Amanda: Is there anything more satisfying than sipping a rich barrel-aged stout on a snowy evening? That’s a hard no for me. In this review, we’d like to introduce you to Epic Brewing Company’s Big Bad Baptist, an imperial stout aged in whiskey barrels with coffee and cacao nibs. Epic uses a different coffee for every seasonal release, which gives each batch its own distinct twist. The amount of cacao nibs also varies, depending on how the beer develops during the barreling process. I love that Epic embraces such an experimental approach to this beer and couldn’t wait to see how it compared to past batches.
Sonora: Amanda and I had such a good time reviewing Ballast Point Pumpkin Down that we decided to do another one. While writing our last review, we talked about our love of barrel-aged beers; so that style was a natural choice for our next collaboration. Amanda suggested Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptist, a beer I’d never had before. I readily agreed, and after searching for a few weeks (the beer took awhile to get to Virginia), I found a bottle to try.
Amanda: No light passes through this beer. The body was motor-oil black with a caramel-colored head. Small- to medium-size bubbles formed on the top but quickly dissipated. Just looking at this beer warmed me right up.
Sonora: This beer poured dark and thick, almost cascading into the glass. It started to form a tan head on contact, which was maintained after pouring was done and through the first sip. After a few sips, the head turned into a rim; but a little bit remained until the last drop.
Amanda: Coffee was heavy on the nose with complementing notes of smoke and char. The whiskey came in on the end and became more prominent as it warmed. There was also a touch of vanilla sweetness.
Sonora: The first scent to hit my nose was fresh coffee. I also got some hints of roast and chicory. There was not much whiskey on the nose. If there was ever a breakfast beer, this would be it (though I’d recommend drinking this later in the day).
Amanda: The whiskey seemed lighter than previous batches. In this version, whiskey was more of an undertone, similar to its presence in the aroma. Of course, there was no missing the bold coffee and roasted malts, which left a subtle bitterness on the palate. While coffee was the dominant flavor, it was also well-balanced with oak as well as a touch of sweetness–almost like burnt sugar. Cocoa with hints of licorice rounded out the flavor profile.This complex beer came together nicely.
Sonora: As the scent suggested, the primary flavor I got was coffee. This beer had a very smooth coffee profile – nice and creamy, and not overly bitter. I got more whiskey on the aftertaste, as the beer left a bittersweet malty note behind that was neither coffee nor chocolate in nature. However, the whiskey was definitely an afterthought to the coffee in this beer. As such, this stout sips very smoothly for its 11.9% ABV.
Amanda: This is a full-bodied beer that left a creaminess on the tongue. That said, it’s not as syrupy as some barrel-aged imperial stouts. The carbonation is on the lower side, which is not surprising considering the style.
Sonora: The beer is smooth and velvety, and not too thick despite its strength. It stays with you in flavor and essence as opposed to stickiness. It leaves no bitter aftertaste, which is impressive given the combination of coffee and whiskey.
Amanda: If workers across America put this in their morning coffee mugs, the work force would be a happier bunch. I adore this beer, and I imagine nearly every coffee lover would appreciate Big Bad Baptist. If you’re in the market for other barrel-aged coffee stouts, I also recommend Avery Tweak and Great Divide Espresso Oak-Aged Yeti.
Sonora: This is an excellent coffee stout, and runs a good price for a high-ABV barrel-aged beer (I paid $9.99 for a bottle). I did not get a lot of whiskey, so don’t expect a boozy pint from this one. Some boozier favorites of mine include Hardywood Bourbon Sidamo, Heavy Seas Siren Noire, and Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. However, Big Bad Baptist tastes wonderful, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good stout. Also, we did a bonus pairing and had this beer alongside some delicious smoked salt caramels.