Since it started brewing last Fall, Octopi Brewing in Waunakee has produced about 12,000 barrels of beer, and it’s on track to reach 20,000 barrels in 2017. That amount of beer could establish it firmly among the top 10 Wisconsin craft beer companies by annual barrelage. Not bad for a brewery that young. Octopi brews under contract for others while also producing its own in-house beer under the 3rd Sign label. Among its newest beers is an imperial stout called Osiris Oak.
What is it? Osiris Oak imperial stout from 3rd Sign of Waunakee.
Style: The imperial stout is rich in maltiness and strength. The imperial designation means it’s a stronger, more robust, version of stout, often with a 7 percent-12 percent ABV. These beers have roasted bitterness with lingering warmth and a spicy, malty finish.
Background: On Oct. 22, the brewery celebrated its first anniversary. To mark the occasion it offered four new 3rd Sign beers, including Osiris Oak, a bigger version of Osiris Afterlife, as well as two barrel-aged beers that are the first in an emerging barrel-aged program. The beer is named after Osiris, an Egyptian god of the afterlife associated with transition and regeneration.
Osiris Oak is made with lots of dark malts, which give it its black color and roasted chocolate and toffee flavors. It’s hopped with a combination of Cascade, Northern Brewer and East Kent Goldings. This imperial stout is aged with oak staves, which remain in the beer for about four months before it’s bottled. The beer picks up qualities of whatever type of wood the staves are made from. In this process the emphasis is on the wood itself, in contrast to barrel-aging, where the emphasis is on the qualities that come from the bourbon or whiskey previously stored in the barrels.
Osiris Oak finishes at 9 percent ABV. It’s available for a limited time this fall in 22-ounce bombers for $8 in the brewery’s taproom in Waunakee and a few of Madison’s more beer-focused liquor stores.
Aroma: A light roasted, toasted breadiness. There’s also a hint of toffee in the nose.
Appearance: Very dark black color, with a modest, bubbly tan-brown head.
Texture: Medium- to full-bodied, with a light, thin roundness.
Taste: Begins with roasted maltiness that has hints of dry bitter coffee. As the beer warms, there’s more roasted chocolate and subtle fruity hints of plum and grape.
Finish/Aftertaste: The roastedness lingers with a light dryness and subtle oaky sweetness (the oak will emerge more as the beer warms to room temperature).
Glassware: Osiris Oak is well suited for a snifter. Hold the glass in the palm of your hand to allow it to slowly warm; the semi-sweet tones of the dark malts and oak will emerge even more.
Pairs well with: A slice of chocolate cheesecake with raspberry or cherry topping and you’ll find even more roasted and toffee tones. It can also make a good match with pumpkin pie.
The Verdict: The imperial stout is a showcase for rich roasted maltiness. I like Osiris Oak for its smooth dry roastedness and alcoholic warmth. Look for layers of malt and the subtle hint of oak in the finish. I wish it had more oak throughout the flavor profile, and a bit more body. However, as it is, it’s more approachable for a range of drinkers without the harsh burnt roastedness often found in other well-known imperial stouts.