Oaken Barrel did quite well for themselves at the Indiana State Fair Brewers Cup held earlier this year. They won 7 awards, including a Best of Show for their Pumpkin Ale, and the Brewers of Indiana Guild Champion Brewery.
It wasn't long ago that the following message showed up in our mailbox:
We are having a dinner with award winning beers and our brewers who won the Brewery of the Year. We’ll have “the best of show” Pumpkin Ale, Java Stout, Munich Helles, Oatmeal Stout, Uberweizen, Kolsch, and Uncle Jack’s Barrel Stout. Beers will be available in pints only, and only in the Brewhouse. When these beers are gone, they are gone until we brew again next year. Please come join us, and share the story of how we won the Brewery of the Year at State Fair Competition.In the quest to provide the best Indiana beer news available, we decided to investigate.
Since coming aboard at Oaken Barrel, Brewers Mark Havens and Andrew Castner have really done a spectacular job with the beer, expanding the lineup and experimenting with new styles and flavors. Of the award winning beers available, we selected three to review: Java Stout, Jack Barrel Stout, and Pumpkin Ale.
Oaken Barrel Pumpkin Ale - A nice blend of pumpkin spice, nutmeg, and coriander in the nose and a taste that stands up equally well. I wonder how this would have done in our pumpkin beer showdown. I think it would have done very well! 3.8 Mugs
Oaken Barrel Pumpkin Ale
Gina: 3.8 Mugs | Matt: 3.75 Mugs | Mike: 3.55 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 3.55 Mugs
Oaken Barrel Java Stout - The first thing you notice is the very strong coffee nose on this beer, and I'm not talking freeze dried Taster's Choice. I'm talking serious gourmet shit. Aside from my Pulp Fiction reference, the nose is a heavy mix of coffee, espresso, and a touch of licorice. The flavor profile didn't quite match up to the nose, but had the same flavors on the palate, but just more muted than the nose with the classic roasted grain flavors of a stout combined with bitter coffee notes. The mouthfeel was very nice and matched their best beer, Snake Pit Porter, and I would have happily had another one of these beers. This was a very tasty beer if you like coffee. 4.1 Mugs
Oaken Barrel Java Stout
Matt: 4.1 Mugs | Mike: 3.65 Mugs | Gina: 4.0 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 3.91 Mugs
Oaken Barrel Uncle Jack's Barrel Stout - I think there's a trick to making a bourbon barrel stout; a lack of bourbon flavor can only lead your audience to disappointment. But I'm an equal opportunity drinker, and I try to not to put too much stock into a beer's name. OB's Jack's Barrel stout looks exactly like their Java Stout, with an opaque black color that poured dead and headless. The nose hinted at dark chocolate and malt. I didn't find any bourbon. The front was all Hershey's Syrup and milk, and the flavor followed through to a chocolate milk shake finish. As the beer warmed the bourbon finally came out, though I'd say that it was a minor flavor in the mix. My only complaint with the beer is that I'd like a little more life and mouthfeel, but considering that Oaken Barrel had been sitting on this a while, I think those tiny flaws are excusable. 4.17 Mugs
Oaken Barrel Uncle Jack's Barrel Stout
Mike: 4.17 Mugs | Gina: 3.9 Mugs | Matt: 3.25 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 3.77 Mugs