If you didn't make it to Waldo last night, you really missed out... As you may have read, Gary from Schlafly brought a keg of the 2009 Imperial Stout to Waldo Pizza along with bottles of the 08, 07 and 06 vintages. All you needed to do to take part in the vertical tasting was order a pint of the 2009 and you got the three tasters for free. The 09 Imperial Stout alone was worth the trip to 75th & Wornall, the other vintages were just icing on the cake. Sweet, chocolatey, caramelly, bourbony icing...
The 09 and 08 Imperial Stouts were quite similar. At 10.5% alcohol the Imperial Stout holds up quite well, the 08 had a little more oaky spice and alcohol flavor but was otherwise nearly identical to the 09. The 07 was the black sheep of this tasting, it's flavor seemed to be in flux between the 08 and 06... and I don't mean that in the best way. The 07 tasted a little too much like cola to make me want to go back for more. The 2006 Imperial Stout was a real surprise after tasting the 07. I was expecting this vintage to be more super sweet and even more like cola than it's younger brother. The 06 actually turned out to be my favorite of the bottles. It was extremely smooth, so much so that I expect an older bottle would have been considerably thinner bodied and less enjoyable. The 06 had loads of caramel flavor and milder bourbon character. The 06 definitely tasted like the elder of the bunch, a beer that you could get away with charging a premium for in some circles.
As much as I liked the sweet and incredibly smooth 2006, the 2009 was my overall favorite. Nothing really compares to fresh beer and the same goes for stouts. Even though this beer is probably six or eight months old by the time it hits the tap, it was noticeably "fresher" than the others. Having a glass from the keg rather than a 750ml bottle certainly helps. I'm looking forward to picking up a bottle of the 09 soon while the 06, 07 and 08 are still fresh on my mind.
Here are a few extra notes I gleaned from Gary the Schlafly guy:
2006 was the first year for the Imperial Stout, so if you can find another tasting like this and you want to say you've had every Imperial Stout Schlafly has ever produced, you'd better act fast.
The 2009 bottles should already be on the shelves in Missouri, but Kansans probably won't see them for a bit (I heard Kansans just don't buy as many big bottles).
Schlafly's collaboration with New Albanian and O'Fallon will be coming to the Flying Saucer next week, but you probably already knew that.
All in all I had a great time at Waldo Pizza. The restaurant was much nicer than I was expecting and the pizza was awesome. The regular beer selection wasn't too bad either. The Imperial Stouts kept me occupied most of the evening but I did see Founder's Breakfast Stout on tap. This is a place I'd go back to again, especially if they do more events like this one.
If I were the kind of guy that gave shout outs this is where I'd mention KC Wort Hog and Jeremy from Boulevard who were both nice enough to take time out of their evening to say hi to me. I hope to once again drink beer in the same room as them in the future.