The cat poo is coming. Brace yourselves.
Nikolai Vorlauf is a particularly strong, brutal Russian Imperial Stout made by Oakland Park’s Funky Buddha Brewery. I can’t totally handle Russian Imperials, good though many of them are. They tend to be just a bit too strong for me.
Funky Buddha, however, likes to play with theirs quite a bit. Some time ago, I had the chance to sample a variant that has been aged in Cabernet barrels to great effect. And, at their recent Two Year Anniversary event, I got to taste three more variants:
Bourbon Barrel Aged Nikolai Vorlauf (Russian Imperial Stout, 11% ABV) is just as big and angry as a beer named after a hairy Russian wrestler should be. It’s very heavy, with a giant knockdown punch of dark malt flavors that only grows with the aging in bourbon barrels. Based on the beers they had at the event, I can only assume the barrels came from Kentucky’s Heaven Hill distillery. This is not a beer for lightweights. Instant buzz is practically guaranteed.
The Love Below (Russian Imperial Stout, 12% ABV), while having a slightly higher alcohol content, is a surprisingly smoother, more flavorful, and easier drinking variant of Mr. Vorlauf. Basically, it starts off as a blend of the Vorlauf aged in Bourbon barrels that I tried earlier in the day and the Vorlauf aged in Cabernet barrels I wrote about late last year. From there, cocoa nibs and cherries are added, giving the beer a sensual, silky sweetness. It’s remarkably softer and more accessible than almost any other Russian Imperial Stout I’ve ever tried. The cherries only slightly sweeten the beer, and it never gets syrupy. Plus, most of the chewiness of the beer comes from the heavy malt and maybe some of the bourbon aging, not so much the cherries or cocoa. It’s an excellent brew.
The fact that I took a picture of EntitALEd (Russian Imperial Stout, 11% ABV) on a concrete parking stop is kind of humorous. This was also easily my favorite beer of the event. You just may not want to learn about how it’s made.
EntitALEd starts life once again as the Heaven Hill bourbon barrel aged Nikolai Vorlauf. From there it’s aged with two different types of vanilla and brewed with Kopi Luwak coffee, the most rare and most expensive coffee in the world.
That’s where things get a little icky. You see, Kopi Luwak is the coffee where the coffee berries are eaten by the Asian Palm Civet, a kind of ferret-cat looking thing. The beans are digested, defecated, picked up by Indonesian coffee farmers, then roasted and brewed into what is reputed to be the smoothest, most flavorful, and least bitter coffee in the world. From cat poo.
They’re not lying about the smoothness thing. This beer is velvety smooth, with a wonderfully balanced coffee flavor and a light sweetness from the vanilla beans. The bourbon aging only lends a nice, mellow sweetness, not a giant alcoholic punch. It’s nowhere near as giant and merciless as many of the other varietals of Nikolai.
Knowing their penchant for having fun with Nikolai, I’m excited to see what else Funky Buddha does with this workhorse of a Russian Imperial Stout. I’m interested to know what else is coming to this beer.
P.S. Cat poo.
Drink Florida Craft,