1305 Hot Spring Way #101, Vista
As temperatures begin their annual, wintry decent — OK, so we’re only talking a few degrees in sunny San Diego, but humor me — thoughts of tropical isles are hardly top of mind. But Vista’s Iron Fist Brewing Company has a specialty libation capable of taking one’s mind from the North Pole to the Caribbean, all while providing a sturdy brew well-suited for colder weather — even those low-seventies cool spells we Southern Californians are forced to endure. What is this mystical beer and how does it accomplish such disparate goals? The what is easy—Iron Fist Dark Days Imperial Stout — but the how…that’ll require some explanation.
Let’s start with the beer. Dark Days is the same recipe as Iron Fist’s popular imperial stout, Velvet Glove, with the exception of the malt bill, which is upped in order to boost the beer’s alcohol-by-volume (ABV) to 11.5%. The increased alcohol makes the beer suitable for aging, helping it stave off potential infection while stored in oak barrels. This brawny brew spent 18 months in rum barrels that, before finding their way to a Caribbean distillery, were used to age Jack Daniels whiskey. Character from both spirits presents itself in the finished beer, which was so boozy it needed to be blended with fresh Dark Days before being bottled (83% barrel-aged and 17% new).
The finished product, which is being both bottle- and keg-conditioned is no slouch from an octane perspective, clocking in at a bruising 14.34% ABV. It will debut in 375-millilitre bottles at an official release part taking place next Saturday, November 1 at Iron Fist’s tasting room (1305 Hot Springs Way, Vista). Drunk fresh, there’s a great deal of bittersweet chocolate appeal accentuated by strong rum character from all that time in the barrel, but this beer should smooth out over time if properly cellared, making it well worth the wait.