Name of Beer: 2015 Bourbon Barrel Quad
Style of Beer: Bourbon Barrel Aged Ale With Cherries
Brewery: Boulevard Brewing Company
Brewery Location: Kansas City, Missouri
Can / Bottle / Draught: Bottle – 750ml
% Of Alcohol: 11.8%
From The Bottle: Based loosely on the Smokestack Series’ The Sixth Glass, this abbey-style quadrupel is separated into a number of oak bourbon barrels where it ages for varying lengths of time, some for up to three years. Cherries are added to make up for the “angel's share” of beer lost during barrel aging. Selected barrels are then blended for optimum flavor. The resulting beer retains only very subtle cherry characteristics, with toffee and vanilla notes coming to the fore.
Hops Used: Magnum, Styrian Golding
Color: Dark Amber with a fine hint of crimson
Head: Light but persistent and consistent through the entire bottle
Aroma: Strong sour aroma with few other scents noted.
Comments: As I was standing in the beer aisle of my local LCBO looking at this $15.00 bottle of beer I was weighing the pros and cons of adding it to my shopping basket. Spending $15.00 on a bottle of beer seemed ludicrous to me. But then again it was a big bottle (the same size as a bottle of wine) and boasted a hefty ABV of 11.8%. I’ve paid more than $15.00 for a bottle of wine, so why not for a bottle of beer? Justification reached, bottle purchased.
Overall this is a well presented beer, but it falls a little short of meeting my expectations. The bottle is beautifully presented and as John Lopes said in a previous article, he respects a beer with a cork and cage closure.
My first observation was the colour of the beer. It was cloudy and almost gave the appearance of a dark mulled cider with a reddish hue.
The aroma was quite strong and I had a difficult time picking out too many individual scents. The sour scent of (what I can only think to be) cherry was a little overpowering and I wasn’t able to pick up other notes like the bourbon, vanilla or oak. This struck me as odd considering ‘bourbon’ is in the name of the beer.
My first tastes met with a similar outcome. The carbonation was lively and seemed to overpower the mouth. The first sips were dry and I expected that this would evolve as my palette adapted but it didn’t. After a moment the flavours seems to emerge but they were all very sharp. This stayed consistent over the hour that it took me to finish the bottle.
The overall tasting experience proved to be rather unrefined and I was left a little disappointed with the experience. I think that this beer has promise but could have used some additional refinements. Barrel aged beers are becoming more popular and I think that a lot of brewers are still feeling their way through the aging process. Another point to note is that this beer had an expiry date on the label of September 30th, 2017. I wonder if this beer wasn’t rushed to market to take advantage of a longer shelf period. I suspect that a bottle sampled in August will yield a far different and smoother experience.
Perhaps I’m a glutton for punishment, but I might just grab another bottle and allow it to mellow over the next couple of months. Maybe I’m holding out too much hope, but I’m willing to give this beer another shot.