As the inky blackness slowly filled my glass, my anticipation level rose even faster. Fuquay-Varina's Aviator Brewing
announced this week that it would release a limited amount of its barrel-aged Night Jump Imperial Stout to market, and I and countless other stouts lovers immediately began haunting local bottle shops in a desperate search. At last, I had found it.
What's the big deal, you ask? There are hundreds of stouts. True, but Night Jump is one of Aviator's rare brews. It isn't in regular rotation, and it isn't even a “seasonal” produced once a year. But it's not just scarce, it's damn good. It grabbed first place among stouts at the 2015 N.C. State Fair brewing contest
, organized by the N.C. Craft Brewers Guild and judged by 30 beer professionals.
But Night Jump's pedigree wasn't cluttering my mind as the barman pulled the glass from the tap and placed it before me. A primal “gimme” was the only thought my thirsty soul could muster. Still, I paused for a moment of appreciation, staring into the brew's deep-space blackness and the head's roasty brown top.
Enough reverent reflection; let's drink. There's a hint of the whiskey barrel in the aroma, along with the scent of malts. Its mouthfeel is one of soothing viscosity. Finely balanced, no single flavor dominates. After a few sips, there is a pleasing lace along the emptied portion of the glass. A trace of bitterness at the finish caps it off. The average Russian Imperial Stout clocks in between 8 and 12 percent ABV. Night Jump is 13 percent ABV, but it drinks so that you could be well onto your third glass before noticing. Trust me on that.
I found it at Crafty Beer Shop
in Raleigh's Lafayette Village, but according to Aviator, several bottle shops in the Triangle will serve Night Jump while it lasts.
If you are a stout fan, do it.