A recent treat from Sheffield's vintage beer cooler was Victory Brewing's Storm King Stout, 2008 release. I'm beginning to think that aging imperial stouts is the way to go, without exception. Just as women improve with age, so do stouts. Imperial stouts often drink too hot with alcohol at their initial release, or are overly-steeped in one of their signature ingredients - hops, coffee, chocolate, rye, whatever. The aging process melds the flavors together into a more seamless concoction, often heightening the drinking experience. I'm still talking stouts here, tactfully. And there's no question that Storm King benefits mightily from cellaring.
I tried my first Storm King of recollection back in 2009 at Paddy Long's after a Bears game. I found it rich and satisfying with dark fruit and chocolate flavor, but overheated with alcohol on the finish. At 9% and without a lot of coffee as a masking agent, it drank rather boozily. Had I kept a bottle from then until today my reaction would strikingly differ. The 2008 from Sheffield's from the other day was radically different than the young Storm King, and revolutionized my opinion of the beer. Lovingly poured into a 10 oz. snifter, the Storm King looked like a pool of black paint and smelled strongly of raisins and blackberry. The carbonation had substantially dissipated; the beer offered very little in the way of a head. But enough carbon bite remained to satisfy the palate, offering balance to the rich mouthfeel. Raisins, bark fruit, semi-sweet chocolate, raspberry, and citrus flavors paved the palate, and were backed by earthy hops, or, at least, what remained of them. The smell and opulent mouthfeel vaguely reminded me of Dark Lord.
I would recommend buying a four pack of this and cellaring it for a few years. It's worth it. Storm King is reasonably priced for an imperial stout but the aged version drinks better than most barrel-aged beers which can be expensive and scarce. Even the barrel-aged version of this beer was disappointing. Drinking a cellared release of this will pay you back far more than your initial spend. Hat tip to Sheffield's for recognizing the value in aging this.
4.7 of 5 stars.