This week we review the BOMB! Prairie Artisan Ales’ BOMB! (ALC 13%, IBU 65) is an imperial stout aged on Nordaggios Coffee espresso beans, chocolate, vanilla beans and ancho chili peppers. After making a trip to my local bottle shop, I was approached by a man that highly recommended BOMB! and urged me to get it now before it was gone. Though I was a little apprehensive because of the cost–about $11 for a 12oz bottle–I said “What the hell” and decided to go for it. I am always willing to throw a few extra bucks on something that sounds so promising.
A black molasses pour and a quick fizzle of carbonation and the BOMB! settles in the snifter headless. Appears a little syrupy but far from being a heavy bodied beer. Looks flat. No lacing.
It’s as if I have stuck my head into a bag of dark chocolate espresso beans. Subtle vanilla and chilies. It smells delicious. Some alcohol on the nose, but at 13% seems pretty tame. Booziness increases as it warms.
My tongue is wrapped in a beautiful silky smoothness. Lighter than I would have expected but cloying at the same time. Much like a cold black coffee, it’s almost refreshing at first but leaves a pleasant slickness to the tongue. Finishes warm and dry.
Upfront it is all bitter chocolate and espresso. Secondary flavors include sweet vanilla, roasted malts, nougat and bitter coffee. Chilies finish out the parade of flavors holding hands with a subtle boozy warmth. As it sits and has time to show more characteristics, I find not new flavors but the same ones have intensified. The espresso is richer, the chocolate darker, chilies more apparent and the alcohol (although still tame) comes out of the rabbit hole a little more.
I have to admit, on pour I was a little disappointed. I expected a heavier body, a richer and longer-lasting head–more wow factor. But my disappointment did not last long. As soon as the smell hit me, I knew I was in for a treat. As a beer reviewer, I love nothing more than to try and dissect a beer and identify every flavor I can find. With a BOMB! you get exactly what the bottle says, only better. There was no need to search for things that are not there. Just for curiosity’s sake, I would like to see BOMB! with perhaps a little stronger chili profile, but that’s all. There is really nothing more I could want or ask for from Prairie’s amazing imperial. The flavors all meld together in perfect harmony and create something undoubtedly world class.
If you catch Prairie Artisan Ales’ BOMB! on the shelf, grab one while you can.