“Be careful, both of you. The enemy has many spies – birds, beasts!”
“Radagast is, of course, a worthy wizard, a master of shapes and changes of hue; and he has much lore of herbs and beasts, and birds are especially his friends.”
-Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Oh, hearts of geekdom. Yes, yes, we know that “Radegast” refers to a Czech style of beer as well as the Slavic god of hospitality. But you can’t look at this bottle’s label without nerding out over some very Tookish flowery script! BadWolf also likes to play with our emotions a little bit in their naming conventions, so while this should have been a clue to perhaps expect a malty, bitter-forward porter our souls were given over to shouting “The eagles are coming!” as we searched out our Old Tobey, the finest weed in the South Farthing!
Err, we were here to talk about beer, right?
Radegast, BadWolf Brewing Co. (Manassas, VA)
Barrel Aged Vanilla Porter, 7% ABV, 37 IBU
Presentation: Bomber pour into tulip.
Appearance: More of an espresso pour that bears a striking resemblance to Coca-Cola as the glass winds down. The fizzy head achieves a matching effect, sans any lattice or residues. Once the beer gets to the bottom of the glass, though, lots of sediment appears to drain down along the edges.
Taste, pt. 1: Oaky vanilla all over the nose, quite rustic and bombastic. The barrel essence is the most striking part of the body, which is also high on toasted malts without the heavier body of a Stout. The finish is all bean – both espresso once again as well as more inklings of vanilla.
Taste, pt. 2: Owing to a gut feeling, I kept the bottle out a while after my initial pour. Now approaching the low-50s in temperature, the second dose was clearly a different brew. The head pour much frothier and saturated, while the nose was a rush of silt and silk, more rye whiskey. The vanilla really pushes forward as well and becomes a more dominant presence in the finish. More flavorful while also more refined.
Mouth Feel: Primarily clings to the roof of the mouth at first, but over time you get more sweeter malts at the front of the tongue as well. There’s no real bitterness or lingering flavors other than the malts, which is surprising given all the upfront oak.
Overall: This is a room temperature beer, if you ever choose to read into serving style. This was a decent beer to start with, but I enjoyed it far more after it had been open a full hour…a quarter of a point’s difference, more or less. I’d be curious to try this as a Real/Cask Ale, and imagine the conditioning would get even more of a chance to shine. This is a rare BadWolf release that’s making it onto shelves at retailers big and small in NoVA, so do keep an eye out for those birds and beasts that have so captured the eponymous wizard!