The Temptress. It's a name those in the know associate with an imperial milk stout produced by the Lakewood Brewing Company, but more and more it may become the beer most synonymous with the phrase "what's your poison?"
Depending on individual impressions, Temptress evokes images of cookie batter, fudge brownies or the one I lean toward most, chocolate molten lava cake. The commonality in all three, of course, being the presence in varying amounts of dark, semi-sweet and milk chocolate. Couple that with the inclusion of lactose sugar and vanilla, and this brew's decadent nature would not appear to be up for debate. What might be, however, is how to choose among the growing number of variations this beer has inspired.
There's Temptress Nitro, a brew that could just as easily be referred to as the Smooth Operator, Sin Mint, the thin mint-like after-dinner indulgence we've discussed previously, and French Quarter Temptress (the beer formerly known as Bourbon Street Temptress), a coffee and chicory-infused version that finishes with a splash of bourbon.
Such affinities for enrichment are indicative of a sturdy, versatile beer that doesn't back down in the face of bold new ingredients. Clearly, Temptress is one that plays well with others. Send her away for a spell, and you'll find that she's one that ages well too.
Enter Bourbon Barrel Temptress (BBT), a complex and layered creation that would seem to be the very definition of a beer geek's beer. Aged in spent Bulleit Bourbon casks, the barrel attributes provide a fitting compliment to the flavor profile of the original. More importantly, BBT avoids being barrel dominant in a market overrun with boozy, bourbon-forward creations that offer only a scant reminder of the underlying base beer.
As for what further temptations we can expect from this dark damsel, one can only imagine what the future holds. A raspberry or cherry addition could have possibilities (recall the Common Table's Cherry Bourbon Milkshake), as would a restrained mole treatment. I can even think of a Peanut Butter Cup Stout I tried at this year's Great American Beer Festival that might provide inspiration as well.
For now, though, time is running out on your chance to indulge in this year's batch of BBT. One of the last remaining kegs will be tapped on Saturday, February 2, as part of Craft and Growler's Grand Opening celebration. Should you miss out, you can hold out hope for a secret stash at your local pub, or you can take solace with Temptress in her natural form, available year-round on draught and in 4-packs of 12 oz bottles.