One of the more anticipated and boundary-pushing beer that has hit the prairie market in recent weeks is Half Pints’ Le Temps Noir. An Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels, it is intended to be intense and intimidating. Even the label demonstrates this, with a barrel hanging by a noose. The name evokes post-revolutionary France.
The beer was aged a whopping 8 months in barrels and clocks in at 9.6% alcohol. This is some beer. Do not trifle with it, especially since it comes only in 650 ml bottles.
What am I talking about? Let me tell you. This is an inky black beer with a thick, dense dark tan head that seems like it would stay for weeks. What I pick up in the aroma is a dizzying combination of rich bourbon alcohol, dark roast, vanilla, pulled taffy, wood, chocolate and musty barn. And then there is the warning from the alcohol – a sharp scotch-like pungency in your nose.
You take a sip and the first thing you pick up is bourbon. Bourbon comes out big time. There is a stout under there, I am sure. And it seems like it was pretty good when it went in, but after 8 months it came out a different puppy. The beer allows an alcoholic warming, some oak notes, vanilla, dark chocolate and hints of coffee that has sat on the burner a bit too long. The linger is big on bourbon and slick dark malt. There are hops in this beer, but it is hard to tell as there is too much else going on. This is a complex, rich and enticing beer. The bourbon really sharpens and thins the stout character, but without losing its overall identity.
I find this beer dangerously enticing and drinkable. This is one of those beer that might the next morning make you want to hang from a noose if you imbibe too much.
Respect this beer. Because you don’t at your own peril. But be sure to try it, as you will be equally unhappy to have missed it.