Oak Aged Imperial Red, part of the limited edition Venture Series from Madhouse Brewing Company in Newton, Iowa, is a well-done beer that gains much of its flavor from judicious oak aging combined with chocolate malt flavors.
The beer pours a deep honey brown with a short, taupe head. Its aroma is of citrusy hops that remind of grapefruit combined with minor notes of caramel malt.
The beer's initial flavor is of light chocolate malt with modest notes of oak. Hop flavors are grassy and somewhat herbal. Those hop flavors play well with the beer's chocolate flavors.
At mid-tongue, chocolate flavors dominate and combine with light-handed oak and vanilla notes. Oak notes - while light - teeter towards the brink of mild astringency, but the beer remains very well balanced. Hop bitterness is modest at mid-tongue and shows as grassy flavors. Some hints of caramel flavor show, but those flavors imparted little sweetness to an otherwise very dry beer.
Grassy hop flavors that were, until now, playing only a supporting role come into the forefront at the back of the throat. At the same time, chocolate flavors become subordinate with minor notes of caramel and toffee - and a VERY wee bit of sweetness - showing. Oak and vanilla flavors continue and are well balanced with the beer's chocolate and caramel.
The finish on Oak Aged Imperial Red is bone dry and seems to go on forever. The beer finally ends on a grassy/herbal hop note with some alcohol warmth showing.
I consider Oak Aged Imperial Red to be full flavored and medium bodied. It has a smooth and creamy mouthfeel and is listed at 8.5% alcohol by volume and 50 IBUs.
The beer was purchased at the HyVee Wine and Spirits' west side location in Norfolk, Neb.