I was down the shore working while Benita and The Urchins were off to the waterpark. As a reward for my endeavors, I popped open a bomber of Victory’s Java Cask, a Coffee Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels. I acquired this bottle in a white elephant swap at work and stored it away hoping that I’d get to it over the winter. Naturally, one thing leads to another, the bottle gets pushed to the back of the beer cabinet, and “Poof!”, out of sight, out of mind. I re-stumbled upon the bottle while packing for the shore and looking for a beer to supplement the generous “Maine Brewers To-Go Bag” (again, not a thing, but it really should be!) from G-LO. Remembering that I had some potentially tasty stuff buried deep in the beer cabinet, I reached in and fumbled around till I found what I was looking for.

Victory Brewing Company is a favorite of the site and we’ve worked our way through most of the lineup. While their Prima Pils, Hop Devil IPA and Summer Love are obvious choices, I’m a big fan of Dirt Wolf Double IPA and Storm King Imperial Stout. Not knowing much about the Java Cask, other than the fact that I’d stolen it from another co-worker, and as it was the third steal, it could not be stolen again, I was intrigued to give it a try. Regrettably, I popped this open without my cheaters so I didn’t notice the 14.3% ABV until the bottle was already open. Oh well, what was I to do? Drink it! That’s what.

Before we get to my review, here’s what Victory has to say about their Java Cask

The One Village Smart Roast coffee contains notes of smoke and burnt bread. Warming bourbon character interacts with the coffee. Flavor starts as a fresh cup of joe, but quickly morphs into sweet and roasty blend from the base beer and bourbon interacting. Sweet and savory. Alcohol heat is present, but tame considering the labeled value.

And here are my impressions…

  • ABV: 14.3%
  • Appearance: Deep black color (very much like midnight) and very opaque with a small band of quickly dissipating tan foam.
  • Aroma: Cocoa nibs, coffee grounds and wet cardboard. With hints of vanilla and dried fruits (figs, raisin, cherries).
  • Taste: Minimal fizz with a bit of sweetness followed by the acrid coffee bitterness and then a boozy note (My Better Half said the aftertaste was a lot like the juice left in a container of really good black olives. I’m not sure what that means.) As it warmed, more of the coffee bite and the booziness kicked in (more oak & vanilla; more of the Bourbon notes).

The Verdict

I was expecting a well-crafted coffee stout. What I got was a decidedly different and almost too powerful flavor explosion. I came away with the following thoughts:

  • I should not have attempted this bomber by myself as it was like sitting down and trying to drink a bottle of wine.
  • 14.3% ABV is probably too high for beer.
  • Victory really knows how to make a quality beer.
  • This white elephant grab may have won the office event.
  • Someone in work really knows how to pick craft beer.