This week we do an interesting taste-off. Early on in this series of posts we reviewed the Brandy Barrel version of Hunahpu's Imperial Stout HERE. For this tasting we first tried Marshal Zhukov's Stout--the base RIS that gets the star treatment to make it into Hunahpu's spiced version. The bottle I had was from 2011 and was donated by my good friend Rob Wengler of Limited Release fame. Following this big beer we drank down Jim's bottle of 2014 Hunahpu's from 2014, lovingly retrieved directly from Hunahpu's Day in Florida that year.
We served these into snifters and let them warm up a bit before tasting. For this session we had me (BJCP judge, homebrewer, stout lover), Jim Stroner (Tin Whiskers Beer-Vangelist, craft beer geek), Dave Manley (homebrewer, learned beer geek), and Sarajo (my wife and fan of non-hoppy beers.)
Marshal Zhukov's Imperial Stout
This is a big bad Russian Imperial Stout named for one of Russia's greatest generals in WWII. Jim had tried this at GABF and it was one of his favorite beers of the day. We all got a load of oxidation in the beer and decided it was well past its prime. Our average rating was 3 out of 5. So I should have drunk this sooner and won't blame Cigar City for its less than stellar flavor profile.
Hunahpu's Imperial Stout 2014
Named after a Mayan mythological character who gave cocoa to humans, this beer is a strong RIS aged on cocoa nibs, Madagascar vanilla beans, cinnamon, and pasilla and ancho chili peppers. This version is not barrel aged. RateBeer and Beer Advocate give this beer a solid 100 rating. People wait in lines overnight for the release of this special black nectar.
Eric: Some alcohol right up front. Cocoa, mild chili flavors. Vanilla increases as this warms up. Hint of coffee. Deep and rich aroma that makes me really want to skip writing and just drink up!
Jim: Spice is the first thing I get.
Dave: Cinnamon, cocoa, chili, vanilla, coconut?
Eric: Black as night. Fine deep and dark tan head that fades fairly fast.
Dave: Black, not as viscous as Zhukov's. Little carbonation, wispy head.
Eric: Intense!!! Mix of cocoa (dry and dark), mild vanilla, cinnamon. Finishes with a mellow earthy burn. Booze is present but not overly hot alcohol (just hot from chili!) Roasted coffee notes in the middle. Body is pretty thick and mouth coating. Sweet, but balanced by bitterness and spicing to not seem overly cloying. Seems like this is bourbon barrel aged. Very little oxidation.
Jim: Cinnamon/spice. Fruit. Chilies. Finished with chocolate and vanilla.
Dave: I can pick out all the parts at different times. Some heat at the end, but not too much. Coconut? Tropical?
Eric: Amazing beer! That is all. 5
Jim: A lot going on--well done! 4.5
Dave: Strangely, this is more than the sum of its (many) parts. I want this on a tropical beach with fish tacos. 4.25
Sarajo: Still just as good! 4.75
Overall Score: 4.625
This is one of my favorite beers of all time. Not because it is rare (I've had less than splendid things to say about many of these rare beers) but because as Dave said, "It is more than the sum of its parts." We tasted Prairie Bomb! in a previous week HERE and while that had similar flavoring, it just didn't meld into something as sublime as Hunahpu's.