Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Peruvian Morning

Central Waters Brewing Company
Amherst, WI

Style: Imperial Stout

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (World class.)

Ah, Peru.

Machu Picchu. Llamas. Andes mints. Few countries are more exotic and mysterious than this ancient land of the Incas.

And now, thanks to Wisconsin’s Central Waters Brewing Company, we can drink the same beer the people of Peru drink every morning. Peruvian Morning is the latest Central Waters limited edition release, a lineup that has thus far been nothing short of spectacular. Peruvian Morning is named as such because it’s an imperial stout brewed with coffee, something else that Peru is well known for. Since the drug cartels make the name “Colombian Morning” a bit less sexy than their Peruvian neighbors, the land that Juan Valdez made famous will have to sit on the sidelines for this one. For shame.

I’m extremely excited about this one for a number of reasons. First of all, as I stated, Central Waters has been brilliant with their limited edition releases so far. Bourbon Barrel Barleywine, Bourbon Barrel Stout, and Kosmyk Charlie’s Y2K Catastrophe Ale were all top of the line. On top of that, their Brewhouse Coffee Stout was one of the best coffee-based brews I ever had. Peruvian Morning is another opportunity for them to experiment with coffee, which is fine with Nigel, who loves him some coffee. On top of my excitement for coffee would be my current NEED for coffee. Nigel has had a hectic few weeks at work, as the macaroni noodle trinket biz has picked up in recent weeks, thanks to the rebound in the stock market. We all know the first investment people make when cashing in their dividends is noodle-based trinkets, so I’ve been swamped. A Red Bull earlier, followed by a strong coffee brew should do the trick (yes, there is actually caffeine in coffee stouts, though not as much as you find in straight coffee).

Central Waters refers to Peruvian Morning as their “10th Anniversary Imperial Stout.” Brewed with Peruvian coffee (obviously) and aged in bourbon barrels, this has the makings of something special. One of the things that stood out in Central Waters’ other bourbon barrel releases was that the aging process imparted an incredible amount of flavor in them. Granted, that’s the point; but be it just the barrels they’re using or the system they employ, I dare anyone to find a better line of bourbon barrel-aged brews out there than the ones found in Amherst. I can’t explain it, but they hit Nigel just right. If they repeat that flavor and add a nice, bold coffee to it, then damn … we have a winner.

Damn, indeed. The pop of the bottle cap reveals an odor that is pleasing to those that love java: a smooth, bold, roasted coffee. The smell is both powerful and pleasant, topped off by sugary notes of caramel and molasses, as well as noticeable hints of vanilla. The slightest touch of dark fruit is present as well and as you pour, the smell increases drastically. I don’t need to drink this … I could just smell it all day.

But drink it I will, and I’m giddy as a schoolgirl in anticipation. The pour reveals an ultra murky, nearly black brew that is impenetrable to light. A thick, creamy head of about an inch on the pour slowly evaporates, leaving a noticeable tan lace with some clinging on the sides. High amounts of sedimentation, combined with the color and the aroma, seem to indicate that this is a complex lil’ guy and I’m in for a challenge.

On second thought … this isn’t a challenge. Calculus is a challenge. Winning your NCAA pool after picking Wake Forest to make the Final Four is a challenge. Drinking Peruvian Morning is sheer bliss. Initial flavors are all almost exclusively coffee, with a touch of that wonderful bourbon barrel sweetness Central Waters seems to have perfected. As the session progresses, the coffee begins to step aside in favor of a stronger bourbon/wood flavor, as well as sugary notes of molasses, dark brown sugar, caramel, and toffee. Subtle notes of peat and chocolate come through as well, making it earthy without being grainy, if that makes any sense (this is one of those wonderful, unique flavors that can be tough to describe). A touch of dark fruit is present as well in the form of fig and black cherry, adding to the sweetness provided by the bourbon barrel aging and the dark malt. It’s thick, syrupy, and powerful like most imperial stouts, but not overwhelmingly so. The bourbon barrel-aging process and the coffee work together in perfect synchronization, making this a unique, powerful treat that any coffee or stout lover will surely enjoy. The alcohol is undetectable given the plethora of flavors, and while complex, this isn’t a monster; on the contrary, it’s a great sipping beer that you’ll have a hard time putting down. Medium- to full-bodied and fairly smooth on the palate, Peruvian morning does leave a minor coffee aftertaste, but one that’s far less annoying than stale Starbucks backwash.

Honestly, this beer was phenomenal, and I’m hoping to track down some more before it disappears. I don’t recall having a bourbon barrel-aged coffee stout before, but the sweetness imparted from that process, when mixed with a bold roast, is absolutely incredible. Be sure to pick some Peruvian Morning up should you find it at your local retailer; I found mine in individual 12-ounce bottles retailing for about $4. It’s well worth the expense, and the euphoria will surely make you feel like you’re back home in Peru.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on April 1, 2009.
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