Tasting Notes: Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout (2018) from Rogue Ales

RogueRollingThunder2018_editedAfter barreling through another awesome week of beer news, we close it out in proper fashion by jotting down some Tasting Notes on Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout (2018) from Rogue Ales (Newport, Oregon).

Just last week, we hit you with the news that Rogue Ales had officially begun the limited release of its Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout (2018).  If you happened to miss that post, Rolling Thunder can basically be summed up as a massive Imperial Stout “brewed with ingredients grown at Rogue Farms, and then ocean aged for nine months in barrels made by hand at Rogue’s Rolling Thunder Barrel Works.”  The house-made Dead Guy Whiskey that once filled those barrels lends notes of whiskey and vanilla to complement the base beer’s dark roasted malts while raspberries – the special ingredient for 2018 – provide a unique thread of lightly tart sweetness.

Rolling Thunder is available now for a limited time in 16.9 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer establishments located throughout Rogue’s nationwide distribution footprint.

That should just about catch everyone up on this release, so let’s keep this thing rollin’ and get into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout (2018) from Rogue Ales

Appearance: From a bottle hand-numbered as Barrel #4 of 17 & Bottle #249 of 413, Rolling Thunder pours an inky black in color and has just over a finger of creamy, chocolate milk colored foam resting on top.  The beer is completely opaque and remains so when held directly against a light source.  Head retention is good, but the foam does eventually fall to a thin but lasting top cap.  The beer itself does leave a yellow-tinged slick on the glass after each sip, but some spots of lace are just stubborn enough to grab hold sporadically throughout the experience.

Aroma:  The aromatics begin with a defined sherry presence that is loaded with nutty and sweet dark fruit character. This elegant note gracefully transitions into a subtle raspberry tone that is quickly overtaken by a closing barrage of roasted malts, bittersweet chocolate, vanilla and oak.

Taste:  The barrel grabs your attention first here with a big ol’ pop of vanilla and oaky whiskey.  This shifts into those sweet sherry notes of dark fruit (fig mostly) and molasses.  The raspberries are slightly jammy and pull double duty by bringing both complementary sweetness and a contrasting dose of tartness.  Those bright raspberries refresh the palate just as the beer stoutly settles in with satisfying, decadent notes of caramel, brown sugar, roasted grains, dark chocolate, and fudge studded with pecans.

Mouthfeel:  Full bodied with a moderate carbonation level, this enormous Imperial Stout has a chewy, viscous feel to it.  The beer takes its time on the palate, allowing the flavors to linger and fully develop at their own pace.  Sitting at 14.4%, the ABV certainly has a presence that establishes a building warmth in the throat and belly.  The aftertaste is all vanilla, chocolate and booze-soaked oak.

Final Thoughts:  From the first sip, it is quite evident that Rogue built this year’s Rolling Thunder to come out swingin’ and clear a place for itself among the highest echelon of barrel-aged Imperial Stouts.  It achieves this with an artful composition that sandwiches that raspberry addition between oaky whiskey notes and the base stout’s chocolaty, roasty goodness.  Simply put, this Imperial Stout is pretty much a whiskey-infused raspberry truffle . . . and it is heavenly.

Over the last 30 years, Rogue has amassed a long list of beers that have become standards in the industry, and we confidently predict that this year’s version will add Rolling Thunder to that list.  Yeah . . . it is that good, and you need to get your hands on a bottle or pour of Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout (2018) before this Limited Release dries up.  Make it happen.  Prost!