Maplewood Barrel Aged Cuppas
Maplewood has finally joined the barrel-aged can game with their first two releases happening – coincidentally – the weekend of the Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers. Whereas as breweries like Revolution and Mikerphone release theirs in a 12 ounce format, Maplewood’s going the Goose Island-like route with 16 ounce cans (Bourbon County is technically 16.9 ounce bottles). Their first release consists of two different barrel-aged takes on their Cuppa imperial stout. Cuppa has had almost every adjunct you could think of it thrown at it – S’mores, Neapolitan, Peanut Butter, Oreo – heck, we even had their Mexican Chocolate at our anniversary party. This release features one that they’ve made before – Breakfast – and one that’s completely new – Cinnamon Coconut.
Cuppa Barrel Aged Breakfast | 14%
Cuppa Barrel Aged Breakfast is aged in Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace, and Woodford Reserve barrels for over one year, then conditioned on Metric coffee, maple syrup, vanilla, and cacao nibs. It’s everything your mom told you not to have at breakfast, but in liquid form with alcohol. Bring on the cartoons!
Breakfast pours a thick black with a finger of light brown head (“creamy coffee head”) that dissipates quickly. There’s a sheen on the top of the beer from all the adjuncts that reminds me of my high school swimming pool, except the pool was sheened with hair gel and not barrel aged stout (would’ve made those 20 laps we had to do a whole lot more fun and challenging!). Swirling it around stains the glass a light brown color. First sniffs are dominated by bourbon and roasty coffee, while subsequent sniffs reveal more chocolate or brownie notes and some very sweet maple syrup. Or, you know, unhealthy breakfast.
Chocolate and vanilla dominate the palate, with the maple syrup sweetness there but kept in check to not render the beer too sweet. There’s some roasty character, but this beer is by no means coffee-forward, and the bourbon is there, but not too hot to keep you from drinking it. But you do know you’re drinking a high alcohol beer. The mouthfeel, however, is on the thin side for a 14% barrel aged beer, but not thin enough for me to call shinanegans. But that mouthfeel definitely affects the lingering taste, as most of the flavors fly off the tongue very fast, leaving only some roasty notes and the bourbon behind.
Overall, a good barrel aged adjunct stout. The adjunct exist in balance and it thankfully doesn’t get too sweet, but the beer leaves too fast and the bourbon is present enough to make it a little boozy. But I guess that’s a good thing?
Cartoon pairing: Captain N:The Game Master. Gone too soon! Poor Eggplant Wizard.
Cuppa Barrel Aged Cinnamon Coconut | 14%
For their other release, Maplewood decided to go with the same barrel aged Cuppa as Breakfast – Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve – but instead of unhealthy breakfast, they conditioned it on cinnamon and toasted coconut and then enter it in FoBAB. What a difference the adjuncts make.
Much like Breakfast, Cinnamon Coconut pours a thick black, but with only a half finger of light brown head that goes away even more quickly; it also stains the glass and has that “swimming pool hair gel” sheen. Smelling this beer is like going to your favorite bakery. It reminds me of the Cinnabon smells at the mall that always punctuated my Electronics Boutique excursions, although I’ve never partook in its cinnabon-ly goodness; or a sweet samoa cookie, much like one I recently had from Aya’s Pastry (that I got mainly for my wife, who found it too sweet, but I loved it). More vanilla is preseent than Breakfast did despite not being conditioned with it!
Cinnamon Coconut is immediately thick in the mouthfeel than Breakfast, with a smoothness like a Boyz II Men song. There’s cinnamon, chocolate, vanilla, and coconut all in balance. It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure: Flavor Memory – you can go with almond joy bar, samoa cookie, or a Comiskey Park (yes, it’s still Comiskey) standard, the churro. The amazing thing here is that there’s no bourbon burn whatsoever. It adds some flavor, sweetness and rounds out the beer, but I really didn’t know I was drinking a 14% stout until I looked at the label. That thicker mouthfeel leads to a finish that lingers longer and is much more satisfying.
Cinnamon Coconut is, like Breakfast, balanced. It’s sweet, but not overly so, and the smooth mouthfeel leads to a seriously enjoyable drinking session. 16 ounces might be a little too much, but it’s definitely worth the imminent drunkenness and nap afterwards.
Cartoon Pairing: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Long running and enjoyable. Technodrome!
Maplewood has released some quality beers for their first barrel aged can release. Cinnamon Coconut stands out as the clear favorite in my eyes. Let’s hope Maplewood has more of these barrel aged releases in the pipeline. Here’s to another quality barrel program in Chicago!
Maplewood will release both the Barrel Aged Cuppa Breakfast and Barrel Aged Cuppa Cinnamon Coconut (along with Cuppa Brulee) on Saturday, November 9 at 11 A.M. at their Maplewood Lounge, located at 2717 N Maplewood Ave. in Chicago.
Breakfast is $20.99 per 2-pack with a limit of 1 2-pack per person.
Cinnamon Coconut is $22.99 per 2-pack with a limit of 1 2-pack per person.
Cuppa Brulee is $16.99 per 2-pack with no limit.