Rough Draughts: Hello, Darkness gets introduced to whiskey barrels

River North's Whiskey Barrel Aged Hello, Darkness Black IPA When thinking of whiskey barrel aged beers, styles such as stouts, barleywines, and perhaps a scotch ale or quad come to mind. But how about a whiskey barrel aged black IPA?

Well don’t ponder that question for long, as that’s exactly what River North just crafted using their popular Hello, Darkness Black IPA. The virgin Hello, Darkness is a tantalizing mixture of hop bitterness with a roasty dry malt profile and an almost smoky-like character from the yeast. After four months of hibernating in whiskey barrels this past winter, the dark beauty emerges with even more complexity and maturity, bringing about mellow whiskey notes on the front end, subdued bitterness in the middle, and that dry roasty malt character on the finish. And while you pause and reflect after indulging in this platter of tastes, you might just get another glimpse of those hops in their younger, wilder days as they leave a slight tingle on your tongue.

Sounds pretty tasty, right? Can’t wait to rush into that first sip? As Lee Corso might say on ESPN’s College Game Day, “Not so fast my friend!” Although no one will forcefully hold you back, consider giving this beer a few minutes to wake form its slumber. As the clock ticks away, you can expect the hops to make an even greater return to your palate, and the whiskey to merge into the dry roasty malt. Heck, leave just a little bit at the bottom of your glass to savor while you go check on your bike or place a to-go order at the restaurant next door – it’s worth it.

The taste may change as the beer warms up, but your level of enjoyment won’t be altered by the warming weather. Even with weighing in at roughly 7% ABV, this beer is lighter in body, making it a great brew to enjoy right now. Better yet, buy two bottles – one to enjoy on your back porch today, and another to see what happens after additional beauty sleep. Will it turn into something like a whiskey barrel aged black ale? There’s only one way to find out.

So when can you make your own introduction to the Whiskey Barrel Aged Hello, Darkness? River North is releasing the dark majestic this Saturday, May 18th at 1pm for $12 per 650mL bottle. But don’t wait until the sun goes down – there are only thirty cases for sale, and they’re available exclusively at the brewery (2401 Blake St #1, Denver, CO 80205). Want to make some small talk with her before taking the plunge? It’ll be on draft too.

About Shea Suski

Transportation planner by trade, craft beer and BBQ enthusiast by life. And scotch. Oh, and live music. Maybe some biking and hiking between beers. He'll beat you at bowling too.