01 June 2009

KOTBR #73: Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers

In hopes of scoring big before the Kentucky Derby, amateur VooDoo priest (and Knight of the Beer Roundtable) Jason tried to read chicken bones in hopes of discovering which horse would win the race. The chicken bones, however, were leftover from a KFC bucket. So he unintentionally called upon the spirits of Kentucky Colonels (both living and dead) and the spirits inhabited the bodies of those around him. Coincidentally, those around him were drinking Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers.

Thus the reason why the reviews below were written not by the Knights themselves, but instead by those who have been honored as Kentucky Colonels. And let this be a lesson to the rest of you: VooDoo, Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers, Fried Chicken, and gambling addictions can be a dangerous combination. Do not try this at home.

Rodney was the first one to channel a KY Colonel spirit. Actually, he channeled a rerun of a TV broadcast hosted by a KY Colonel (probably because, much like the host, women frequently come running up to Rod, kiss him, and then reach into his pocket hoping for money). On the show, they were reviewing Barley Island's Beastie Barrel Stout and Porter...

Bob Barker: Welcome back! We have Henry and Amanda here ready to bid on our two fabulous showcases. Henry, you were able to land on exactly one dollar in our Showcase Showdown, so you'll be the first contestant to bid on the showcase. Or you can always pass the first showcase to Amanda, for Amanda to bid on and take whatever is in our second showcase. The choice is yours. Henry, imagine yourself in front of a nice fireplace in a cabin, sipping on BARLEY ISLAND'S BEASTIE BARREL STOUT! (applause) This barrel-aged stout will have characteristic aromas of chocolate, vanilla, oak, maple and of course bourbon. A bit of sweet milk will bring to mind a milk stout. The bourbon notes shy away more than you would expect and bring forward flavors vanilla bean, honey and chocolate milk. A nice, sessionable stout, especially if you're not wild about bourbon. So what will it be, Henry?

Henry: I think I'll pass this one to Amanda

Amanda: It sounds good, but not mind-blowing good. I'm just so excited to be here. I'm going to give it 3.25 mugs.

BB: 3.25 mugs, you say? Alright then. Henry, you passed on the Beastie Barrel Stout, so let's see what the second showcase is. It's BARLEY ISLAND'S BEASTIE BARREL PORTER! (applause) Strong aromas of sweet bourbon accompanied by vanilla and apple notes round out a slightly fruity introduction. Not as milky as the Stout, flavors of creamy chocolate, caramel and the sweetness of white grape juice create a slightly different presentation of the bourbon-aged category. So Henry, how many mugs would you give the Beastie Barrel Porter?

Henry: That's the same thing!

Bob Barker: No it's not Henry, it's a Porter. This one is sort of fruity, the last one was sort of milky.

Henry: Fine, 3.3 mugs

Bob Barker: Alright so Amanda, you're going with 3.25 mugs and Henry you're going with 3.3 mugs. Too bad this is all subjective and there is no right answer. You both win! (applause) Thanks for tuning in folks, and remember to spay and neuter your pets.

BI Beastie Barrel Stout no longer in production
Gina 3.0 Mugs Chris 3.1 Mugs Rod 3.25 Mugs Jess 2.7 Mugs Jason 3.2 Mugs Mike 3.3 Mugs
KOTBR Score - 3.09 Mugs

BI Beastie Barrel Porter 11.00/4 pack at Kahn's
Gina 3.19 Mugs Chris 3.7 Mugs Rod 3.3 Mugs Jess 3.55 Mugs Jason 4.0 Mugs Mike 3.42 Mugs
KOTBR Score - 3.52 Mugs

As a young girl growing up in Oklahoma, Gina spent most of her days as a yodeling cowgirl, herding kittens on her father's ranch. Unfortunately, the ranch went belly up and they had to relocate to Illinois. But this would explain why Will Rogers' spirit selected Gina as his conduit as he reviewed Bluegrass Brewing Company's Jefferson Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout

You know, I never yet met a bourbon barrel stout that I didn't like. I've enjoyed this beer in the past, so I thought this one would be a no-brainer. And, although it was decent, it just didn't stand up to the other bourbon beers of the evening. It seemed to take on more of a roasted, burnt character and the bourbon notes disappeared quickly, something I don't remember happening with this beer in previous tries.Well, I guess they can't all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and applaud when they go by. 3.0 Mugs

BBC Jefferson Reserve (bottle) 11.99/4 pack at Kahn's
Gina 3.0 Mugs Chris 3.2 Mugs Rod 3.2 Mugs Jess 4.1 Mugs Jason 3.5 Mugs Mike 3.2 Mugs
KOTBR Score - 3.37 Mugs

Next, Jason brings in the spirit of racing great Mario Andretti. And what beer does Mario talk about? The Imperial Stout Bourbon Barrel from America's Brewing Company at Walter Payton Roundhouse. Yeah, say that 10 times fast.

