The latest special release from the fellers at 10 Barrel Brewing Company, which received a hearty thumbs-up from our editorial department, is now available for purchase. Finding the delicious Precursor Imperial Red Ale won't be easy, though, as the brewing task force only made 2,600 of 'em. Bourbon-barrel-aged brews such as this one often cause a split among beer lovers (and Source staffers) as they tend be strong and distinct in taste - this one weighs in at 10 percent ABV, 85 IBU.
The Precursor, however, was so damn good it earned unanimous praise from our crew. Its bourbon scent is noticeable, which makes sense because the brew has been marinating in bourbon barrels for the last eight months, but it doesn't overpower the beer. We found the imperial red ale to not only be quite complex, but also very drinkable - surprising for such a high-alcohol brew. Neither syrupy sweet nor overly bitter, the hop presence and heavy malt were appreciated, but not overdone.
Part of the charm of the small batch scene is that each bottle was corked and labeled by hand (we enjoyed #332, which was handwritten in black ink on our bottle). Discover the precious few at 10 Barrel, Newport Market and Whole Foods ($10).