Barrel Aged Brrrbon
Brothers' Reserve Series
Brrr aged in Bourbon Oak Barrels
Purchased at 99 Bottles
Aroma: Fresh white oak, if there is such a thing. I say fresh and white because the wood character comes off the top edgy and young. Second to the oak you'll find Bourbon notes and alcohol, with the Bourbon slightly winning over. No hop aroma, little to no malt in the nose either. There is an underlying 'rust' aroma, and I don't mean to imply Metallic. Simply an earthy blend of wood and alcohol.
Appearance: The lightest brown to mahogany red with crystal clarity. Head is but a trace of an off-white ring at the edge of the glass. Touches of lacing here and there.
Flavor: Sweet toasted bread malt with the expected wooded bourbon quickly following up the malt. These two flavors dominate the palate, while black pepper, some clove and all-spice blend into the mix. Finish is biting from the bourbon, but the malt sweetness hangs on.
Mouthfeel: Medium body with light carbonation. The carbonation is similar to cask conditioned ales, with only the slightest presence. 9.4% Alcohol hits the back of the throat in the finish
Overall: There is a welcoming Winter Brew character to this beer that fits the season nicely. The Bourbon oak aroma is like sticking your nose in a freshly toasted oak barrel. Typically I find oak aged beers have a deeper wood presence, but the barrel aging here tells of youthful oak. Personally I enjoy the change, but some will find the wood to be too 'green' I imagine.
I rated this beer an “A-” on BeerAdvocate.
Note: After rating this beer on BeerAdvocate.com I noticed my rating carried a deviation of 12% greater than the current norm. Overall, as of this writing, this beer scores a solid “B”. While I am certain I have a bias toward Widmer Brother’s for my own reason, I am also certain there are many people who carry the opposite bias, for whatever reason.
I may choose to write further on this subject. Though for now I can only speculate why I often see negative comments toward this long-running and successful brewery. Perhaps it’s their relatively large size, their affiliation with AB-Inbev, or perhaps because they weren’t going out on a limb with extreme brews for a number of years. Whatever the reason I would challenge any beer dork to blind taste tests with Widmer in the mix, it would probably be healthy for me as well. I would wager the results would be surprising.