Free Will Brewing Company Decadent Chocolate Ralphius
What the brewers say
In collaboration with Pierre’s Chocolates (New Hope, Pennsylvania), we carefully selected a blend of responsibly sourced Central and South American cacao nibs and chocolate to age with this particular variant of our bourbon barrel–aged imperial stout, Ralphius.
What our panel thought
Chocolate, roasted malt, dark fig, cherry, light vanilla, coconut, and hints of caramel and hot cocoa in the aroma along with a distinct boozy note give the perception of some heft to follow. The aroma doesn’t lie as the alcoholic heat hits quickly and lingers long. Within that boozy warmth is a focus on the breadth and depth of all things chocolate as well as some oak-derived leather and vanilla. A deep warming character starts on the lips and reaches into the soul (or stomach, we are not theologians or doctors). The chocolate notes are pleasant, but the boozy heat detracts some from their decadence. Mouthfeel is a bit on the thin side, given the current trend of thick, luscious examples in this style, which may further accentuate the perception of alcoholic heat.
What our editors thought
Crisp but slightly fruity cacao note on the nose, with a touch of caramel and dark berry. On the sip, those dark berry notes push forward—blueberry, blackberry—with alternate hits of bitter and sweet chocolate. On subsequent sips, the sweetness and ethanol with the fruit notes bends a bit medicinal, but it thankfully adheres to its dark malt structure with a lingering dark-chocolate bitterness.