1/29/22: MadTree Brewing Company's Coffee & Vanilla Bourbon Barrel Aged Axis Mundi (Unknown Vintage)

2:32 PM

Two things: 1) You really didn't think I'd let the entire month of January slip away without providing a proper post, did you? 2) Did I really go through all of 2022 without discussing a single MadTree beer on the blog?

MadTree Coffee & Vanilla Bourbon Barrel Aged Axis Mundi bottle sitting before a window and beside a fake plant.

Good for all of us, then, that I have a remedy for both those things. Here in the bleak, chilly late days of January, I'm turning to a MadTree classic to officially ring in 2023 for John Likes Beer. That's right, I'm drinking an aged bottle of Coffee & Vanilla Bourbon Barrel Aged Axis Mundi (Axis Mundi henceforth).

Since it's been quite some time since a MadTree offering last graced these parts, let me direct you to their "About" page. The Cincinnati brewery (located in the city's Oakley neighborhood) is run by conservation-minded people, who believe in giving back to the environment and their community. They also believe in making damn fine beer.

Axis Mundi is a great example of one of those damn fine beers. I've had the base beer on tap more than a few times in Oakley. This variant, however, is new to me. Since it no longer has a place on MadTree's website (I'm sure it did at one point), let's get our info on it from BeerAdvocate. This page lists the beer as a 10.5% ABV Russian Imperial Stout (my bottle calls it an American Super Stout) aged in reclaimed oak whiskey barrels. The label on my bottle goes on to say that it also saw the addition of coffee and vanilla beans. 

MadTree Coffee & Vanilla Bourbon Barrel Aged Axis Mundi label viewed from the front.

MadTree Coffee & Vanilla Bourbon Barrel Aged Axis Mundi viewed from the side, with full description of beer.

The BeerAdvocate page says this variant of the beer first came about in 2015. Below you'll see an image of the bottling date listed on my bottle's label. The best I can make out is "? 17 18". The first number could be a 3, a 5, or a 6. Regardless, I think this bottle's from 2018, although I can't be absolutely certain (which is why this post's title states it's of "Unknown Vintage").

MadTree Coffee & Vanilla Bourbon Barrel Aged Axis Mundi label with bottled on date.

The nose on this thing is something else. Coffee, oak, vanilla, dark fruit, baker's chocolate, a touch of black pepper, a hint of molasses, some pipe tobacco, and a small amount of funk/dankness from the hops (the driving idea here is a Russian Imperial Stout, after all. There're bound to be plenty of hops). Unfortunately, Purrl can't quite appreciate what this bouquet's doing, seeing how she only gave my bottle two short whiffs.

Purrl sniffing a bottle of MadTree Coffee & Vanilla Bourbon Barrel Aged Axis Mundi.

I'm picking up on big, dank hops from the stout's flavor profile. They're the first things to hit and the last things to leave. There's plenty of coffee, bourbon barrel (vanilla [also attributable here to the actual vanilla bean adjunct], oak, and a ton of booze), chocolate-covered espresso beans, and plum (including its slightly sour flesh). There's a boozy warmth that lingers well into the finish, lasting longer than the coffee but not as long as the hops.

For a stout (an American Super Stout, no less), I expected Axis Mundi to be chewy (I honestly can't recall the mouthfeel of the drafts I've had). I'm surprised at the low viscosity of the beer in my bottle. It's a tad bitey on my tongue, but it's easy to swig and body-warming. This is a great mid-winter stout.

Have you ever hiked through the woods in the winter? It's one of my favorite things to do. I love the way the snow swallows the tracks my boots leave, as well as all sound. I love the way the dark brown of the wet tree bark is highlighted against the swirling gray and white of the day. I love the of chill, keeping me cool as I struggle through the rapid accumulation. 

Snowy woods in the snow during a hike.

More snowy woods from a hike.

I also love having a beer when I get back from my journey. I crack open a can or bottle, sit on the couch, and watch the flakes tumble to the ground outside through my window. Axis Mundi would be a killer beer for such an occasion.

MadTree's my favorite Cincinnati brewery (I'm airing my bias here)--they always make good product. Coffee & Vanilla Bourbon Barrel Aged Axis Mundi's no exception. It's aged beautifully. I'm giving my (assumed) nearly-five year old bottle a 9.0/10. If MadTree has more of the squirreled away, jump at the chance to get some if they ever re-release it.

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