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pick of the week

Great Lakes Brewery Bourbon Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout, Ontario Add to ...

  • Rating 91
  • Price $14.95/750 ml

Great Lakes, based in Toronto, rolled out four specialty beers to commemorate its 25th anniversary this year, and this is the last. The brewery brought in freshly emptied bourbon barrels from Kentucky and let the dark brew mingle with the whisky-soaked wood for three months. It may have soaked up a splash of alcohol as well as charred-whisky flavour; the count on this monster is 11 per cent. Rich, smooth and noticeably strong, it has a creamy texture, with moderate-to-low carbonation, typical of the Russian imperial stout style. There is a lot to admire here: prune, cherry, molasses, dark-roast coffee and solid hopped-up bitterness. For me, it conjured up chocolate cake with cherries soaked in Buffalo Trace bourbon. Serve it in a tulip-shaped stem, the sort you’d use for wine – or maybe a shot glass if the alcohol seems intimidating. It’s selling quickly in Ontario liquor stores.

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