With so many unique beers being produced in the Philadelphia region, it can be hard to create something that truly stands out and demands to be recognized. One such brew is Philadelphia Brewing Company’s Shackamaximum, a deep, dark, French-oak-barrel-aged imperial stout. The name refers to a 1682 treaty signed by William Penn and the Native American leaders of the Shackamaxon village, which later became the Kensington section of Philadelphia — PBC’s current home.
Poured from a 22-ounce bottle into a 10-ounce snifter glass, Shackamaximum appears deep black with a light, coffee-hued head of foam. Sweet scents of vanilla, thanks to the use of chocolate malt, hit the nose first, followed by hints of coffee and oak. Unlike many barrel-aged imperial stouts, Shackamaximum does carry any bourbon flavor, which is a welcome change of pace.
Instead, woody oak flavors play next to vanilla and black coffee for a nicely balanced profile on first sip. The layering provides a nice blend that works pretty well at hiding the strong, 10 percent ABV of the brew, though it’s not a complete success in this regard. In addition to the tinge of alcohol, there are so many flavors and so much sweetness that the beer can become slightly cloying by the second pour, if not sooner.
Whether you like the style or not, it’s nice to find a beer as unique as Shackamaximum. Philadelphia Brewing Co. offers the powerhouse at a very affordable price point, so this brew just might present the best value, ABV-wise, in the Philadelphia area or beyond. If you’re a fan of craft imperial stouts, definitely make a point to check out this beer.
— Mike Lorenz, The Drink Nation
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