What is it that makes an imperial stout an imperial stout? Is it just the alcohol content? Is it a good dose of earthy hops and dark roasted malt or hints of smoke? Is it the flavors of coffee, espresso, dark chocolate, or dried fruit? Is it barrel aging with notes of vanilla, bourbon, whiskey or rum?
The answer is simply, yes. It is any or all of these things, and Grand Teton's Black Cauldron combines them all. You get a quick little alcohol burn up front, bourbon with some vanilla, but it's quickly pushed aside to make room for semi sweet dark chocolate, a bit of coffee and a touch of smoke. The beer is slightly slippery and viscous in the mouth, but finishes dry. Aftertaste is very pleasant, with more chocolaty sweetness and baked fruit like cherries or figs. Light, prickly carbonation and relatively low ABV (7.5%) make it surprisingly easy to drink even in warmer weather. Great beer to serve as a "liquid dessert" and definitely a nice one for winter time.
I really dig the artwork on the bottle as well. The beer is named for Yellowstone's Black Dragon Cauldron, where hot water geysers blast up through black mud. Purchased as a 4-pack from Charleston Beer Exchange in South Carolina.