Additional note 02/03/23 (pictured)
A cloudier, more brownish/orange color than the red garnet noted in 2009 below. Head is excellent this time around too, with good retention and some fantastic lace. All in alll it looks quite different to what it did 14 years ago. Updated label of course as well.
Chewy and substantial in the mouth, with the drier element this time around, and bettered retention, the beer feels substantial even though this is listed at 8.0% rather than the original 9.0%.
Not quite as sweet as my notes below would suggest eatery, with a big caramel base that is not cloying, but has larger elements of drying oak than previously noted.
Original notes 08/29/09
$10.99 from Hop City, Atlanta, GA, USA for the 550 mL bottle.
Pour is a suprisingly bright, garnet red color which encourages me. Head is short lived and even knowing about the bottle conditioning, the beer seems rather fizzy by many standards. This detracted from the mouthfeel for me. It was a bit prickly for me.
Plenty of classic maltiness but coupled with vanilla and oak notes. The oak is rather pleasingly sweet as opposed to dry, and in that respect the beer avoids some of the usual pitfalls associated with similar beer. Nice sweetness sits against a mellowed bitterness to form a very rounded picture. I agree with others in terms of a fig presence (slightly surprising) but of course the caramel, biscuit sweetness is just what I would expect for a beer with this malt base – no surprise there.
I enjoyed this a bit more than I thought I would, but at the price point I cannot see myself buying this very often, if ever, again. Good beer but not good value.