2005 bottle, 2007 release, brought out of the cellar. The brandy version held up quite well. While not quite as awesome as the newer bourbon release, it beat the same vintage bourbon edition head to head. Low carbonation the only drawback, and maybe the aroma had faded a touch, but the flavor was exuisite! Plums, caramel, toffee, brown sugar and ample brandy. Goes down smooth and warm.
This was a dynamite beer, aged a couple of years (dated 2005 on the bottle). The beer is a dark brown pour, thick, no head, almost no carbonation. Aroma is alcoholic and sweet. Candy sugar, molasses, and wood are also present. The beer is smooth to the tongue with a plethora of fruit flavours (plums, raisins) and alcohol. I enjoyed it immensely.
This Barley Wine pours a murky dark reddish brown color from a corked 375 ml bottle. Small sized white foamy head, that disappears very quickly. The aroma is caramel, dark fruit, raisins, hints of oak and sherry. A medium to full bodied Barley Wine. The malts are caramel, dark fruity and sweet. The hops are earthy. Lots of fruit, oak, and brandy/sherry flavors. Nice balance. Very smooth tasting. Mild carbonation. Hides the 14.5% alcohol very well. Some chocolate and toffee flavors emerge as it warms. Nice beer. There are lots of flavors mixing going on around here. I would prefer a little more carbonation. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is slightly sweet.
Bottle shared by slob. Pour was brown in color, some amber-burgundy edges. The head was pretty small, thinning to nothing.The aroma was rice/tapioca (very sake like), maple, dark malts. The flavor followed suit, dark fruity notes (brandy comes out more than the sake notes I had before), molasses. Over-run by alcohol and hard liquor, fun indeed, yet just not a beer in so many ways. Mouthfeel kinda flat and sticky. Bert, always a pleasure, always fun, but this had some issues, unless you're looking for a hard liquor with a little bit of beer. Number 13 at the time of consumption, are you kidding me? #13? What? Thanks much, my friend!
A careful pour produces a frothy, fairly large bubbled, dirty, light amber tinged, tan colored head that dissipates fairly quickly. The beer is a concentrated, rich amber color, but shows a brilliantly clear, bright red, cranberry color when held up to the light. As I pour this beer ample notes of buttery oak greet my scent receptors. Upon closer inspection it is confirmed that the oak plays a major role here; ample butter oak notes dominate, but aromas of vanillin, deeply caramelized wood & malt, intermingling though somewhat subtle fruit and berry notes, as well as lightly spicy oak towards the end. Wow, the aroma is really growing on me; at first I was disappointed that it was so barrel influenced, but the particular barrel influence here is so smooth and enjoyable. The base beer definitely plays a supporting role here in the aroma (really contributing to the substantial caramelized notes), but this is the most fantastic smelling, barrel dominated beer I have ever experienced; I cold go on smelling the beer for quite some time.
Chewy, substantial, but not overly viscous, for a beer of 14.7% alcohol this is down right light in body. A carbonic bite yields to a substantial fruity caramel not, which then moves to a spicy, clearly barrel influenced shot of Brandy character in the finish. Sweet flavors are here, but not in a sticky manner, in fact this is even a bit dry. Up front flavors of caramelized raisins and berry notes mix very well with oak components of butterscotch and vanillin. The finish is definitely quite warming in character (warm hues radiate down my throat after each sip), but not overly hot or aggressive. Brandied grape notes are definitely quite noticeable at times, but seem to mix / meld into the caramel / toffee and butterscotch notes pretty well. The hop character, that is so scathing in fresh samples of the normal Old Stock, plays a surprising mellow role here. The hops contribute a soft bitterness in the finish that is barely noticeable under the alcohol and barrel flavors, while the normally pungent hop flavor is all but a part of a movie extra here; hints of citrus, and a touch of pine is about it. This still has that leathery, substantial malt depth that I love in the original, in fact it is this malt character that really allows the Brandy barrel to really shine here.
The mix of caramelized malt / wood notes and butterscotch oak character in the nose is incredible. The barrel influence here is huge, but amazingly it marries extremely well with the base beer, or at the least it is not a harsh, overwhelming barrel character. Visually this beer was a bit disappointing with the quickly disappearing head, but when you take into account the alcohol percentage the head was actually quite substantial. I really like that the body of this brew is not overly thick, though this is most definitely a sipping brew; it could use / stand up to a bit more residual malt character though. This really is such a great, flavorful beer, but in the end it is the lack of extra malty oomph that keeps this from being the perfect marriage between barrel and malt. Still a fantastic brew, but at times it can even be a bit thin when compared to the ample brandy barrel notes. Don't get me wrong though, this is a fantastically tasty brew. The fact that the flavors from the barrel are so well integrated and somehow not overwhelming despite being dominant really makes this an incredibly enjoyable brew (pick up the base beer flavors a bit and this would be perfect).
This was the show-stopper of Christmas Eve. The one beer that every beer drinker who was imbibing that night stopped to have some. I explained to them a bit about the beer, so their tastebuds were ready and waiting. I pulled the cage off and the bottle let out a soft pfffsssshhh, with some white gas escaping. My first thoughts on smelling the bottle was raisins. Mashed and pureed raisins. I poured out everyone share and began to inhale. Vanilla, raisins, cherries, old leather, oak and some tobacco. WOW. Appearance is dark brown, murky, with a light tan head. Mouthfeel is full, round, warm and inviting. Flavors are an incredible complexity meshing of figs, molasses, vanilla, brandy, alcohol, Guittard chocolate, and toasted marshmallows. I absolutely loved this beer and wish it was made in quantities so that every beer geek could try it. Kudos to North Coast. They made a great beer in the BA Old Raspy and they've done it again with this one.
A dark copper appearance with a beige head. The aroma contains some alcohol, cherries, raisins, and vanilla. The flavor contains some dark fruits like raisins and dates. I also taste some coconut, figs, cherries, and molasses. The brandy is present but not overwhelming. The finish is warming with the alcohol coming through. This one wasn’t too hot or sweet. A very well balanced beer. For the time being I believe this is my new favorite beer!
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