose notes down, I finally allowed myself to dive right in for a slow and deliberate taste of this beauty. I really wish I could get away with writing ''It is what all other beers wish they were''. That is seriously the first thought that came to mind as I savored it. All of the flavors in the nose came through in waves of distinct layers that seemed to dance around each other, yet never get in each others way. The roasted malts are again upfront, but they seem to get a touch of bitterness from the coffee layer for a bit of a bite on the tongue to start things out. However just as soon as you notice it, it gets covered by a chocolaty sweetness that is highlighted by notes of vanilla, toffee and caramel. This layer can invoke initial images of rich candy, but it never gets to the point of overkill or distracting. The bourbon flavor is subtle in power, but present throughout. As it warms, it seems to start to claw its way over some of the more lighter layers and make itself a little more known.

As far as mouthfeel goes, again this is as good as it gets. There is only the slightest gritty feel to it initially, and the longer you spend with it, the smoother and fuller it seems to get. We often say that you want to almost be able to chew on your stouts, and this one is a perfect example of what we mean. The aftertaste has a delicious sweetness to it that comes very close to resembling chocolate milk without any of the sticky characteristics that one might assume.

It isn't very often that I can say that a beer has bullied its way onto my all time top 10 list of beers, but my friends, this is one of those times. The Oak Barrel Stout by Old Dominion Brewing Company is literally that good. The fact that I completely stumbled upon it by accident at a grocery store only adds to its awesomeness. Not only do I recommend it to all levels of beer drinkers, I highly suggest you seek it out with a vengeance. My only problem with the Oak Barrel Stout is that I didn't buy out every pack of it within walking distance when I had the chance. But that mistake is on me, not it. So I advise that you all learn from my mistake and if you see it, get it. I know that if I ever do again, there will be none left on the shelf when I'm done.

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Oak Barrel Stout by Old Dominion Brewing Co.
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