Inland Empire Brewing Company - 2014 Rivertuckyin Products
The name Rivertucky 2014 Reserve Series Imperial Stout is an interesting one for sure.
I had to ask Paul Murphy, the brewmaster at Inland Empire Brewing Company to get the full story on it. Turns out that there are two stories to the name; the first is that it is based on an amalgamation of Riverside, where the beer is brewed, and Kentucky, where the bourbon barrels came from. The second story you will have to ask him yourself but trust me it’s worth asking as he’ll pour himself a beer and tell you all about it! If he’s not available, ask for David Hiebert for the complete history.
Rivertucky 2014 Reserve Series Imperial Stout was aged in Maker’s Mark and Wild Turkey barrels for 12 months. These two separate barrel programs were expertly blended together to create a single, cohesive beer that has an incredibly complex, interesting and inspiring flavor and aroma unlike most other beers in its style.
Inland Empire Brewing Company
Rivertucky 2014 Reserve Series
Imperial Stout aged in Oak Bourbon Barrels
OG: 1.140 (not a typo)
Rivertucky comes packaged in a most peculiar way; a brown paper bag deftly folded around a 22 oz. bomber, held at the top with a segment of twin with a simple. The bag itself is printed with tasting notes, statistics and the Inland Empire Brewing Company logo. I’ve brewed beer for a long time and I know the frustration of bottling, I can only imagine the time that it must have taken to print, fold and tie down with twine each of these bottles.
The attention to detail for this packaging is incredible. Upon unveiling the bottle from the rustic paper bag is a hand numbered and signed bottle label that has stylish and classy text. The Stout on the bottle is the in the forefront as it should be because stout is what this beer is!
The beer is as black as one expects from an imperial porter that has been aged properly in oak barrels. It’s completely jet black, I held a flashlight up to one side of the glass and there wasn’t even a hint of light on the other side. The head pours a smooth tan, the color of almond shells and is comprised of a thick mousse. It lingers for a little while but after a couple of minutes the high alcohol seems to get the better of the head but leaves a trace of the glory that used to be in the form of a Belgian lace. A swirl of the glass will coax up a thin tan head but it diminishes pretty quickly after that initial pour.
Initially Rivertucky was pulled from the fridge and relaxed in room temperature while I took the initial photos of the bottle and bag it was served in. I started drinking the beer and it was around 40F I was picking up notes of chocolate, hints of caramel, light notes of coffee and gigantic amounts of bourbon. This is what I expect from a beer of this style!
What got me even more interested is that as the beer warms up, the volatile compounds start to become more pronounced and include dark fruits like prune and lighter vanilla notes. Rivertucky become more interesting the warmer that it got to be sure! Make sure to serve this a little warmer than you normally would serve a beer, I would recommend no cooler than 50F to make sure that you are getting the full wheelhouse of aromas.
Similar to the aroma initially this beer was a bourbon bomb, and to some it always will be; but look closer, dig in a little deeper and you will be impressed with the nuanced flavor that this beer achieves. There are pronounced notes of chocolate highlighted by lightly roasted coffee with an undertone of smooth vanilla and toffee.
Amazingly there is a sweetness left in this beer, a testament to the amount of sugar that had to be in this from the day it was brewed. Even with the relatively high 84 IBUs I can’t detect any hop flavor at all and the hop bitterness is really subdued, I think that just like the head, the alcohol got the better of the bitterness!
As the beer continues to warm the dark fruit flavors come front and center. The prune is still very noticeable like in the aroma but there are other fruits coming up like plums, figs and raisins. Interestingly there is an almost tobacco like richness with this beer. With the sweetness in the flavor and the fruit flavors it reminds me of a dish that could be served as dessert for thanksgiving.
The body of this beer is thick but not like syrup. It coats the mouth and throat after each sip and stays there for a good minute or two. Even while taking a 5 minute break to type of sections of this article the flavor is still there, lingering on the back of my tongue. The carbonation level is moderate and seems to wake up the taste buds on each sip.
This beer is luxurious. The coating effect of the mouthfeel causing lingering fruit and bourbon notes creates a pure sipping beer meant for a special occasion. The Rivertucky line is Inland Empire Brewing Company’s annual release that are all barrel aged for a full year. The bottles of this are limited to 1,000 with the crafty paper bag cover, 999 now that I’ve enjoyed bottle 378.
The only place to get this beer is from the Inland Empire Brewing Company tasting room (a link to their website including directions to their tap room is in the bottom of this article). You may be able to find a keg or two at a local bar but in reality you need to get the bottle in the brown paper bag for the full effect. While you are there make sure to get the Headsplitter Sour, it’s the best hangover cure that I’ve found in a while!
This beer gets a solid 4.8 out of 5 from me. The dark fruit notes are unlike almost all other bourbon barrel aged beers. I’ve had bourbon barrel aged beers that taste like chocolate/bourbon brownies (read Taps Remy) or marshmallow/brownies (read Bottle Logic Darkstar November) but the complexity of this beer is a rarity. I love the unique aspects of this beer and will be disappointed when this bottle is completely gone. One note, enjoy this beer with a friend because at 16% ABV it should be savored and enjoyed with company who enjoy big beers.
About Inland Empire Brewing Company:
Since 2009 Inland Empire Brewing Company has been creating ales and lagers in Riverside. Inland Empire Brewing Company offers a dozens of beers include 6 that are always on tap with other variants on an as-available basis. They are located approximately 2 miles north of downtime Riverside, CA and can be found at multiple bars, restaurants and liquor stores throughout southern California. Check them out on their website at www.iebrew.com or on Facebook or Twitter!