Been waiting for this one to hit the shelves since I learned about it back in September.

I believe Brau Brothers Rainwater Oak-Aged Stout is the first imperial they’ve offered, what they call a “Very Special Old Dark,” or VSOD. And I gotta say, for their first foray into this hefty category, I think Brau Brothers hit on a winner here.

The balance on the beer is superb…not too hot, not too sweet, a great interplay between the deep malt aromas and roasty flavors. Although it isn’t as “imperial” as some others in the mouthfeel, not as dense or chewy as I prefer, it’s a relatively minor gripe considering everything else this beer has going for it.

Jet black pour with a decent hoppiness in the nose. Cocoa, roasted coffee, wood, nuts and a distant smoke also come into the mix. Taste is pleasing with roasted barley, chocolate, and some bitterness. They aged the beer on Madeira oak, and it hangs out in the background, very subtle, still allowing the other aromas and flavors to shine through. The 10% ABV is very well masked, only a hint of its heat cutting through in the finish, making this one of the more drinkable imperial stouts I’ve had in some time.

Rating: A