Abita is pretty much the OG of Louisiana microbrewers, but I don't mind saying that they maybe got a little complacent through the late 90s and early aughts. I mean yeah, the basics -- Amber, Purple Haze, Turbodog, etc... -- are all fantastic, and Strawberry kind of set the tone for the spring seasonal. But as more other breweries popped up around the state like NOLA, Parish, etc...They began to suffer a bit in comparison. I'm sure there was a bit of a psychological "new toy" factor involved, but the lack of new offerings began to stand out.
But in the last year, they've stepped their game back up with some new regulars and an increased focused on the seasonals. We covered one over the summer, and this fall they came out with a new round of a couple of specialty imperial brews that are available in 22-oz bombers.
Here's one of the imperials, the Bourbon Street Imperial Stout:
Bourbon Street Stout is an Imperial Stout that is aged in Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon barrels. Our Imperial Stout is brewed with a combination of pale, caramel, chocolate and roasted malts. Oats are also added to give the beer a fuller and sweeter taste. The roasted malts give the beer its dark color as well as its intense flavor and aroma. After fermentation the beer is cold aged for 6 weeks. This is necessary for all of the flavors of the malt and hops to balance and produce a very smooth flavor. After the cold aging the beer is transferred into the bourbon barrels. It is then aged for another 8 weeks to absorb all of the flavors from the barrels. The result is a strong stout that brings out the roasted flavors from the malt and the warming toasted, vanilla, and bourbon flavors from the barrels.
As a bourbon-barrel stout this sucker is obviously higher ABV than the typical beer, at eight percent.
The beer reminds me a lot of Turbodog in that the pour doesn't stand out as heavily as you might think from a thick stout. But the bouquet really socks you in the nose -- rich of the roasted malts, along with that extra sting of the alcohol from the Pappy barrel. Doesn't lie to you on the first taste, either, with that heavy, slightly bitter coffee flavor. But it transitions pretty quickly into that kind of molasses-y sweetness of the bourbon. Not enough to overpower, but noticeably. The sweetness lingers well and balances with malts on the back end. Doesn't have a heavy texture, but with the extra alcohol this one will linger with you. Enough that it's not really something you want to drink in sessions.
Overall, it's a solid and very reasonably priced bourbon stout. Not the best I've had, but a good starter if you've never had one before. I give it 3.5 out of five stars.