Not many people realize the connection between "Sweetness" and auto racing. But Walter used to be a co-owner of an Indy Car racing team.

Seriously, that's the closest connection that the so-called "VooDoo Priest" could come up with between Water Payton and Kentucky Colonels. How lame is that?

Anyway...about the beer. It's nice.

You want more? FINE. There is a promising bourbon nose. The mouthfeel is really light. It makes me think of butter for some reason. Not butterscotch, but butter. And there is plenty of bourbon flavor present as well.

You want more still? Too bad. That's all I've got. I'm slowing down...

ABC/WP Roundhouse Imp Stout Bourbon Barrel Aged around $24/4 pack
Gina 3.4 Mugs Chris 3.336 Mugs Rod 3.7 Mugs Jess 3.8 Mugs Jason 3.6 Mugs Mike 3.58 Mugs
KOTBR Score - 3.57 Mugs

Mike, loving all things St. Louis, ofter talks about "St. Louis Blues great" Wayne Gretzky, even though he only played a half a season there. Anyway, Mike pulls in the audio feed from a press conference that Gretzky was holding. What was he talking about at the press conference? Why, New Glarus Bourbon Barrel Bock, of course!

(Wayne steps to the podium) Hello everyone, and thanks for being here. It's great to be here today to accept this award - you know, I've never been to Kentucky before. Not once. But today, I consider myself the luckiest Hoosier in all the state. What's that? Oh, that's Indiana. Sorry... I've had a few. No, that's not my normal behaviour... have you had this? It's a... what is this? It's a New Glarus Bourbon Barrel Bock - Hey! Bourbon! That's from here, right? You should make bourbon a colonel... This is some beer. It's a beer, right? Taste like an orange... You know, Janet and I had a wine called a barleywine once at a friend's house. This is kinda like that. Nice and sweet, oaky, a little vanilla, a little warming, you know? I grew up in Canada, we can use a beer like this. Anyway... where was I? Oh yeah.. Today, I consider myself the luckiest.. well what are you here, anyway? I consider myself lucky. Thank you. 4.7 Mugs

New Glarus Bourbon Barrel Bock around $10/4 pack
Gina 4.18 Mugs Chris 4.3 Mugs Rod 4.0 Mugs Jess 4.6 Mugs Jason 4.2 Mugs Mike 4.7 Mugs
KOTBR Score - 4.33 Mugs

Not many people know this, but Chris is the drummer of the HBG house band. His musical talent must have been the reason why Stephen Foster used him to debut his new song Oh! Bourbon Barrel (which is like Oh! Susanna, but not), an ode to Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout

I come from Illinois, with a hint of cherry in me
I'm coming to Indiana, my true love for to see
They mashed me with grains and cooked for an hour
then left me in a barrel
Loads of choc'lat, slight alcohol burns
but don't you get in a quarrel.
Oh, Bourbon Barrel, don't you cry for me,
I come from Illinois,with a hint of cherry in me.

GI Bourbon Co. Stout 18.99/4 pack at Kahn's
Gina 4.5 Mugs Chris 5.0 Mugs Rod 4.7 Mugs Jess 4.8 Mugs Jason 4.71 Mugs Mike 3.8 Mugs
KOTBR Score - 4.59 Mugs

Jess is known as the wife of Rod, who for some reason is the "sexy one" at Hoosier Beer Geek. While all the women (and some of the men) swoon for him, Jess secretly longs for someone else. Someone who is not only a lover but a fighter. Which is why she was thrilled to have Muhammad Ali come into her. Wait, that's not how I meant it...

Anyway, here is the greatest with his thoughts on Brooklyn Brewery's Black Ops

Brooklyn Brewery claims that this beer never existed by the label, much like my fighting style - Your hands can't hit what your eyes can't see. This dark and stormy brew is a killa... and a chilla... and a thrilla...and reminds me of a gorilla from Manila. The nose floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee with hints of dried tobacco, vanilla and big ol' Kentucky bourbon. Much like my hometown of Louisville the taste is dry like fine champagne and tastes like the big ugly bear that is chocolate. Much like my inspiring 1975 Thrilla in Manila fight, this beer is like death. Closest thing to dyin' that I know of and so I give it 4.75 mugs.

Brooklyn Black Ops around $13
Gina 4.75 Mugs Chris 4.5 Mugs Rod 4.3 Mugs Jess 4.75 Mugs Jason 3.6 Mugs Mike 3.8 Mugs
KOTBR Score - 4.28 Mugs

Leave it to Jason to screw things up. Not only did he start this whole VooDoo mess, he then destroyed the theme by channeling former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill to review an English beer aged on English whiskey barrels. What the hell, man? Well, he's here, so let's have it. Here is Churchill's view on Harviestoun’s Ola Dubh Special Reserve.

