Imperial Oak Quiet Giant Release | Five Anniversary Variants for Five Years
Deep Woods. Boathouse Reserve. Bourbon County. Barrel Aged Imperial Pajamas. Quiet Giant. The maturation and evolution of Chicago-Area craft breweries has not included a drift away from the style created in the Windy City — Bourbon Barrel Aging. And, breweries that have gained named recognition in the past few years commonly release of a lauded, coveted and oft-cellared BBA. For Imperial Oak Brewing, a continually expanding suburban-Chicago brewery that’s recently added an entire space dedicated to Foeders and other barrels (The Savage Oak Room), its best-selling beer is Quiet Giant. Each year, the beer once deemed a PorchDrinking.com favorite at Beer Under Glass (BUG) in 2017 arrives just in time for both BUG and its summertime anniversary party. This year Imperial Oak has five variants; one for each year its been open.
We at PorchDrinking were privvy to a special preview before Beer Under Glass, and are pleased to share our findings with you.
Quiet Giant Aged Two Years in Bourbon Barrels
The “2-year-in-Bourbon” variant presents a little thicker mouthfeel than the customary 12-month variety, and it’s a wee bit sweeter (although nothing that resembles a pastry stout). As you might expect, the beer offers a more robust ABV, too, with a nice boozy bite at the end.
In this writer’s opinion, the 2-Year Quiet Giant exemplifies the BA style; no adjuncts, plenty of barrel character, and a lovely dance between spirit and beer — pure and delicious.
Quiet Giant, Dual Barreled (seven months in bourbon, three months in brandy)
The brandy (a spirit involving fermented grapes/wine) provides discernible fruit notes within the beer and gives the beer a dry finish, giving it the feel of a wine or brandy, for sure.
For both the mixology fan and the true barrel-aging aficionado, this is a must-taste. The nuances provided by the brandy-barrel finish are something to behold. Of all the variants, the bourbon & brandy barrel combination exists as the most complex of the bunch, yet remains remarkably light on the tongue — a beautiful beer.
Quiet Giant with Ten Drops Coffee (aged one year in bourbon barrels)
The coffee brewed by Ten Drops provides a bit of roastiness that accents the beer rather than overwhelm it. Interestingly, there’s a touch of (perceived) dark chocolate flavor, too (though the beer contains no actual chocolate). The melding of the dual brewed, bourbon-barreled Quiet Giant results in a splendid beer that hits on several flavor notes and aromas.
Quiet Giant with Coconut & Cinnamon (aged one year in a blend of bourbon barrels)
The cinnamon aroma immediately hits the nose, followed by a nice dose of spicy, slightly sweet, cinnamon flavor along with a delicate coconut flavor — the two adjuncts marry well. The booziness in this variant is a tad more muted than the others, which allows the base stout to come through a bit. However, the bourbon comes in at the end, which makes for one supurb, well-rounded beer.
Not only did I love this particular beer, but it continues a trend of breweries knocking out stellar cinnamon BBA variants such as the Begyle BBA Flannel Pajamas with Cinnamon, Horse Thief Hollow BA Cinnamon Girl, and Half Acre Benthic with Coconut and Cinnamon All of them outstanding and seemingly better each year, yet each one a little different. That’s a “trend” this writer can get behind!
Quiet Giant Blueberry and Rye (aged one year in rye barrels)
Blueberry can be a tricky ingredient to master. This Quiet Giant offers the beauty of the blueberry without any awful, syrupy-sweetness. Instead, the Quiet Giant blueberry variant presents tartness and subtle, natural blueberry-sweet notes that accentuate the boozy, barrel flavors. The rye lurks in the background a bit, playing a supporting role to the stout and blueberry.
Try at least three of the variants as part of a “horizontal” tasting. The real beauty in this year’s Quiet Giant release involves its differences, variant to variant. The base beer remains prominent in each version, so the adjuncts and barrel differences simply allow for a few twists on the base beer.
While at Beer Under Glass (May 10, the kickoff to Illinois Craft Beer Week), more beer fans seemed to gravitate towards the coffee version than the cinnamon, but they are clearly wrong since nothing EVER tops cinnamon.
Kidding, of course, but it reminds us all that flavors are subjective.
What matters is that Quiet Giant provides yet another example for why Chicago beer fans have come to love the style that started long ago with Goose Island in the ‘80s and now its serving as an anchor beer for several well-known breweries. The well-executed beer is not only good on its own, but well-deserving of existing among one’s year-long quest to sample the excellent takes on the BBA style. If you love BBA, you’ll appreciate (and probably love) Quiet Giant.
High Five Quiet Giant Anniversary Party
From the Imperial Oak Facebook Five-Year Anniversay Event Page:
5 YEARS = 5 VARIANTS!
To celebrate five years as a brewery, we will be releasing five variants of our barrel-aged anniversary stout, “Quiet Giant.” Save the date for our big party on June 1. We’ll have the big top up, lots of food trucks, and plenty of delicious beverages!
Note: There will be hourly BA tappings and a cocktail tent, too.
Also: We’ll be tapping a few goodies on Friday as we warm up for the Quiet Giant release on Saturday at 11am. (More details to come as the date approaches.)