If you ask a brewer how long to age a beer that was already aged in a bourbon barrel, they would simply say, "Now." The beer already has time on it and during that time it has acquired additional flavors and subtleties. American barley wines are so hopped and so alcoholic, that even after time in a barrel they seem to do just well for several additional years. This beer has 3 years on it from the point of bottling and 1 additional year from mellowing in a barrel.

The carbonation has held up enough to give this beer some life. There is a thin ring of head that traces the edge of the beer against the glass. The halo of bubbles sits atop a burgundy colored body that is clear enough to display some bottle sediment. It's not a lot, but enough to warrant a low visibility caution for driving conditions.

The smell is sticky and boozy. The malts and heat of this beer seem that they haven't let up one bit. There is a bit of caramel, burnt toffee, dark fruits, oak, brown sugar, and bourbon. The sweetness and sugars totally outweigh any sort of bitterness that might be present.

Moving from back to front on this one, the first surprise was the hoppy back end to the taste. The forefront of the flavor is all of the rich malt sweetness that you get on the nose, but after that passes, it is all bitterness and hops on out. The bourbon and oak actually claim the peak of the taste. Right after the caramel, butterscotch, and fruit pass, the bourbon and oak step in to change the tide to the resiny hop bitterness. It's a very defined turn in the flavor. Instead of blending and mellowing the flavors together, the age on this beer has almost separated this beer into night and day.

Even though the alcohol is detectable, especially in the nose, it isn't overly demanding in the flavor and it's not as strong on the palate as was expected. It's sticky, and medium to full bodied, and quite smooth.


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 July 3, 2014 .