I take my stab at reviewing one of the Barrel Reserve Night selections from Foolproof Brewing Company in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
I am BACK on my grind, reviewing beers from near and far in hopes that I'll find a gem!
As the dark winter approaches, the dark beer should be populating more in your fridge. That, of course, will mean the 2020 reprise of #StoutSZN, brown ales, and porters. While it's still not cold enough here in Rhode Island to do a deep-dive on thick-as-oil, jet black chocolate stouts, we can at least get our feet wet with a special edition craft selection from a local brewing company.
Behold: Irish Rain by Foolproof Brewing Company, a "Barrel Reserve Night" selection.
Pic courtesy of my buddy Will Tondo, you guys may or may not have heard of him ;)
Brewer: Foolproof (Pawtucket, RI)
Special Ingredients: Aged in Jameson Irish Whiskey barrel
If you are a Rhode Island beer drinker - and more specifically, if you've had anything from Foolproof - you've more than likely had "Raincloud," one of the more popular dark beers available in New England package stores. Raincloud, which was scored an 86 by Beer Advocate, is one of the first beers that Foolproof went to market with when they established roots in Rhode Island not long ago. Although one of the lighter porters in the market, Raincloud is categorized as a "Robust" porter for its flavorful body and thickness.
But what if we told you there was more? How about adding...whiskey?!?!
Kudos to Nick Garrison and the rest of the folks at Foolproof Brewing Company, who embarked on a specialty beer series they've dubbed "Barrel Reserve Night." This is Foolproof's attempt to be The Ocean State's leader in specialty beers; although the specialty market (otherwise known as "experimental" depending on the state) has been adopted readily among most New England states, Rhode Island - in large part - has been the laggard in venturing away from the traditional ale, lager, and stout arena. The Barrel Reserve Night series shows promise in becoming one of the more popular experimental series throughout Lil' Rhody; and Foolproof kicked off the series with a bang.
Style & Brewing Process: A+
In the winter, there is nothing I love more than a thick, jet-black dark beer. But when you age a porter in a whiskey barrel, you may just have my heart.
Over the past few years, it's been growing commonplace to age beers in barrels for enhanced flavor, higher alcohol content, and for greater appeal to new craft beer drinkers. If you seek a proof-of-concept, look no further than Irish Rain; the folks at Foolproof seem to have brewed their Raincloud recipe in a traditional fashion, fermented it appropriately, and aged it in Jameson whiskey barrels. A clash between new-American brewing and traditional Irish whiskey, it's clear that Foolproof executed their plan close to flawlessly. Hats off!
Although it pours nearly jet-black out of the bottle, Irish Rain presents with a light head/foam that I had not expected. The Jameson is shining through immediately in the smell, as I can definitely tell we'll be getting some kind of post-fermentation flavor. I smell either molasses or maple syrup - can't really tell which it is.
Immediate notes of brown sugar, oatmeal raisin, and just a slight hint of smoke. It's almost "roasty" as it's going down the gullet, which I can get behind on a cold winter's day. It's not overwhelmingly hoppy (as we would expect in a specialty porter beer), but I taste remnants of European-style hops. I'm certainly tasting the Jameson heavily after just a few sips, as its prominence in the oak barrel is undoubtedly the star of the show.
Can Art: B
I love everything about the silver bottle - it almost functions as more of a "chrome" than the typical bottling scheme that most breweries opt for, especially with experimental beers. But what brings this grade down is the label itself; while I do like the lavender lettering, I think Foolproof had the potential to go a little bit deeper into the art here. How did the story come to be? While we can probably take a stab at the name "Irish Rain" (Irish whiskey + Raincloud beer), what else went into the process? Who influenced its creation? While by no means am I knocking the label, I would've liked to learn more about its significance to the Rhode Island beer community.
Overall Ranking: 3.75 (out of 5 on the UnTappd scale - follow us below!)
All things considered, I thoroughly enjoyed this beer. Many would consider the combination of whiskey and porter to be a bit suspect, but Foolproof won with one of their most popular Barrel Reserve Night selections. Great as a nightcap with a chocolate cake or cookie dough ice cream, yet can function a mid-afternoon libation in these dark winter months that we will most assuredly see in 2021. If you - like me - are a craft beer lover with a vice for whiskey, this selection is for you!
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