Photos by Kevin Gibson.
The name is simply, “Bomb!” Brewers don’t use exclamation points lightly, and that is perhaps significant to note for this beer from Prairie Artisan Ales than for most. Why? Because, as a writer, as much as I despise exclamation points, this beer really deserves an exclamation point.
The Tulsa, Okla., brewery has seen Bomb! – usually referred to on the streets as Prairie Bomb! – become a Top 100 Beer in the World on RateBeer for three consecutive years. Let’s just say the latest version I tried is as worthy as ever.
I managed to stumble across a stray keg at my neighborhood pub the same day I bought a single Bomb! at my local bottle shop, so I got twice the mileage, twice the fun this winter, getting a draft version and a packaged version. I didn’t find much difference; suffice to say, it’s just a great beer that is perfect for winter months.
Bomb! is an imperial stout that is aged on cocoa nibs, coffee, vanilla beans and ancho chilis. And when I say imperial, I mean it is a giant of a beer. At 13 percent ABV, it is a winter warmer and then some, sure to warm more than just your belly during a snow-in. You may not even need wood for the fireplace.
Anyway, I decided to pay close attention to the bottled version I procured, pouring it into a tulip glass. The beer is stark black, with just a minimal head of dark tan. One whiff told me all I needed to know, as it was – pardon the pun – an explosion of roasted malts, chocolate and vanilla. The peppers get only a hint in the aroma, but this portends what’s to come.
I took a sip, and enjoyed at first the thick, creamy beer in my mouth. Of course, the rush of flavor quickly overcame the texture, as another explosion of flavor took place on all facets of my palate. Sweet met bitter as coffee and dark chocolate swirled with vanilla notes.
As I took two or three more sips, the flavors at the back of my palate opened up, revealing the bite of the ancho peppers, which blended nicely with the boozy finish for a warming sensation that only got warmer as I continued to sip. The finish really does round out the experience of a Prairie Bomb!
I made my way through the beer, maybe with a distraction or two, but I noted that as I tasted the peppers more, they became more prevalent in the aroma as well. (Ah, the joys of the olfactory.) As a fan of spice, I love this aspect of Bomb!, or any pepper beer.
Bottom line is that this annual winter winner from Prairie Artisan Ales is just a superb stout, deserving over every accolade it receives. And if I find more, I’ll buy it. Now I wish I’d bought more than just one bottle.