1. Rogue Morimoto Hazelnut Ale
This is an example of trickery. Trickery that I fell for easily. As a big fan of Rogue Ales, my eyes locked into this beer at a bottle shop, thinking it was a variation of their signature hazelnut ale, since they have a few collaboration ales with Chef Morimoto. Nope. Same beer. May as well have had a vortex neck. That said, I'm not complaining because Rogue's Hazelnut Ale is probably my favorite of their beers and is one that I could drink anytime. Great hazelnut aroma. Delicious combination of chocolate, caramel and of course hazelnut in the taste. Well balanced and great mouthfeel. Not too over the top at 6.2% so drinking a bomber (or two) yourself isn't a problem. In all honesty, if I had known it was the same beer in different packaging, I probably still would have bought it. You win this round, Rogue.
Overall Rating: A- (The minus is for the trickery)
2. Schlafly Reserve Imperial Stout
Schlafly is a brewery that's established itself on my beer radar, and considering my smarts evidenced above, that's not hard to do. But the few beers that I've had from this St. Louis brewery have been pretty damn good. This one tops the list. First of all, combine bourbon, barrel and stout in the name of the beer and it's hard to go wrong. Combining bourbon and beer is a magical thing. This beer is made with a lot of malts and hops to blend well with the sweetness of the alcohol and bourbon influence. I would love to deconstruct this beer to taste it before going in the bourbon barrels and then having it on cask before being carbonated, but the end product is fantastic. The bourbon flavor complements the rich, dark imperial stout, resulting in a smooth, creamy beer with a nice, warm finish. Nothing to mess around with at 10.5% ABV but I'd definitely buy it again.
Overall Rating: A+