There are times when you encounter people, places, and things, that truly shock you. They shock you in such a way that, after that encounter, your fundamental understanding of the world, and how you relate to it, has changed for the better. They enrich your life, give meaning where there once was none, and become an inspiration for greatness. Not to wax philosophical, but for this author, my encounter with this beer was just that.
A Good Friend
My good friend John is a beer geek as much as I am, and he loves to arrange for group tastings held at his home about every six months or so. This meeting held quite a bit of high profile beers brought from all over by the various attendees (Heady Topper by The Alchemist, the newest Dark Lord by 3 Floyds, a vintage Tokio by Brewdog, Nemesis by Founders, and so forth. It was a great night, let me tell you.), but the one beer that really stood out above and beyond all else was this bottle pictured above.
Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout is brewed by Cigar City Brewing, and it is aged on Peruvian cacao nibs, Ancho and Pasilla chilis, Madagascar vanilla beans, and cinnamon. Cigar City is based out of Tampa in Florida, and is the easily the best brewery to be found in Florida. There is a reason for this brewery’s bottles being constantly sought for trades.
We were about half way through the large amount of tastings, when one blessed soul proudly placed this bottle upon the table in front of all present. He explained that he had been holding on to this bottle for a few years now, and felt that tonight was a great night to finally open it and share with his friends and fellow beer connoisseurs. I truly appreciate this man’s patience and generosity in bringing this beer to the event. We then opened the bottle, and poured out our samples.
And then, I raised my glass…
What reached my nose first was some combination of banana chocolate cinnamon all morphing in and out of one another, melding gloriously and taking turns at standing in the spotlight. This aroma was simply whelming, make no mistakes about that. Hints of cacao begin to nip through this voluptuous aroma and intermingle with a growing scent of light chocolate mousse drizzled with vanilla. There are wisps of smoke that float around as well. The aroma is huge and ever present, bringing forth ideas of a thick, delicious chocolate cake.
The taste is life changing. Well, at least to a beer nerd. I will endeavor to relate this as best as I possibly can.
Liquid velvet flowed throughout my mouth with the first sip. It was a velvet made of deep, resounding tones of mellow cinnamon and dark frothed chocolate. Dry and lively flavors of the cacao interlace with the cinnamon and chocolate, as they began to meld into a delightful syrup-like sweetness. Tobacco notes began to appear, but are very faint, although deeply satisfying and provide a complexity for the beer. The chilies, unnoticed for a short time, picked up and created an undercurrent of dry, smoky, and mildly spicy flavor, that complimented perfectly the syrup sweetness of the chocolate and spices. The beer coated my mouth like a pâtisserie chef coating a masterpiece black chocolate chili forest cake with hand-made frosting. The flavors linger like the soft caress of an enamored lover; I wished it would never stop. After the swallow, there appeared a smooth as freshly spun silk, resinous flavor of milk chocolate that faded ever so slowly, and prolonged the joy this beer brings.
The beer’s flavors and aromas all come together in perfect harmony. It is an example of either supreme craftsmanship, or deity-inspired serendipity. While most of the flavors and aromas seem fairly straight-forward, they are nuanced and fit together in such a way that elevates the sum total to a new and wonderful experience. This is a WORLD CLASS BEER. As a brewer, this beer was inspiration, spurring me forward to attempt to meet and exceed the quality of this beer. Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout is a 5 out of 5 and can be considered a quest worthy beer. Hunahpu is 11% abv and 80 IBUs (though I did not find any bitterness).
PS – Here are some pictures of what we drank that night…
It was a really, really good night.
Jared Lewinski is obsessed with beer. As such, he has uprooted his life in New Jersey to attend the Brewmastery and Brewery Operations Management program at Niagara College, a program that has, for the past three years, been producing top-tier brewers for Canada and beyond. As a child of the American Craft Movement, Jared has big opinions and a love for big beers. His hope is to bring an outsider’s perspective to a fascinating and tumultuous time for Canadian and Ontario made craft beer, and the culture that it represents…and has aspirations to make a beer of this caliber in the future.