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Monday, September 9, 2013

Fall Beer- Anderson Valley Bourbon Barrel Stout

It's finally fall, and that means cold weather, baseball playoffs (God willing around Boston for the first time in 3 years), and football.

It also means break out the fall beers- Octoberfest, Pumpkins, and all kinds of stouts and porters. Thick, rich, flavorful beers, often higher in alcohol content, that can keep you warm on a cold Fall night.

Typically in fall I gravitate immediately to Octoberfest as my first beer, quickly followed by a pumpkin or two. But this fall a newcomer caught my eye- a barrel aged stout by Anderson Valley Brewing Company.

Aged in Wild Turkey Barrels, this was just something I couldn't say "no" to, especially after a month of IPA's. I had finally tried Anderson Valleys IPA as part of IPA Month, and found it to be excellent, so I couldn't resist this barrel aged stout. Barrels often do great things to stouts and porters, and when the opportunity came to try a new one, well, I just couldn't pass it up. And boy an I glad I didn't..

Bourbon Barrel Stout
Anderson Valley Brewing Company
Boonville, CA
6.9% ABV, 14 IBUs

Bourbon Barrel Stout pours like a great stout should- dark black, viscous, with two inches of thick, tight brown head.

Smell is Earthy, smokey peat and malt, with a touch of wood. There is no noticeable alcohol character in the nose, which is a surprise given where it was aged.

Mouthfeel is of moderate weight, creamy, with a luscious, super silky swallow.

Taste begins with lots of wood with hints of vanilla up front- Oak, I think- transitioning to a nice, alcohol bourbon warmth and taste, which is surprisingly restrained. A malty smokiness follows this, with note of burnt coffee and chocolate. It finishes with a subtle hop citrus bitter, which nicely complements and  balances out the complex elements of this beer.

There is a ton of complex and delicious flavor in this beer. Brewed with a huge malt bill- Pale Two-Row, Crystal (40L & 80L), Roasted Barley, Munich, Chocolate, Oats, and hopped with Columbus, Northern Brewer, and on top off all that aged in Wild Turkey Barrels. I expected a much more "in your face" alcohol burn, but its wonderfully modest in that regard. The alcohol warmth is there, but it's not a burn as you'd expect. This is what I love about barrel aging a beer- and this beer was aged for 3 months in the barrels- the wood mellows everything, and this allows the flavors of the bourbon to come through and incorporate so well with the malts and hops.

This is an excellent, excellent beer- a true "WOW" beer. Perfect for cold weather, sitting in the recliner by the fire, or sitting outside by the fire pit. I highly recommend it, if you can find it. It tends to fly off store shelves, be warned.


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