Skip to main content

Beer Review #278 Rum Barrel Golden Ale

03-26-03Evolution Craft Brewing Company of Salisbury, MD is undergoing a lot of change. I remember when they started in Delar, DE/MD as a small brewery, but now they are quickly expanding. They always seem to have something new out and their distribution is growing slowly. It’s been really interesting to watch a brewery start from nothing and grow at the rate that Evolution has. As part of that growth, they have gotten into barrel aged beers under the name Migration Series. With the brewery located in the eastern shore of Maryland, geese are a staple of the area, and the series name/logo work perfectly.

Rum Barrel Golden ale comes in at a rocking 10.5% ABV. According to the bottle, I have bottle number 754 of 1200 bottles produced for this particular beer. The bottle says, “ale aged in oak rum barrels,” which isn’t a surprise given its name. This beer was also released last year, but I just got around to opening it up now. It pours a dark golden to orange color. It has a thin off-white head and is super hazy. There is a nice yeast cake at the bottle of the bottle once you muster the courage to drink enough of a 10.5% beer to get there.

03-26-04

The nose has a good rum smell with some spiced rum odors mixed in there. It is very sweet on the nose and there isn’t a drop of hops to be found. I was half expecting a more complex nose, but it is not surprising that rum and spiced rum aromas dominate. On the first taste I got a nice mix of rum flavor and sweetness. This beer is super sweet and there isn’t much that dries it out. The spiciness that I noticed in the nose comes in at the end of the beer to clean it up a bit. A good amount of oak flavor mixes through the beer with hints of vanilla and wood resins.

This is an interesting beer. There is a lot going on and the oak flavors that mix into the beer are exactly what barrel aging should be about. The oak compliments the beer, but it is not the star or overdone. I just wish this one dried out more than it did. It stays really sweet and it made getting through the 750 ml bottle a bit more of a challenge than I would have liked. Overall this is a good beer and with a few tweaks I think it could be a real winner. (more…)

Beer Review #275 Oak Horizontal

03-01-01 I make no secret of my love for Victory Brewing Company. There are a number of outstanding breweries around the Philadelphia area, but I think that I would be most upset if Victory were to close down. Luckily, that doesn’t look to be in the cards as they are adding a second brewery. Oak Horizontal is another beer in their barrel aging series (not an official name). The bottle says a “malt beverage aged in bourbon barrels.” And this bad boy rocks in at 10.5%. Old Horizontal is Victory’s barleywine and this is a barrel aged version of it.

Oak Horizontal (I love the word play) pours a nice caramel brown color. It has an off-white head and is slightly hazy. The nose has a nice bourbon note, though not overpowering, along with some nice bits of vanilla. The maltiness of this beer is apparent in the nose but there are no hops to speak of. I’m not sure if they are washed out by the bourbon or if the additional aging knocked them out of the aroma spectrum.

This beer begins surprisingly with a light malt flavor. I was expecting big bold malt, but not so. There are bits of caramel and toffee mixed in but not to the same extent as the non-barrel aged version of this beer. The light malt folds into a bourbon malt flavor. The bourbon is very smooth and enjoyable. An aged hops flavor can be tasted on the back-end with some slight spiciness.

Victory produced a wonderfully smooth barrel aged beer with Oak Horizontal. It is very drinkable and bourbon and barleywine go perfectly together. This is a perfect cigar beer and a sipper. I drank this over the course of two hours and enjoyed every bit of it. The $15 price tag was a bit high, but it did live up to my expectations. (more…)

Beer Review #268 Red Thunder

02-04-02 I have yet another barrel aged beer for review today. I only noticed today how many barrel aged beers that I have had in the past month or so. I still have a few more to review, but I’ll hold them off for some time. Today’s beer comes from my original favorite craft brewery, Victory Brewing Company. If for some reason all craft breweries were going to close and I could save one of them, it would be Victory. I’ve had one of their barrel aged beers before (and I have another in the fridge) but this is the first of their beers to be aged on red wine barrels.

Red Thunder is the same base beer as their Baltic Thunder, but aged in wine barrels. It comes in at 8.5%. Red Thunder pours a flat redish brown color. It has a thin off-white head that fades to just a layer on the top. The nose has a wine, tart smell. It was a “big beer” character to the smell. It isn’t overly malty in aroma and there isn’t any heat, but you can get the sense that this is a big beer.

On the first taste I got a slight sourness. I believe that the tart flavor is thanks to the wine barrel aging. As the tartness quickly faded away I was greeted by my old friend, Baltic Thunder. Red Thunder has a lot of porter qualities to it. The malty flavor gives way to some really nice roasty, chocolatey notes. The wine barrel aging really complimented this beer and added a nice twist.

