Atwater Brewery to Release Barrel Aged VJ Black Imperial Stout

DETROIT —  Aging beer in barrels goes back to the days of the Greeks and Romans, but in the U.S. the tradition is much more recent – about a quarter century.  Detroit’s Atwater Brewery is set to tap its most successful aged beer, a limited volume 2020 barrel-aged VJ Black Imperial Stout (ABV: 11%) on Thursday, February 20, at 5:00 p.m. at its Detroit, Grosse Point and Grand Rapids Taphouse and Biergarden locations.

Historically all beers were barrel aged because that’s how they were stored and served.  Besides the convenience, barrel aging gives the beers a warm, mellow or toasted taste, plus the distinct flavors of the wood barrels themselves and the bourbon that may have been stored in them.

VJ Black Imperial Stout is a derivative of Atwater’s popular Vanilla Java Porter aged for a full year in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels to create the desired, full-bodied flavor that warms you from the inside.  The brew’s complex flavors include vanilla and coffee with more prominent bourbon and oak edges. The liquid was produced, aged and packaged in Atwater’s Detroit brewery, making it one of the only barrel aged beers produced entirely in Detroit.

“This Imperial Stout is very, very special,” says Atwater owner Mark Rieth. “Our brewers spent a lot of time getting it just right and they’ve come up with a unique taste you won’t get anywhere else. Our initial production run in 2018 was met with great enthusiasm. I only wish we could produce more of it.”

VJ Black Imperial Stout will be tapped exclusively at Atwater’s tap rooms –  in Rivertown at 237 Joseph Campau in Detroit, Atwater in the Park in Grosse Point Park, and Atwater Grand Rapids.  It will also be available in four pack bottles at the Atwater locations and at select Atwater retailers throughout Michigan.

Like all Atwater brews, the VJ Black will feature unique labels by well-known Detroit artist Tony Roko who says he creates labels “as if I were casting characters for a silent film. I try to capture the personality of the beer through color and expression.”

Based on initial customer reaction and robust presales, VJ Black Imperial Stout won’t be around for long. Join the February 20 event for your best chance to taste the beer and perhaps bring a four pack back to your own fridge.

Learn more at

About Atwater Brewery

Atwater Brewery. Born in Detroit. Raised Everywhere. Atwater offers 40 styles of beer led by its popular Purple Gang Pilsner, Better Life Choices IPA, Vanilla Java Porter, Dirty Blonde and its “World Beer Cup” award winning Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale. Atwater distributes its beer to 21 states plus select international markets and offers a proprietary line of craft spirits.  Atwater operates three full-service tap house and biergarten locations in Detroit, Grosse Pointe and Grand Rapids, MI.  Find us on Facebook or visit

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