Winning the Cold (One) War

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North Carolina’s Unknown Brewing Co. strikes back with Dirty Commie Heathen.

It’s the story of the year. Did Russia interfere with the 2016 United States election? Did the Russian government have direct communication with the Trump team? Is this just a case of “fake news” or is there a willful attempt to cover up information that could involve the highest reaches of American politics?

Like any good patriotic American craft brewery, Charlotte, North Carolina’s Unknown Brewing Co. has entered the national debate with its latest Russian Imperial Stout offering dubbed Dirty Commie Heathen. Claiming in a press release to be a victim of a Russian hacking attempt, Unknown Brewing (tongue planted firmly in cheek) says the Russians infiltrated its network in order to steal the brewery’s top secret recipes. “Fed up with Russian interference,” Unknown’s Dirty Commie Heathen and its sister beer Krash the Kremlin were released earlier this year to widespread acclaim.

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Both beers are big enough to warm you on cold Siberian nights thanks to a hefty 12.4 percent alcohol by volume. Both beers have tasting notes that inspire references to chocolate, toffee and hard candies. Dirty Commie Heathen goes even farther, however, with a large cherry addition and aging in bourbon barrels for a complex, chocolate-covered cherry-esque tasting experience worthy of being a high-end digestif. Think of it as a slow burn, roasted, malt cocktail in a stout glass.

Russian Imperial Stouts can be a tough style to crack and adding the barrel-aging process to the mix often leads to muddy, indistinct offerings. Unknown’s Dirty Commie Heathen hits a sweet spot where the delicate cherry stands strong against the invading dark malts and boozy high notes to craft a sought-after brew worthy of the good ol’ USA.

Dirty Commie Heathen was released in the 22-oz. bottle format (complete with a label image of Stalin) at the Unknown Brewing taproom as well as limited distribution in late February.