Beer Review: Straight to Ale Brewing Cabernet Barrel Aged Laika


Brewery: Straight to Ale Brewing
Beer: Cabernet Barrel Aged Laika
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 11.7%
Character: Russian Imperial Stout which has been aged in Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Barrels for about 6 months.
Metal Connection: SPACE CHASER – Waste Crawler


cabernet_laikaOne thing I really love about the Craft Beer Community is the friendship I have developed with people who share the same love that I do for the craft. As a member of a private beer group of Facebook, a trade was conducted between a new friend, Carson Langley and myself. This beer was part of the first shipment received. A huge thanks goes to Carson for contributing this amazing beer to be featured here on BeerMetalDude.

This is the first time hearing about Straight to Ale Brewing from Huntsville, AL. This brewery seems to be doing well, and have an impressive line-up of year-round, seasonal, and one-off beers. The base of this beer is Laika, a Russian Imperial Stout named after the Russian space dog. This version here was aged in Cabernet Sauvignon wine barrels. They also release a bourbon barrel aged version, which the review will be coming later on that one.

Using a Big Hops Growler Station snifter glass for this session. The beer poured an opaque pitch black color crowned with a thin tan colored line of bubbly head. I did not fill the glass the entire way up, as this bottle was shared among friends, so the pour was done softly to avoid any waist and shared evenly. There was not much head retention in my glass, as the thin line faded to almost nothing on top the beer, leaving no lacing down the glass. It wasn’t completely flat or anything, just not much head or lacing.

The nose of this beer was very pleasing. I am a huge fan of wine barrel aged beers. The aroma of the red wine was present and up front, mixed with wood, dark chocolate, dark fruits like plum, prunes, grapes, and cherries. There is a nice underlying scent of black licorice, but it’s not heavy. There is a hot boozy burn in the nose that lingers a bit after each whiff.

The taste follows the nose, introducing me to the Cabernet red wine first. Flavors of grapes, and cherries hit the palate, giving this beer a tart, very subtle sourness to it that blends perfectly with the other great flavors this Imperial Russian Stout gives off, like the dark chocolate, licorice and dark fruits. There is a woodiness to this beer that hits the tastes buds at the end of the swill, and lingers a bit along with the hot alcohol burn in the throat. This beer does not hide it’s high ABV, and it works perfectly.

This version of Laika has a thick body, mild carbonation, and has a mouthfeel that is smooth, a bit oily, and finishes dry.

Of the beers I received in this shipment, this is the one I was most excited about, and it proved me right in so many ways. This beer was excellent. Aging this already spacechaserimpressive Imperial Russian Stout in Cabernet red wine barrels proved to be a great addition. I am on the hunt for another bottle of this good stuff right here.

Metal Connection: Seeing as this beer was named after a Russian space dog, I thought what better way to compliment this beer than with a band that is about space. I discovered a fairly new Thrash Metal band from Germany named SPACE CHASER who just released their debut full length album entitled, Watch the Skies on This Charming Man Records, also from Germany. The lyrical themes of this band on this album are about aliens, zombies, and alcohol. Perfect! Check out this official music video for their song, “Waste Crawler.”


Author: BeerMetalDude

Owner of Beer Metal Media. Creator/Host of The Beer Metal Show Podcast & It Came from the Cellar Podcast

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