Not many people know that my mother was born in America . So I’ve always felt a strong connection to the United States . That’s why I’m proud to have been named the first honorary citizen of your country.

I’m even more proud of being named a Kentucky Colonel. The Commonwealth has made its name in horse racing, tobacco, and whisky. What’s not to love about this place? And the Kentucky Fried Chicken…all I can say is that is some chicken!

I was asked to speak about Bourbon Aged Beers and to be non-partisan when comparing them to Harviestoun’s Ola Dubh Special Reserve beers. And if I can’t, I should retire gracefully soon after.

Well Hoosier Beer Geek, I fight for my corner. And I leave when the pub closes.

I have not journeyed across the century, across the ocean, across the mountain, across the prairie, because I am some sort of candy ass who will do whatever you say! I will never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never.

So let me tell you: Harviestoun is a great brewery. And Highland Park is a great distillery. And putting that Ola Dubh/Black Oil into Highland Parks single malt scotch casks is a great achievement. Never in the field of alcoholic consumption was so much owed by so many to so few.

And they don’t just stop at one, but are offering three different version. The Ola Dubh Special 12 Reserve (11 ounce, $8.99 at Kahn’s) provides a black-to-dark brown ale with a tan head. It has a thin, creamy mouthfeel, which you wouldn’t expect looking at it. But this beverage has tastes of roasted malts, chocolate, and coffee with a nose to match. The Ola Dubh Special 16 Reserve (11 ounce, $9.99 at Kahn’s) is an improvement on the 12 by having a stronger alcohol bite. The earthiness of the single malt scotch really comes out in this version. And the Ola Dubh Special 30 Reserve (11 ounce, 15.99 at Kahn’s) is a smooth, mellow treat, as you would expect from a beer aged in 30 year old single malt casks.

I should be failing in my duty if I were not to convey the true impression, that a great nation is getting into its beer stride. We may say aloud before an awe-struck world, “We are still masters of whisky. We still are captain of beers.” Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if Harviestoun last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest beer.”

Harviestoun 12 8.99/bottle at Kahn's
Gina 3.4 Mugs Chris 3.3 Mugs Rod 3.7 Mugs Jess 3.2 Mugs Jason 3.65 Mugs Mike 3.41 Mugs
KOTBR Score - 3.44 Mugs

Harviestoun 16 9.99/bottle at Kahn's
Gina 3.1 Mugs Chris 3.4 Mugs Rod 4.1 Mugs Jess 3.6 Mugs Jason 4.05 Mugs Mike 3.31 Mugs
KOTBR Score - 3.59 Mugs

Harviestoun 30 15.99/bottle at Kahn's
Gina 3.1 Mugs Chris 3.1 Mugs Jason 3.6 Mugs Mike 3.32 Mugs
KOTBR Score - 3.28 Mugs

And that concludes this Twilight Zone-esque roundtable review. And let me tell you they are exhausting. I promise, no more chicken bone readings at roundtables.


  1. So does this mean that our next Indiana beer review will be done by channeling recipients of the Sagamore of the Wabash?

  2. Where you able to find the bottle of Black Ops in Indy?

  3. Skip GABF, come out for Extreme Beer Fest Night of the Barrels next year:


    Kentucky Breakfast Stout
    Bourbon Barrel Aged Chocolate Coffee Stout; 11.2%

    ^^ Man that was good.

  4. Brian,

    The bottle at my house came from Kahn's, I think... you've gotta watch the Random Beer Roundup! That way nothing sneaks past.

  5. I'll have to try some of these... Love the component parts but it is a blend I've so far found unappealing.

    (previously tried both of barley islands creations as well as the recent replicale @ the broad ripple brewpub)

  6. Mike's memory is correct: that bottle of Black Ops came from Kahns back winter-ish. I believe they only got a case, so I'm thinking the whole area just got a handful of cases.

  7. Indy got only 2 cases of Black Ops (North 31 Crown Liqours and Kahns).

    Bloomington on the other hand got like 5 or 6 cases between Sahara Mart and Big Ten. Go figure...

    World Class royally screwed up on that one. They even had the price wrong as Big Ten was selling them for $9 a bottle and Kahns/Crown/Sahara Mart were charging $15. Everybody else in the country was paying $20-25 for a bottle!

    I was lucky and picked up a bunch. Too bad the beer was a big let down...

    2 year old GI BCS is where it's out. Barrel Aged B.O.R.I.S. is very good as well. And of course Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout. Yummmmm.