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Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week": Browning's Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Feb 20, 2008 7:00PM


Longtime "BotW" readers might remember that we reviewed a barley wine last spring from Louisville's Browning's Brewery. We bought it retail in town but, after making a phone call to the brewmaster in Louisville, didn't disclose where we made the purchase for fear of outing the store in question for selling booze outside the three-tier distribution system.

During a New Year's Day discussion with the store owner, Mitch Einhorn of Lush Wine & Spirits, we discovered that he did, in fact, come about the beer legally. While Mitch Einhorn owns Lush (and the Twisted Spoke) his brother Cliff and wife Roberta own the distributor, Wine-O-Rama, from whom he purchases the beer. It isn't uncommon to find this sort of arrangement where one family member owns the retailer while another owns a wholesaler; it's worked well for the Ebel Brothers of Two Brothers fame for years. Digressing, we recently purchased a bomber of Browning's Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout at Lush (for $6.50, we believe). The quality of this beer makes us want to take a road trip to Louisville even more.

This beer has a ton of oak on the nose, one reviewer at the Rate Beer forums described it as having "a shot of Jack Daniels go straight up your nose." You can see the color and head from the photo. That foam left wonderful lacing on the glass. We noticed chocolate and sour mash on the palate, along with dark fruit imparted from the oak. Interestingly, the beer left no signs of the dryness we expected from an barrel aged beer. The beer also tasted better chilled than at room temp, unlike other barrel aged stouts. Overall, this was a good selection.

Since Lush has two locations, it should be fairly easy to find this beer. The Maxwell Street location (where we purchased our bottle) always seems to have it in stock. So head down and try out a bottle of this week's "Beer of the Week" for size.