When you think of Atlanta, certain things come to mind: peaches, CNN, OutKast. Most likely, beer is low on the list. But like much of America, Atlanta has experienced a craft brewing boom over the last ten years. And though it’s still establishing itself as a destination for beer lovers, to paraphrase Andre 3000, “The South got something to say.” And Variant Brewing Company—located in nearby Roswell, Georgia—makes a statement with its Whiskey Barrel Aged PRC imperial stout.
The original PRC is made with chocolate, habanero peppers, cinnamon, and vanilla. However, this version also spent six months in a whiskey barrel. Its color is pitch black with a khaki-colored foam, while its smell is a delightful cloud of freshly baked cinnamon rolls, with a fog vanilla to sweeten the aroma.
The first sip reveals the beer’s silky mouthfeel. And since the chocolate is quite pronounced, the booziness of the whiskey is subdued by the other flavors. The most curious trait of this curious beer is how the barrel notes and chocolate work together to create a maple sensation. So when you add in the cinnamon, you get something akin to loaded pancakes. But don’t forget about the habaneros. They provide a brief but spicy kick in the aftertaste. Not enough to make you sweat, but enough to know it’s there.
Overall, this is an excellent beer with a ton of character. The hefty 11.5% ABV makes this a slow sipper, which helps you enjoy every drop. If this is what the South has to say about beer, I look forward to hearing more.