A while back my girlfriend Hannah came down to Melbourne for a tap dancing festival, and asked me if I would be interested in trying out a first time tappers class that was free to anyone that wanted to give it a go. Being the open minded kind of guy who does not mind embarrassing himself in such ways I said 'yes'.
Seeing the festival was happening somewhat near the Local Taphouse in St Kilda, I took the opportunity after dropping Hannah to her first class, to wander down for a parma and flight of beers to limber me up for a dance and help me come to terms with what I was about to do. This was helped by seeing quite a number of imperial stouts on tap (who doesn't like a bit of extra alcohol in their beer at such times?!).
Thinking starting straight on an imperial stout might be a bit much for noon, decided to get things rolling with the latest version of the Bridge Road Brewery B2 Bomber...at a lowly 8.2%. I think the malt character has come up a bit from previous years, and the funky yeast back has come down a little. For a beer that has so much going on it is still quite well balanced. Looking forward to trying out the bottle version in comparison with other vintages I have.
The imperial stouts available were the classic aussie Moo Brew, which actually came off quite subtle in comparison at 7.9% and with some time in the keg seeing it was last years batch. Still, time has given it a great smoothness, unfortunately something some of the others imperial stouts also had. It might have been the journey from the US and UK, but the Mission Brewery Dark Seas and Magic Rock Bearded Lady also had great texture to them, and was quite amaze to see a 10.5% stout come from the UK (well, apart from Brew Dog). Still, the one that blew me away was the local Victorian brewed Stubborn Russian from Bright Brewery, which has been barrel aged in whiskey barrels. However, I think the barrels may well have still been half full with whiskey still when they put the beer in their. The heat on the nose and palate was quite strong with the whiskey aspects, and unfortunately the beer was a little bit lost behind it.
The other surprising aspect of the beer journey was the parma I had with it. They have definitely stepped up from previous ones I have had there before. Speaking to one of the owners who was also having lunch at the time, I asked him if they had changed it as it tasted more like bacon than ham with a thickness and salty character to it, but he said they have started used a cured ham. Whatever it was it tasted great.