Thursday, March 1, 2012

Beer Review: Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks

Reviewing the Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks from the Mutiny Fleet series of Heavy Seas Beer.
Score: 90

2011 vintage bottle served in a Surly Darkness snifter and enjoyed on 02/29/12.

Appearance: Pours a rich, dark mahogany color -- cognac-like, albeit in a darker tint, in appearance. Pours one finger of creamy cream colored head at pour that settles into a thin ring around the glass. Appearance falls between translucent and opaque. There is a dark brown center surrounded by thick globs of reddish brown highlights when held up to light. Minimal lacing, minimal retention. 3.5/5

Smell: First impression is caramel, vanilla and booze. More wafts reveal brown sugar, dark fruit, barley, plum and "birthday cake." There is also an aroma of sweet red grape that is not in the least tart or acidic. Also detecting what can only be describes as the smell of a "leather belt." 4/5

Taste: This brew is very bourbon barrel-forward on the palate, and the taste is pretty much dominated by three flavors: bourbon soaked raisins/fig, vanilla and sweet red grape that is neither tart nor acidic. There's also a distinct "whiskey-like malt" flavor and boozy caramel. Some brown sugar too. Huge bourbon soaked raisin backbone. This one is super malty, but it's not very "grainy" in flavor -- which is great. The 10% ABV definitely shines through and renders this one is a sipper, but it is far from the type of beer that burns on the way down or makes you cringe. To the contrary, it is quite the pleasant brew to sip and the kind of beer that should be enjoyed as it warms. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied with low/minimal carbonation. There is just enough carbonation to make some of the alcohol flavor prickle the tongue and make the "whiskey malt" flavors shine through. This brew has a syrupy mouthfeel and seems to have a chloraseptic lozenge "rigid numbing effect" on the throat. Finsh is a little dry and sweet -- even a little sticky at points. 4/5

Overall: Like the Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine, this is a super solid barrel aged barleywine at a very reasonable cost. For under $10 a bottle, I would certainly seek this one out again.

Recommendation: The flavors of this beer might be a little aggressive for the casual beer drinker, but beer geeks and those who like whiskey/bourbon should give this one a whirl.

Pairings: Lamb.

Cost: $7.99

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