Abacus is a bourbon barrel aged English style barley wine that has a bigger malt base for the higher ABV and overall taste, and is moderately hopped, with the hops mainly acting as a preservative for the life of barrel aging. When I first had this beer it was on tap in 2011 when it as first released in bottles. The alcohol was pretty hot and the remains of the hops were still prevalent.

Over the past 3 years, this beer has aged and mellowed excellently. The aroma offers up dark dried fruits like cherry, fig, and some raisin. A fair amount of caramel is accompanied by caramelized sugar, some bourbon, and soaked oak wood. The smell of this beer hints at the possibility that time has tamed this beast into a well blended brew.

The flavor hits on what you would have hoped for. The hops have faded leaving a mere bittering afterthought and the heat of the 13% ABV has died down considerably. Sweet, sticky malts, really faint chocolate and vanilla, and caramel are up front followed by brown sugar, molasses and some tobacco toward the middle to end of the taste. The bourbon has mellowed but still sits evenly within the flavor profile while the oak barrel really ties the whole thing together.

This beer has aged extremely well and is drinking nearly perfectly after 3 years. This particular bottle was enjoyed alongside a 2012 vintage, now called Sucaba, and there was a noticeable difference in how the beer wasn't as thoroughly blended and still had some of the flavors struggling for the spotlight. Personally, I think the 3 year mark is where this beer sits extremely well and makes you wonder if you should open the rest of the bottles now, or roll the dice with another six months to a year.


Our CELLARED series aims to explore the world of aging beer and sharing the effects of time in the bottle. Bottles have been kept away from light and at temperatures between 44-60 degrees. Individual experiences may vary depending on storage environments.

Posted on February 28, 2014 .