I brewed this a while ago (10/8/12) but I bottled it a few weeks (7/28/13) ago and I tasted it last week(8/22/13). High alcohol beers take a little bit of time to age but when they turn out I find the wait was worth while. I was a bit pessimistic after the failure of my bourbon vanilla oak aged improvised imperial chocolate porter. The favors were okay once I got it carbonated but it wasn't what I wanted.
This beer quietly aged in perpetual darkness from October to July. The dark beer remained steady with no sign of infections or other faults just sitting in a carboy. When I tasted it at bottling time I wasn't super excited but I had been given hope by the carbonated sample of my previous attempt.
Appearance: (A-) Dark black with a brown/tan head about one half of one inch high. Slightly apparent carbonation.
Aroma: (B) a bit muted and underwhelming. Nothing exciting other than vague aromas, roast, chocolate, alcohol. A good palate to stand on but it needed more, or I needed allergy medication.
Flavor: (B+) Good flavor, surprising and subtle. The dangers in this beer are that it's higher in alcohol but is still not too flavor forward. I nice balanced imperial porter with some forward alcohol. I am glad I let this age because I have a feeling that fresh that slight edge of alcohol would have been more like the rock of Gibraltar than a rock in your shoe.
Mouthfeel: (B-) A bit under carbonated. Perhaps it was the head space? Perhaps it was the finishing yeast? Perhaps it was the sugar used to prime the bottles. Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps.
Overall: (B) Solid effort. On my second attempt I see the beauty and subtlety of this recipe. Turn up the specialty grains and you could have a solid imperial stout, turn down the grain/water ratio and you could have a solid porter.
Improvements: I might consider adding more flaked barley or oats for mouth feel as well as force carbonating it in a keg. This beer is ready for a variation I think so the next batch might be 4 gallons, One gallon to add bourbon or chocolate too. I should brew this again in October, schedule permitting.