Beer by the Grill: Lagunitas High West-ified Imperial Coffee Stout

Beer by the Grill: Lagunitas High West-ified Imperial Coffee Stout
A rye barrel-aged imperial coffee stout

Feb. 11: Maybe it’s the comet acting in concert with the lunar eclipse this week, but darn if it’s not half way warm this weekend. Downtown, there’s an ice-carving festival, and by 1 pm, all the sponsored sculptures that were installed in the morning have been halfway melted. It’s 4 pm now as I start this article, and there’s still daylight.

And there’s 3 pounds of Tri-Tip Steak in my freezer calling my name.

But it’s not really THAT warm out, what with the cloud cover staying around. So let’s open a warming beer that has been sent to me by the brewer’s PR people.

This is the last in Lagunitas’ 2016 One-Hitter series, although the first of the 2017 has also come my way. High West-ified Imperial Coffee Stout is so called because it’s been aged 17 months in rye barrels from High West Distillery of Park City, UT. The label has it at 12.2% abv.

I get a very deep brown to black pour with a tan head that sticks around longer than most big stouts. Maybe having it fresh helps. The nose is a nice warming Kahlua sensation, with no bitter roastiness. Plenty of alcohol that tells me that form my own sake, I should be glad I’m only having one 12-ounce bottle.

The taste follows along with the smell. It’s just a few steps down in strength from a coffee liqueur—and oddly, they aren’t mentioning the roaster for the coffee on the label, but their website says it's Chicago's very own Metropolis Coffee. As with the nose, there is no excess bitterness from hops, or from roasted black malt. And there are some side notes of bourbon and vanilla from the barrels this has sat in.

This beer is still popping in up bars and at the many Stout-oriented beer events in our area, and it’s definitely something I’d say to try out. I’m also glad I’m having this now because even though the weather bug on my computer says it’s 49°, it still feels ridiculously cold to sit outside and try to guess when a three pound hunk of meat has been properly cooked.

New contest lets winners fly to Lagunitas for a Jet Set tour.

New contest lets winners fly to Lagunitas for a Jet Set tour.

Meantime, I should also mention that I got a HUGE box on my doorstep this past week. Hooray, I thought; someone's finally sent me one of those countertop homebrew machines to try out. Instead, it's this cardboard airplane and a PanAm-blue flight bag to promote the brewer's BeerPlane contest. Through February 28, Lagunitas is offering a chance to win a free trip to the Petaluma, CA brewery, witha brewery tour, of course, and a live music show at their "LaguMiniAmphitheaterette."

You just need to go to the Lagunitas BeerPlane site linked above, and again here, because wottheheck. A total of 12 Grand Prize trips will be given away, while another 100 entrants will get this retro flight bag, which I hope is resized for today's overhead compartment restrictions. Since I already have the bag, I guess you won't have to compete against my devastatingly obtuse sense of humor.

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    Mark McDermott

    Writer, trivia maven, fan of many things. I thought to learn all there is to know about beer as a way to stay interested in learning. It is my pleasure to bring Chicago's craft beer scene to you.

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