Glassware: Rich and luscious stouts such as Ten Fidy Bourbon Barrel-Aged require glassware that allows the beer to warm slowly and trap the alluring aroma. Spiegelau has a stout glass that works great, but a snifter will suffice. The most important aspect with proper glassware is the subtle tapering to trap the aroma.
Description: Ten Fidy pours a deep jet black that resembles thick oil with a creamy brown head that lingers. The aroma is bourbon forward with notes of coconut, vanilla and oak nestled in hints of chocolate, toffee, coffee and ripe dark red fruits. The taste follows the nose with strong bourbon notes on the palate, followed by sweet notes of chocolate, toffee, and caramel. Coffee and dark red fruits round out the experience. There is a strong inherent sweetness in the beer but the bitter roasted malts maintain perfect balance. There is a very subtle alcohol heat, but not enough to detract from the drinking experience. The full body and moderate carbonation are textbook and give the beer a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. This is a beer that is best enjoyed, not described, as words cannot truly do it justice. Any fan of barrel-aged beers must try one.
Food Pairing: The strong coffee, bourbon and chocolate flavors are great with any dessert, but this pairs well with red meats. Try pairing with a coffee-rubbed steak topped with creamy bleu cheese. The coffee rub adds a touch of bitterness and highlights the rich, roasted malts while the bleu cheese and chocolate meld together for a truly divine experience. The beer has enough heft to scrub the palate clean. This is a great beer for desserts; the creamier the better. Try with cheesecake, any topping will do, however chocolate, cherry and caramel are especially enjoyable. The sweetness from the beer come to the forefront in any dessert pairing, but the balance is perfect between hints of bourbon and roasted malts. This is a great beer to experiment with as the strong flavors and mouthfeel allow this beer to hold its own against a wide array of dishes.
The Final Word: Ten Fidy is a beer that many craft lovers are familiar with. It is a beloved staple in the craft beer market. The brewery has been brewing a barrel-aged version of this stout as an exclusive but it is now available to the national market. If you are a fan of stouts, barrel-aged beers, or beers with a kick, this is a must have beer for you. The barrel aging adds a rich complexity to a beer already fairly complex. Despite the richness, it is a surprisingly drinkable beer; be careful of the high ABV as it will sneak up on you, especially when being poured from the larger than average stovepipe can. Be on the look out for Ten Fidy Barrel Aged Java for a similar beer with a big coffee kick!
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.
Brewer: Oskar Blues
Beer: Ten Fidy Bourbon Barrel Aged
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 12.90 %