Nick Carr on December 6, 2018 1 Comment Photo Credit: Guinness & Co. / Diageo Beer Company USA Quick Characteristics Brewery Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House Location Baltimore, MD Style Barrel-Aged Stout ABV 10.0% IBU ? Hops ? Malts ? Shelf Life Years. Many Years. Suggested Glass Snifter Serving Temp 50-55°F Availability Limited Food Pairings Roast, Sheppard’s Pie, Blue Cheese, Chocolate Berry pie The beer world must have had more than a sneaking suspicion this was coming. I mean the newly built Guinness Brewery is housed in a building that was originally part of the first distillery to open after prohibition (1934) in Maryland. And if that wasn’t enough of a hint the new brewery’s name clinched it: Open Gate Brewery and Barrel House. So Guinness making a barrel aged beer shouldn’t come as any kind of surprise. (and what else could the first one be, but a stout?) No doubt, everyone was just wondering how long it would take them to get it made and released. Well, SURPRISE! It’s been released. And just in time to help us celebrate the holidays and warm spirits on cold winter nights. Guinness has a lot going for it when it comes to playing the barrel aging game. Because it is part of the Diageo brand, Guinness has singular access to some of the best known liquor in the world, including Julio Tequila, Zacapa Rum, and Glenkinchie Whiskey. So, they have a lot of cards to play with. For this first hand they choose their Dublin brewed Antwerpen stout and Bulleit whiskey barrels shipped to the new Baltimore brewery from Kentucky. Thus, the beer’s catchy tagline: “Brewed in Dublin. Aged in Baltimore.” Antwerpen stout is another reanimated recipe from the Guinness archives. It is based on Guinness Special Export, a beer the brewing company exported to Belgium (in oak barrels) during the last years of World War Two. At 8.0% ABV, it is the strongest of Guinness’s year round line, and lends itself rather well to the idea of some wood aging. Bulleit got its start in 1987 when Thomas E. Bulleit Jr. revived a recipe for high-rye content whiskey that dated back to between the mid 1800s and his great-great-grandfather, Augustus Bulleit. The Bulleit Distilling Company is located in Louisville Kentucky. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Guinness’s Barrel Aged Stout. If you’ve tasted this beer or have a pint sitting in front of you as you read this review, please share your thoughts with everyone down in the comments below. The Pour: Pours a very dark, near opaque, brown. Held to strong light it shows pockets of garnet coloring around the edges. A healthy, creamy, two finger head builds, showing the mocha coloring of any stout worth its roast. Head retention is superb. The Aroma: Aroma gives strong notes of vanilla and oak; some caramel and a slight sour dark berry and raisin backdrop. The barrel elements aren’t right in your face but present enough that I wonder what complexities may be getting lost behind it. There are some slight whiff of chocolate and licorice; whispers of butterscotch and roast maybe, but not much. The Mouthfeel: It is on the light side of full-bodied with a very smooth mouthfeel. Carbonation is medium. Little bite of alcohol warmth and spiciness. Dries at the back. The Taste: Woody, with bittersweet chocolate and dark caramel undertones at the front of the palate. Some vanilla and dried fruit whispers right before a light booziness kicks in. Some mellow tannin-like bitterness. The oaky spice stays through the finish drying it out a bit; extends well into the aftertaste. It’s easy drinking for a barrel-aged stout. FINISHING THOUGHTS This beer can certainly hold its own in the Guinness line. It’s solid. I think some of the flavor subtleties get lost behind the barrel-aging and perhaps the body could have been slightly thicker, but overall it’s a great, easy-drinking beer. The easiest way to describe it is mellow. The whole thing is mellow. No strong stout flavors standing out, but there are whispers of the base beer. The oak-aging brings some interest in the form of vanilla and light wood char, but again, it’s relatively mellow compared to other barrel aged stouts. I’d have a mind to age a couple of bottles of this one just to see how that might bring out some of the underlying flavors, round out the oakiness, maybe add to the complexity. This one would actually work pretty well as an introduction to barrel-aged beers. And maybe that’s what Guinness had in mind; maybe because they are so well known and so ubiquitous across the world, they were going for something easily approachable. Guinness’s first barrel aged stout is available in limited quantities and only for a limited time so if you happen to be a barrel-aged beer buff or just love all things Guinness… Well, you better get out there and snap it up while you can. Cheers!