Nick Carr on June 27, 2016 1 Comment Quick Characteristics Brewery: Anderson Valley Brewing Company Location: Boonville, CA Style: Wood-Aged Stout (Oatmeal) ABV: 6.9% IBU: 14 Appearance: Opaque darkness topped with mocha-colored head. Aroma: Soft, oaky vanilla with a backbone of dark malts; Notes of caramel and chocolate follow, along with hints of coffee. Flavor: Semi-sweet that warms to dark malty espresso; Notes of vanilla & bourbon are mellow; Restrained bitterness with hints of dark fruits; Dry finish with vanilla aftertaste. Hops: Columbus, Northern Brewer Malts: Pale Two-Row, Crystal 40, Crystal 80, Roasted Barley, Munich, Chocolate, Oats Shelf Life: 1+ years Suggested Glass: Snifter or Nonic Pint Serving Temp: 50-55°F Availability: Seasonal Pairs With: Pulled Pork, Tex-Mex Tacos, Cheeseburgers, Venison, Smoked Gouda, Fruity Custard dishes, Beer Float w/ Vanilla Ice Cream Time for a summer evening sipper! I’ve reviewed another of Anderson Valley’s fine beers; their Winter Solstice and have tried several others. All are worthy enjoyments. But this will be my first foray into their specialty brews. I’m excited! Wood aged, especially bourbon barrel aged, beers are gaining more and more popularity. Some breweries define themselves by their barrel aging. For others it’s just a sideline, another path to express experimental creativity. Even my own small neighborhood brewpub has started to dabble in barrels. Anderson Valley started their adventure in barrel aging back in 2012 when they partnered with Wild Turkey® as a barrel-age source and gained exclusive access to this particular bourbon profile. For their first act, they decided to go with a tried and true recipe and dumped a batch of their popular Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout into barrels to age for 3 months. The experiment was supposed to be a limited one-off run, but the aged beer got such acclaim they decided to expand production. Since the success of Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout, Anderson Valley has continued experimenting with barrel aging. Sometimes it’s a onetime exclusive such as a rye stout, but they do have plans to release at least 4 of the beers to a wider audience. For 2016, the line-up includes; an imperial stout (Huge Arker) released from January to February, Salted Caramel Porter from April to May, a pumpkin ale (Pinchy Jeeks) from July to August, and this stout is available all year long. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout. If you’ve had this beer, please share your thoughts with me and everyone else down in the comments below. Pour and Aroma: Pours with the appropriate black-hole-like totally opaque darkness. It is topped by a small-bubbled mocha colored head that rises to about a finger before shyly receding. Aroma is soft, full of nuanced oaky vanilla, playing well with a backbone built of dark malts, shinning caramel and softly glowing chocolate, hints of light coffee. Mouthfeel and Taste: The body is on the light side of medium and the mouthfeel is smooth, with low carbonation, and light warming. It almost seems to float; only ever-so-gently brushing the palate with its warming, woody embrace. Flavors open semi-sweet on the front of the palate, transitioning to warming dark breadiness and light espresso. Slight dark fruitiness is present, but remains a subdued whisper. Bitterness is very restrained. The signature oaky vanilla and woodiness of Bourbon come through quite mellow and controlled. It is a tender whispered signature, one much restrained when compared to some of the other offerings of the same ilk… It’s a good thing here. It dries out a bit before the swallow with nice woody vanilla and light roast in the aftertaste. FINISHING THOUGHTS All around it’s a beautiful beer! The dark roast and barrel flavors play nice together, augmenting one another nicely, while remaining mellow overall. I love barrel aged beers, but I have found several making too strong a statement for the barrel they were aged in. Bourbon and wood and alcohol warmth are all great things, but overdone, they make a beer hot and unbalanced. This one reminds me of a happy 50 year marriage; the couple knows one another’s every nuance, there’s loving warmth but no fiery arguments, and they fit together perfectly. It would be interesting to try a couple of their other barrel-aged beers and see if they have been able to be consistent with this great “mellowness” I find so appealing in this stout. Just another thing to add to my list of beer exploring adventures. Though it goes slightly against the style, the lighter body actually plays well with the added barrel elements to create that awesome mouthfeel of floating weightiness. Some may take points off for the lighter body, but it’s not a thin body, and I think it works wonders here. If you’re looking for something with robust, complex flavors while remaining relatively low in the ABV department this one’s recommended. Cheers!