Beers in Review: Notables from River Rat's 3rd Birthday

A couple of weeks ago, I covered the 3rd Birthday Party for River Rat Brewery here in Columbia. If you missed it, you can find that video about the entire event here.  I have a whole lot of beers from that event to review, so you will be seeing them over a couple of BiR entries this week. For a few reasons (all same brewery, 5 beers per review instead of 2-3, etc.), the individual beer reviews will be slightly shorter than normal.  But River Rat had a number of special and rare beers to go with their excellent core line-up, so let's check them out!

I started off with the Sour Cherry Sucker Punch, and I told the full story of why in the video, but basically, don't let the word "Sour" fool you. This is a massive beer! It brings every bit of 12% ABV to the party, along with subtle cherry notes and a very mild sourness. Pouring a pretty reddish-copper color, Sucker Punch carries both a fruity sweetness as well as the expected boozy sweetness. If you can handle the alcohol it brings to the table, Sucker Punch can be highly enjoyable.

Next up was the 2016 edition of their Winter Warmer, which wasn't awful, but was easily my least favorite beer for the whole day. I think a fair amount of that can be owed to my mild aversion to the spicy seasonal beers that dominate the fall and winter months. Pouring a deep-brown ruby color, and clocking in at just 6% ABV, Winter Warmer brings cinnamon and a few other spices of the season, with the overall taste reminding me of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal (which is funny, since I believe they also have a beer that mirrors that cereal). It's mildly sweet, and really was fairly mild overall. I think a bit of a bolder beer could have been in order. Especially something intended for colder winter months.

Last year, River Rat collaborated with Tampa, Florida's Cigar City Brewing for an Imperial Stout (what I've now discovered they're calling a "Sweet Potato Pie Imperial Stout) called And I Shut My Mouth. A boozy sweetness dominates the flavor profile, which is not too surprising, given the reported 9.6% ABV (courtesy Beer Advocate) and the relatively mild-in-flavor nature of the supposed feature ingredient. While I wasn't looking for it at the time, I can't recall finding much of a sweet potato note in the beer. It did have some cocoa notes, along with maybe a bit of cola. Overall, I found it to be a tasty beer.

My last full entry for this review is the Barrel-Aged Imperial Milk Stout. This Milk Stout was aged in bourbon barrels for six months before release earlier this year. Also sporting a massive 12% ABV, this stout pours a very dark cola color--it was very nearly see-through, but just too dark to get there. Between the barrel treatment and the style, this had a terrific mouthfeel, just absolutely smooth. It featured chocolate and overall sweet notes, along with a surprisingly low boozy feeling, considering the ABV. Another really nice offering. I do feel I should note that subsequently had their core stout, called My Morning Stout, but only got a few minor notes--cola, smokiness--likely due to the beer that had proceeded it. This was an error on my part.

After pushing through a fairly powerful line-up of beers, I took a bit of a palate break before moving more towards River Rat's core beers and lighter beers. You can read all about them this weekend. See you then!