I make 3-4 trips to Maine a year to visit friends and family, and I usually try to incorporate a few brewery visits as part of each trip. The logistics of this can be difficult with the young kids, they are good travelers overall but their naps and feeding schedules tend to dictate stops and our travel plan always prioritizes the minimum amount of time spent in the car/stuck in traffic as we make the trek from Metro West Massachusetts to and from mid-coast Maine. This results in a number of breweries that have been on my “I need to get there soon” list for way too long. One was Barreled Souls in Saco, but I finally made the stop on my way back to Massachusetts after Thanksgiving. I had heard extensive praise of Barreled Souls beers over the last couple years, but hadn’t been able to work a stop in, we usually travel on weekdays to miss traffic and their taproom has limited hours during the week. Fortunately the trip home from Thanksgiving was on a Saturday, and I was able to swing in and grab a selection of bottles and cans to go after lunch. The timing is perfect too, with the arrival of winter I am craving some big and malty stouts, porters, barleywines and similar styles, and this is Barreled Souls wheelhouse. One of the beers I grabbed was a version of their imperial stout Deep Space that had been aged in Hillrock bourbon barrels. All of Barreled Souls barrel-aged beers are available on a rotating basis on draft and in 500 mL bottles.
Barreled Souls Hillrock Bourbon Barrel Aged Deep Space pours pitch black with a mild dark brown head. The aroma is led by a big whiff of bourbon followed by some roasty malt. The malts lead the flavor, notes of dark chocolate, raisin, tobacco and toffee. This is complemented by the flavors imparted by the barrel aging, sweet and boozy bourbon along with some vanilla. There is minimal hop character, just enough to balance out some of the malt. Hillrock Bourbon Barrel Aged Deep Space is a full bodied and viscous sipper, and it packs some serious punch at 15% ABV. The finish is a mixture of rich dark malt and warming booze. This is an impressive imperial stout, big and bold but everything works together. I’m glad I finally made the trip to Barreled Souls and bought their big beers instead of some more hyped barrel-aged beers that also release right after Thanksgiving! Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.