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Beer Review: FiftyFifty Eclipse - Rittenhouse Rye

A rarity worth seeking out
by Mike Lorenz on Feb 27, 2012 in Beer
Beer Review: FiftyFifty Eclipse - Rittenhouse Rye

As the craft beer industry continues to grow, the bar for exclusive, “one-offs” is set continually higher. Rarefied brews are priced to what the market will bear, and with each year garnering more interest, the sky is the limit. One such rare brew is Eclipse, an imperial stout from FiftyFifty Brewing Company in Truckee, CA. Brewed just once a year, aged on a variety of oak bourbon barrels and distributed in small batches of hand numbered 22-oz. bottles, Eclipse is a highly coveted American craft beer, only very recently available east of the Rockies.

Poured from bottle no. 27 into a small snifter glass, Eclipse is everything you would expect from an imperial stout. Dark in color with a thin coffee-toned head, this brew is mysterious and rich upon first glance. Identified by the hunter green wax around the neck of the bottle, this variety of Eclipse was aged on Heaven Hill Rittenhouse Rye barrels. (Other 2011 releases included those aged in barrels used for Elijah Craig 12 year, Four Roses Single, Buffalo Trace and more).

The nose is dominated by scents of whiskey, dark fruits and booze. Despite the strength of whiskey in the aroma, Eclipse is not entirely dominated by its time spent in bourbon barrels. Tastes of sweet vanilla from the oak, boozy notes of bourbon and rye and a slight hop bitterness balance perfectly and are rounded out by an earthy tobacco finish.

With a robust 9.5% ABV, Eclipse, as with almost all imperial stouts, is a snifter-worthy sipper perfect for a dessert course or nightcap. Although a dark, high alcohol brew, Eclipse does not weigh heavily on the palate, instead balancing its heavier side with a pleasant level of carbonation and a slightly tacky but not cloying mouthfeel.

In its inaugural distributing to the East Coast, FiftyFifty Brewing Company has made quite a splash with the heralded Eclipse series. This beer is for fans of imperial stouts and bourbon and will likely not make converts out of the light of heart. If you happened come across a bottle, Eclipse is certainly a complex imperial stout worth sipping and savoring and even sharing with a friend.

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