I like this one and it makes me want to experiment with wine barrel aging on my own homebrews. There is a very nice mix of wine flavor and baltic porter. It’s not my favorite barrel aged beer in the world, but it does give me a few ideas for the future. Special thanks to my buddy Mike for sharing this one with me. (more…)

Beer Review #267 Rye on Rye

02-02-03As the cold weather settles in again my body craves big beers. Boulevard Brewing Company promised to fill my cravings. Rye on Rye is part of their Smokestack Series and it comes in at an impressive 12% ABV. The bottle says that it is “33% ale, 67% ale aged in rye whiskey barrels.” I’m always wary of whiskey barrel aged beers as they can be hit or miss. The hits are usually good but the misses are pretty bad. The bottle label also says that there were only 4,123 cases of this beer produced.

Rye on Rye pours orangish brown and is slightly cloudy. It comes with a solid, slightly off-white head. The nose is packed with whiskey odors. There is also some spicy hop aromas mixed with tobacco. I didn’t notice a drop of heat (unless you count whiskey) which shocked the hell out of me.¬†Usually these types of beers are drenched in heat.

On the first taste I got a really nice sweet malt flavor that quickly transitioned into a nice whiskey. There are notes of tobacco to be found in there as well. There were not really any hops to make note of but the spiciness of the whiskey and rye malt combination came through on the end. One thing I love about this beer is that it warmed on the whole way down. The warming feeling was gentle and slowly increased in perceived intensity.

This beer currently takes the cake for being my favorite whiskey barrel aged beer. It is super smooth and balanced in every way. While the whiskey is noticeable, it highlights the other flavors. For a strong beer, it doesn’t present any upfront heat. My wife, who usually hates this style of beer, fell in love with it as well. This is one of the more outstanding beers that I have had in a long time. If you are lucky enough to get one of these, treasure it. I loved it and I hope that I can find another bottle soon. (more…)

Homebrew updates

I haven’t posted about homebrewing in a little while and I just wanted to give some updates. So far this year I have brewed 15 batches of beer for a total of 75 gallons. It’s crazy to think that I still have¬† 125 gallons to go in order to meet my state allowed maximum. I’m still drinking some of the beer that I brewed during the summer. I have a Belgian IPA on tap right now along with my Pumpkin Ale. I’ll get a recipe up for my Belgian IPA shortly.

The pumpkin is pretty good and it is received some rave review from my friends. I want to dial back the spices a bit and give it a touch more body. I’ll probably end up rebrewing this one before the fall is over with a different yeast that doesn’t attenuate as well so that it can have a bit more body. The Belgian IPA is good, but not great. It is suffering from sitting in the keg too long. IPAs need to be drank quickly and this one sat in a keg for a month and a half. The hop freshness is wearing off and is nothing compared to what it was when it was fresher.

I recently brewed a third version of an IPA I have been working on. I changed up the yeast and the hops, but everything else is the same. I have magnum as the bittering hop and two additions of citra. The yeast change was more out of me being cheap than anything as the IPA was pitched on a yeast cake. I recently kegged, what I am calling, an American Bitter. It uses American malt and hops, but a bitter grain bill profile and an English yeast. It came in at about 4% and initial tasting has this one being drinkable in decent amounts. I’ll get a recipe up on here once I’ve had a chance to really test it out and make sure it meets my internal standards.

On the equipment front I bought 2 new kegs from Keg Connection. With shipping they came in at $78, you really can’t beat that. I also scored a deal from Northern Brewer for buy one get one Better Bottles. That brings me up to 4 Better Bottles and one glass carboy. I’m hoping to do a number of lagers this winter once the basement cools down and I should have no problem filling all of the carboys up. I haven’t ordered much in way of ingredients recently but I did get a bag of grain at the beginning of October from Midwest Supplies for $32. I had a coupon that took away shipping and then some. I can’t get grain for less than $45-$50 around my house so this was a good deal.

I have plenty of ideas that I want to try out in the coming months. I’ve also had the hankering to do a sour beer as well as a barrel aged beer since I just found out they sell used 5 gallon whiskey barrels. I’m going to hold off on the sour beer idea until it warms up and the barrel is a temporary dream. What I really want, and have wanted for awhile, is a fermentation chamber. I would love to make one myself and have it be able to hold two Better Bottles and two kegs. Time and budget will see if that idea comes to fruition. I’m going to start posting more homebrew updates as it’s an area of the site that I have really been slacking on. I generally try to post every even day, and I’m thinking that every third even day will be devoted to homebrew. Anyone else up to anything in the homebrew world?