Our 2014 Commander Imperial Stout is hitting private liquor store shelves this week. For those lucky enough to have, or find, a 2013 Commander, a year of aging has matured it beautifully. Based on a year’s evaluation and feedback, brewmaster Tony has tweaked the recipe to make it more accessible for those eager to immediately drink this robust stout. Nevertheless, this style was meant to make the sea voyage to the Baltic and Caribbean by sail, so we recommend getting more than one to experience how the flavour of the brew evolves with age. Enjoy the journey, and be sure to savour it slowly in a snifter at its port of destination.
This rich, complex stout features a deep, layered malt profile enhanced by slightly sweet flavours of white oak, molasses, and star anise. All of these flavours combine to create an elaborate Imperial Stout suitable for enjoying today and made for cellaring to be enjoyed down the road.
By design, imperial stouts improve with age. Those who opened a 2013 Commander right away, naturally found the flavours intense, even overwhelming, because like many wines, it was missing the element of time to finish the job. Recognizing that many people want to dive right into the beer once they buy it, I modified this year’s recipe to make it more drinkable earlier on. I halved the molasses, doubled the brown sugar, and took the star anise way down. Bourbon and a mixture of American and French white oak chips were added to give it the greater complexity you get with barrel aging.
Those who enjoy their absinthe or ouzo may miss the bold licorice of the young 2013 Commander. For the rest, I think you’ll find the 2014 easier on the palate when opening right away. Still, I recommend allowing it to age as intended for the style. Buy a few and have some fun seeing how the Commander matures over time.
“The Commander offers a barrage of aromas for you to dissect… Just as the nose suggests, complexity is the existence of this beer. The dominant smells of the Commander do in fact command the flavour. But it’s the nuances where this beer really earns its decorative status.”
“I was not overly impressed the first time I tried this beer [2013 Commander], but thank god I gave it another try a year later! A year in the cellar makes a world of difference with this stout. On first taste I found it just big and boring and overly boozy. But after 12 months, it has developed tons of complexity, big smooth Dutch liquorice, with molasses and brown sugar notes.”
—Caroline N. Carter, Beer Advocate
o Ingredients: water, malted barley, hops, yeast, brown sugar, molasses, star anise,
o Malts: Great Western, Northwest Pale Ale, Special B, Cara 60, Cara 80, Aromatic,
o Hops: Nugget
o IBU: 65
o ABV: 10.5%
o Serving temperature: 12-14°C
o Recommended glass: snifter
o Food pairing: venison with berries, dark chocolate, fruit desserts, vanilla ice cream white oak Black, Roast Barley, Chocolate for a beer float