GOOSE ISLAND BIG JOHN - VINTAGE 2011
When I first had this beer back in 2011 upon its first release, it was so rich with milk chocolate that I couldn't believe how much chocolate flavor there was in it. I had experienced cocoa, dried cocoa powder, and chocolate malt flavors before, but nothing like milk chocolate. This was a first, and it was pretty awesome.
Since the first release, none of the releases have been as sweet and milk chocolate heavy. The flavor has been far more cocoa, to dark chocolate. Still a really great stout, but not exactly like the first coming. With this being bottled on 3.25.11, we are almost at exactly 3 years and it was time to see how the original fared over time.
Pouring jet black and allowing no light through this beast, it still maintains great carbonation and has a nice inch-thick brown cocoa head on it. The first smell gives toasted, dark malts and chocolate malt. You can almost pick up the dryness of the malt husks. Bitter chocolate looms over the aroma as coffee and dark fruit, mixed with a bit of fig come through. It almost reminds me of an old wooden box that held baking chocolate and ground coffee for a while. It has almost a wooden, earthy smell to it that seems a bit familiar. As it opens and warms, there is almost a hint of bourbon. Once agitated for a bit, the dark cocoa really starts to come through.
The taste isn't nearly as deep in milk chocolate as it was fresh. The cocoa nibs and the bitterness of dark chocolate are almost spot on to what the latest batches of this beer taste like when new. Dark cherry hits you as the beer passes on the back of the tongue, but is far from medicinal. The aftertaste is much like the lingering aftertaste of a sip of coffee that had a touch of cherry chocolate creamer in it. Nothing powerful, but just a bit of roasted grain and dark fruit with cocoa bitters. After sitting for a bit of time and agitation, the chocolate almost seems woken up and pissed he almost missed the party. it comes on a bit stronger, but only after a swirl and reformation of head.
This brew has continued to stay chocolate heavy but has become far more bitter cocoa than the original milk chocolate. There was a lot of buzz about this beer being too sweet when it first hit market so it's only assumed the recipe was dialed down after the first go. It's too bad, because this beer was excellent when fresh and remains quite good now after many years.
WHAT IS CELLARED?
Our CELLARED series aims to explore the world of aging beer and sharing the effects of time in the bottle. Bottles have been kept away from light and at temperatures between 44-60 degrees. Individual experiences may vary depending on storage environments.