11/13/20: Hubbard's Cave's Maple Imperial Stout

2:51 PM

The subject of this evening's review is a stout I've been looking forward to for quite some time. Earlier this year (I want to say somewhere between April and June) I happened across a few cans of this at a local bottleshop (any beer with "Maple" in the name immediately catches my eye). 

I was interested, but balked a bit at the price on the can (each one was $11). However, the label art of cars in a tunnel and ABV convinced me. I grabbed two bottles from the shelf, figuring I'd drink one this November (a.k.a. now) and one sometime later on. The store was sold out of the beer entirely when I returned two days later.

I did no research on the stout first before making my purchase. I've done no research on it since. I have no idea if it'll be any good, if it's something people enjoy. All I know is that I'm excited to drink my pint of it. Here we go: Maple Imperial Stout from Hubbard's Cave.

Hubbard's Cave is an offshoot of Une Anée, a Chicago, IL-based brewery. Une Anée, which was founded in 2013, began as a brewery that offered a seasonal rotation of Belgian-inspired beers. Eventually, that seasonal rotation became a bi-weekly rotation. Eventually still, the brewery grew so popular that they wanted to try their hand at American beers without compromising the brand they'd created. Thus, Hubbard's Cave was born in 2015. The full story is over on Une Anée's "About Us" page, so I'd recommend you check it out if you're interested in learning more.

Since Maple Imperial Stout, unfortunately, doesn't have a presence on Une Anée's website, we'll turn to Untappd to find out more about it. It's billed here as a 12% ABV "Imperial Stout with Maple." It's holding steady with just over four out of five bottle caps, and a quick read-through of the reviews leads me to one that's simply: "Holy shit!" 

One waft of the stout's bouquet and holy shit, indeed. This is all coffee and maple syrup. It smells like an early morning diner, where you take your coffee black and your pancakes with chocolate chips. See, I add the chocolate chips part because there're big chocolate notes on my return waft, something akin to if you poured and Irish cream into a mug of dark hot chocolate. This is a simple, powerful nose. Purrl gave my can twelve whiffs, so it seems she's inclined to agree.

Since I've just about used up my quota of expletives here (although that first one was a quote, so should I really count it?), I'll just say I'm floored by how good this stout tastes. It's coffee on the fore (note that, to my knowledge, coffee wasn't employed in the brewing process--this is all from the roasted dark malt), with a smooth sweetness of chocolate (again, from the malt), maple, and a hint of vanilla (I'm willing to bet they used lactose in the brew). This is all followed with a finish of black coffee made just slightly more bitter by the stout's sparse hops. Note that there's absolutely no hint of that ABV in the flavor profile. Be careful with this one.

The only fault I can find with the beer, and it's an incredibly minor one, is the mouthfeel: It's a tad thin. I want my maple beers to be syrupy. I want my imperial stouts to have an incredibly full body. This drinks more like an ale, falling just short of both marks. Again: Be careful with it.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think I've ever mentioned Athens, OH's Union Street Diner on the blog. This was my favorite restaurant in town. I'd regularly get either blueberry french toast or biscuits and gravy, always with coffee to drink.

One time, the morning of my comprehensive examinations for my master's degree, Michelle and I went there at five in the morning for a last minute cram session. I got my blueberry french toast and smothered it with maple syrup. I poured a shot of cream in my coffee because there was no way I was about to drink it black before heading to six hours worth of tests.

Michelle quizzed me as we ate. See, the great thing about comps is that, if you know the professors who are testing you well enough, they can clue you in on what they might ask you ahead of time. All three of my professors gave me a heads up, and I had a notebook full of data from which I needed to pull my answers. 

That morning, Michelle asked me questions about what was in that notebook while I ate my syrupy meal and drank my coffee. All the while, the early risers of Athens ate their breakfasts around us. The diner had a distinct aroma of maple syrup and black coffee that morning, which is why Maple Imperial Stout's bringing it to mind.

Hubbard's Cave's Maple Imperial Stout changes the maple beer game entirely. The maple is here in droves but, instead of overpowering the beer, it accents its imperial stout base. I cannot believe how aromatic and tasty my can of the stuff is. While I do wish that the mouthfeel had a little more oomph, I'm willing to overlook that because this beer is just that damn good. It is, without the shadow of a doubt, the easiest 10/10 I've ever given. From the nose alone, I knew it'd have that rating and the stout  carried that high the whole time I was writing this post. Holy shit (there, now I'm at my quota), this is a beer you absolutely need to seek out for yourself.

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