In the realm of visual appeal, Monday Night Brewing’s Ante Meridiem doesn’t fail to make a statement. Poured into globe glassware from a 750mL bottle, the beer presents itself as a deep black, adorned with maroon highlights along the edges. The initial head formation is promising, but it swiftly settles into a thin layer of tan bubbles.


Ante Meridiem’s olfactory introduction is bold, with a strong presence of dark alcohol upfront, reminiscent of Frangelico liqueur. This boozy essence gracefully transforms into notes of dark cherry and blackberry, creating an intricate dance of aromas. The inclusion of high-quality coffee becomes evident, evolving as the beer warms up. The nose takes on a smoky and savory character, maintaining a robust combination of dark alcohol and potent coffee. While hints of vanilla and maple are hinted at, they require a bit of a hunt to be fully appreciated.


Contrary to expectations based on its specifications, Ante Meridiem surprises with a taste profile that deviates from excessive sweetness or booziness. The vanilla and maple adjuncts play a subdued role, allowing the essence of a commendable bourbon barrel coffee stout to take the lead. Despite its categorization as an imperial brown ale, the beer leans more towards the characteristics of an imperial stout, where bitter, roasty coffee flavors reign supreme. The anticipated emergence of sweet dessert notes remains elusive, as confirmed by a blind tasting session involving six participants who unanimously perceived it as a bourbon barrel coffee stout.


What sets Ante Meridiem apart is its commendable dryness, steering clear of the pitfalls of syrupy or overly sweet textures. Despite its robust recipe, the beer manages to attenuate effectively, leaving behind minimal residual sugar. The addition of coffee contributes a notable acidity that persists through the finish. This results in a surprisingly balanced beer with a lighter to medium body, making it remarkably easy to savor. Given its formidable alcohol by volume (ABV), however, sharing this brew with a group is advised.


In the grand tapestry of Monday Night Brewing’s offerings, Ante Meridiem from the special release Garage Series stands out for its distinctive qualities. While the promised vanilla and maple notes may play a game of hide-and-seek, the beer excels in delivering a well-crafted bourbon barrel coffee stout experience. Its unexpected dryness and balanced profile make it an enjoyable venture, albeit one that should be approached with a group due to its potent ABV. The unanimous high marks from a blind tasting panel further validate its commendable execution. Cheers to Monday Night Brewing for this impressive addition to their repertoire!