Skip to main content
08-20-00

DuClaw Hell on Wood Beer Review

I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for barrel aged barleywines. I seriously love them. A local brewery that doesn’t get enough praise is DuClaw Brewing Company. They make some wonderful beer and when I saw Hell on Wood, I grabbed a few bottles. The bottle says that it is a barleywine style ale that is aged in bourbon barrels. It also rocks in at 10.6% ABV. A true sipper.

Hell on Wood pours a nice reddish brown color with a slight haze. ┬áThe head is light tan and thin, but doesn’t fade quickly. The nose is wonderful and full. It starts with a deep, dark, almost burnt caramel aroma. The caramel is surrounded by some “traditional sweetness” that really rounds out the malt character. A good helping of bourbon, oak, and vanilla follow though. I didn’t much if any hops which is generally how I like my barleywines.

Hell on WoodThe taste generally follows the nose. It begins with some strong caramel notes. Bourbon hits next. It’s a clean and spicy bourbon that cuts through the sweetness of the malt. A really solid, but not overpowering, oak flavor comes in next and really adds a great layer of complexity and depth. There is some heat towards the end of the taste. Surprisingly, it’s a balanced heat if there is such a thing, and it makes for a great flavor note. Hell on Wood finishes with a nice earthy/piney hop flavor that adds a touch of bitterness.

This beer stays a lightly sweet throughout but it’s enjoyable and still close to a perfect balance. It drinks thick and chewy; like I said, a sipper. I rather enjoyed this barleywine. It has a great combination of flavor, complexity, and aromas that make a barleywine an enjoyable drinking experience.

07-14-02

Beer Review #300 Bourbon Barrel Dark Ale

07-14-02For this site’s 300th beer review, I figured that I should post about a special beer. It also so happens that today’s review covers one of my favorite local breweries, Evolution Craft Brewing Company. They make some fantastic beer that is always fresh and hits the spot. Bourbon Barrel Dark Ale is part of their Migration Series of beer, which are seasonal and always barrel aged. My bottle happened to be #795 of 1400 bottles produced. This winter 2012 edition has the following to say on the label, “a dark ale aged eight months in oak bourbon barrels.” It also comes in at 10.5%. This might not be a summer beer style but good is good anytime of the year.

This beer pours a dark black with a tan head that quickly fades. It is too dark to see if it is clear or not, even when tipped and held up to the light. The nose has a light bourbon aroma that provides a bit of heat and warmth. A good helping of roasted malt and dark chocolate are being the bourbon and really provide some great malt notes. I got just a hint of oak, but not as much as I was expecting for a beer aged for eight months.

Roasted malt and dark chocolate come threw first on the first taste. And as a bourbon barrel aged beer should, this beer has kick of bourbon and oak. The bourbon is very mild and really blends well with the malt. The oak smooths out the flavor and helps blend everything together nicely. There is a slight hop bitterness at the end but nothing that is overly complex or strong. This one drinks creamy and thick. A true sipper.

I really dug this one. It is one of the smoothest and most balanced bourbon aged beers that I have ever had. The bourbon isn’t crazy intense on this beer, but adds a good amount of complexity and depth to a already great beer. I really wish there were more than 1400 bottles of this produced and I will be keeping an eye out for when the 2013 version comes out. (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 #255 KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)

12-26-03I have one of those “mystical” craft beers for today’s review. It is a hard beer to get and is highly regraded my many in the industry. Founders Brewing Company made a massive imperial stout (11.2% ABV) and then aged it oak bourbon barrels for a year before bottling this bad boy. The amount of time and effort that goes into making a beer like this is impressive. Finding one to actually try is equally as impressive. A special thanks to my buddy Mike who got this beer for me.

KBS pours a jet black color and has a tan head that quickly fades into the inky liquid below. The nose is packed with lots of chocolate and a bit of roast. There is bourbon present, but it’s not a crazy amount of bourbon like Victory’s Dark Intrigue. I didn’t get any hops on this one which was a slight surprise as it comes in at 70 IBUs.

On the first taste I got blown away by the amount of dark chocolate flavors being thrown at my mouth. There is a good amount of bitter baker’s chocolate followed by a slight roast on the end. There is some bourbon flavor, but it is rather muted and adds a nice depth of flavor to the beer. As the beer warms up the heat comes out more, but it is by no means a negative in the beer. All of the flavors really sing together and meld in the most wonderful of ways.

As expected for an imperial stout, this beer is very thick and creamy in the mouth. It’s a wonderful sipping beer that you can enjoy for long stretches. This beer is strong, bold, and balanced. I can really see why this beer is so loved and I will buy it at any chance that I have to get it. (more…)

Beer Review #179 Dark Intrigue

It is time for the long awaited Dark Intrigue beer review. If you remember I had to wait in line for three hours in order to secure a few bottles of this beer. More on that in a coming post. Dark Intrigue is brewed by Victory Brewing Company of Downingtown, PA and is a bourbon barrel aged version of Storm King Stout (which is wonderful). This is the second, and reportedly, last batch that they will ever do of this beer do to its intense space requirements. Somehow I think we will see this beer again at some point in the not too distant future.

The bottle reads, “malt beverage aged in bourbon barrels,” and it has a recommendation of aging for up to five years as well. Clearly I didn’t give it much time to age at all. Dark Intrigue pours a chocolaty black color and has a deep, dark tan head. The nose is decidedly bourbon with some heat mixed in. There are some bits of roasted malt as well. I didn’t get any hops as I think they were wiped out by the bourbon.

On my first taste I was greeted with a rich and complex mix of flavors. To begin with there is chocolate and roasted flavors up front. The malt tastes are then pushed out by lots of bourbon and heat. There is some slight vanilla in there as well. While I didn’t get any hops in the nose, they are there in the taste, but only just enough to balance out the malt a bit. They did provide a nice spiciness that brings a much needed break from malt, bourbon, and heat. This beer is very thick and creamy and improves as it warms.

Victory really came up with a very complex beer here. It is a big high in the heat department but I imagine that aging this beer for a period long than what I did would eliminate those flavors. I really wish that I had another few bottles to put away to see how the beer changes over time. If you were one of the lucky few to get this beer, enjoy it while you have it, you are in for a treat. (more…)