We’ve come a long way and learned a lot, but all good things must come to an end. In what has been the longest relationship I have had with a batch of beer, I can now declare it done. It has been almost six weeks since The Lusty Owauku went into bottles. By any measure, this beer is ready.
Ready for what? To get you drunk, that’s what!
I mean, it’s ready to be sampled, to have its massive depth and interplay of flavors explored and enjoyed to the fullest. Yes, that’s it.
Actually, it’s both.
First of all, this beer is a beast. According to my calculations, it clocks in at an astonishing 10.9% ABV. That is as strong as wine. In my samplings, I have poured it as such, using wine glasses or goblets, rather than beer glasses of any variety. One reason for this is to encourage sipping–when was the last time you saw someone chug out of a wine glass (challenge accepted!) ? Another reason is that the shape gathers the aroma of this beer, which, in a massive beer like this, contributes much more significantly than, say, a pale lager.
So, this mighty rye imperial stout, which I have dubbed The Lusty Owauku in honor of my frenemy, the inimitable Sam Sykes, and his delightful novels from which its name is derived, is ready for consumption. What can we expect?
You can expect to have your socks knocked off.
As with most imperial stouts, this one pours liquid black, with a fine, thin brown head. Though, when you hold it up to light, you can catch the faintest glimmer of burnt red around the edges of the glass. The aroma has rich, earthy, malty sweetness, backed by the bite of alcohol. When first sipping, you get kicked in the balls by the syrupy sweet malt character of the stout, but as you roll it around your mouth, other flavors announce themselves. First comes the coffee and chocolate notes, then the grassy, earthy bite of the rye, which is by no means strong, but it is there. Then a remarkable spiciness builds on your tongue. It’s so strong that it’s almost begins to burn, and it is a testament to the powerful Summit and Cascade hops used in this recipe. This tempers the syrupy-thick sweetness, but cannot overwhelm it, nor can the powerful note of alcohol each sip brings with it. The finish is sweet and saturating, and leaves you wanting more.
In my estimation, The Lusty Owauku lives up to its namesake. There is a delightful hedonism in this beer, as the interplay of flavors is at once complex and flagrant. There’s so much going on that you could enjoy it for its massive, up-front qualities, or hunt down the subtler flavors in aromas hidden in its depths. Each bottle should be shared with several friends; each will have his or her own unique experience, all in their own way positive.
Well, except for the guy who barfs. But everyone else can laugh at his expense.
And that’s it for The Lusty Owauku. The only thing left to do is to let this beer sit in my basement and mature; its flavor palette will change slightly over the months, and since this beer is so high in alcohol and so strongly hopped, there is no reason it cannot keep for a couple of years. Actually, I don’t see this batch lasting that long, but it’s nice to dream.
And you know what? I was wrong just then; there is another task I must undertake. I must share this lofty beer with its lofty inspiration. Only then will the journey of The Lusty Owauku be complete. Happily, the beer will keep until that time.