Imperial Porters are not a style you see a lot of, unlike Imperial Stouts. But Crux Fermentation Project’s brewer Matt Henneous is a big fan of them, so when he got a chance to brew one, he made a barrel-aged version called ‘Ribbon of Darkness.’ This extremely limited release is available now in 500ml bottles in the usually taproom exclusive [BANISHED] series, but is now available for mail order as well.
Crux Ribbon of Darkness is part of our daily barrel-aged beer advent calendar that highlights a different beer each day leading up to Christmas, view the rest here.
“In my opinion, there’s not a better style to complete a day of playing in the snow,” says Henneous about his beloved Imperial Porter. “I feel that they’re a little more approachable than an imperial Stout, smooth and somewhat sweet.”
To Henneous, an exemplary Imperial Porter is dominated by chocolate and vanilla notes and the bourbon barrel-aging on Ribbon of Darkness compliments those flavors. A standard barometer for spirit barrel-aging of beer is around 12 months, a target that was planned for with RoD. As the brewers tasted the beer through the aging time on oak, it became apparent that this ones time was 9 months.
“I’ve learned that the beer lets you know when it’s ready for our customers,” says Henneous, who says he never dumps any remaining liquor that pools at the bottom of the barrels before filling with beer. Often the spirit character comes through quickly in these types of beers with the oak and potential light oxidation coming with time as well as a melding of flavors.
Henneous crafted RoD with Chocolate malt, a touch of Midnight Wheat and Pale and Munich malts for a robust and luxurious malt profile. But this begs the question, what is the difference between a 10.3% ABV and 70 IBU Imperial Porter like RoD and a Russian Imperial Stout?
“An imperial porter has far more chocolate influence and far less coffee influence,” says Henneous. “Both drink heavier and have much more body than traditional porters and stouts. There’s a large ABV and IBU spectrum in both but generally, a porter will be a lower percentage in both. That said, there are many who consider them the same beer. Much of the differentiation depends on whom you’re talking to.”
Ribbon of Darkness is part of Crux’s [BANISHED] series of beers that are hard to find outside of the tasting room in Bend. But Crux is excited to announce that they are now shipping and selling beers direct in Oregon and that includes Ribbon of Darkness. To keep shipping reasonable they are selling barrel-aged beers in multiples of three with a flat shipping rate of $10 – but if you spend $75 or more than it’s free.
Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding.