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Hale’s Ales | Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

Hale's Ales Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
Katelyn Pelak

ABV: 9.9% | IBU: 26

Even in a beer-crazy neighborhood like the Ballard area of Seattle, Hale’s Ales stands out as a symbol of the early craft beer revolution. Mike Hale, the brewery’s founder, opened Hale’s Ales Brewery in 1983 and the brewery has been a staple of Pacific Northwest brewing ever since. In the sea of Ballard’s microbreweries, growlers, and flannel shirts, the large Brewery and Pub that has served as Hale’s Ales home base since 1995 suggests a permanence that promises to outlive last winter’s mustaches, this year’s beards, and whatever new facial fashions are donned by Ballard’s trendy, beer-loving residents in the years to come. That is why the Barrel Aged Imperial Stout is a great topic for today’s review – the beer is a magnificent representation of the boldness, the longevity, and the stoutness of the Hale’s Ales institution.

This is a stout for the lion-hearted. At 9.9% ABV, the beer smells even boozier than your typical barrel-aged stout. The head pours tan and thick and leaves generous trails on the glass. The color is an inky black and the beer is thick, almost viscous, in appearance. The nose is dominated by whiskey, with notes of caramel, toffee, chocolate, and roasted malts filling in the gaps.

The mouthfeel is my favorite part of this stout. It starts with a very light carbonation and the body is exceptionally creamy, soft and full-bodied. It’s so velvety and smooth, in fact, that it feels like a nitro, which was a wonderful and unexpected surprise after the strong bourbon presence in the nose. Flavors of roasted coconut, marshmallow, vanilla, and dark chocolate are complimented by a slight whiskey presence. The taste is complex but fairly sweet, with notes of roasted malt, oats, and brown sugar coming in to finish at the end.

Overall, the Barrel Aged Imperial Stout delivers a popular winter style with enough flavor to intrigue the hardcore stout drinkers and enough balance to please the traditionalists. The beer is a prime example of the brewing prowess that has made Hale’s Ales a mainstay in the Seattle area for over 30 years.

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