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Belt’s Beer Garden: Dragoon Tales

Barrel-Aged The Nueve from Dragoon Brewing

Dragoon Brewing has been a staple of Tucson, Arizona for a decade now. They opened up in the city’s north side, right off of I-10, in 2012 and will be celebrating their tenth anniversary with a big party at the end of next month, on Saturday, April 30th.

While visiting the taproom last month I was able to snag a single can of one of their special releases, Barrel-Aged The Nueve.

The Nueve is a Russian Imperial Stout that was released to celebrate their eighth anniversary (interesting…). To get their Barrel-Aged The Nueve they took that base beer and then aged it in Four Roses Bourbon Barrels and added a splash of their The Diez to mellow it out. It was canned over a year ago, on January 14th, 2021, and each pint has a 10.7% ABV and 100 IBU. It was priced at $8 for a single 16-ounce can with a four-pack clocking in at $30.

When I poured it, it was pretty moderate in terms of thickness - not like some stouts that look like you’re pouring motor oil, but it was still thicker than most brews. It flowed out of the can with an opaque jet black color and just about a finger of brownish-tan head building up. The head was very effervescent and quickly fizzled down, leaving a razor thin ring around the edge of the glass and a single cloud of bubbles in the middle.

The aroma was boozy chocolate and roasted coffee, with big notes of bourbon and coffee beans. Joining the chocolate scent were hints of vanilla that added some extra sweetness to the beer and made it much more inviting. Behind the major smells was a light oaky characteristic from those Four Roses barrels.

The malts immediately slammed my tongue with that roasted coffee quality and some toasted grains. Those flavors didn’t last long, however, and I was quickly met with a small bourbon bite that burned the back of my tongue for a brief moment and added a little spice to the stout.

But, at the midway point, The Nueve turned sweeter. Huge waves of chocolate and vanilla quelled that initial hit of whiskey and coffee. While still sugary-sweet, the chocolate seemed to be more of a dark chocolate, as it added a slight bitterness that peeked out on occasion.

All the flavors lingered for a while afterwards but it was the chocolate and coffee that lasted the longest. The finish was mostly clean, with a bit of dryness and that roasted quality sticking around the longest. The stats say it has 100 IBU but it certainly doesn’t taste that high. Sure, that dark chocolate and coffee add some bitterness but not much at all.

Overall, it was quite an easy drinking Russian Imperial Stout; both in terms of flavor and body. The sweet finish made it drink much lighter than 10% and really blanketed that initial boozy twinge. And, just like it had poured, there was some thickness to the body of the beer but it wasn’t overly filling…just heavy enough to coat your stomach and cut your appetite.

Dragoon continues to be one of Arizona’s best breweries and this beer showcases that high standard found in their beers. Barrel-Aged The Nueve is a very well-made Stout that is worth the price.

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