I picked up a bomber of each of this winter’s Shoreline barrel-aged beers and convened a panel to taste them. (The picture at right is last year’s label, sorry). The beers are all barrel-aged for at least a year. All but the Seven Red were on Bourbon barrels.
- Sum Cens Double IPA (Summit and Centennial hops)
- Curse The Goat Dopplebock
- Discombobulation Celebration Ale (English Barley Wine)
- Big Bella Heavy Scotch Ale
- Lost Sailor Imperial Stout
- Red on Red – Seven Red Rye Ale aged in French Shiraz barrels
The Panel: Derrick Morris (Indiana Breweriana collector),
Chip Viering (“Collecting your emptys since 1978”),
Marv Keenan (Gambrinus Society homebrewer who makes every batch in wood),
Don St. Peters and Phil Hunter of the FBI and Indiana State Fair Brewers Cup
(but not really representing either, just drinkin beer and
makin notes and trying not to get all BJCP about it). The tastes: Sum Cens Double IPA (Summit and Centennial hops)
Floral and spice tones, just a touch of bourbon. Guessing 9-10% ABV. Big hop aroma but no hint of bourbon. Huge flavor, extremely find bubbles, thick body. Barleywine, pure and simple (so is DFH 120, dammit). Good color. Alcohol is large, sweet, hops good, one dimensional. Vanilla. Strong alcohol. Nose in style of Dbl IPA. Barleywine is a good description. Syrupy alcohol and wood nose. Monochromatic. Served in a 10oz glass at the bar (obviously). 3.2 stars (of 5).
Curse the Goat Dopplebock
Weak start. Subtle oakey aroma. Big flavor, mostly from bourbon barrel. Dark amber color possibly from barrel. Little resemblance to a dopplebock. Great color. Alcohol hidden very well. Great sweet nose. Warming. Lose the malt to the alcohol, bourbon? Oxidized finish. Nice bock flavor. Finishes with alcohol aftertaste but too heavy. Malt of the Scottish style. More married than Sum Cens and more straightforward. 2.2 stars Bottle info: “Aged in a 15 year old Bourbon barrel for at least one year.”
Discombobulation Celebration Ale
Malty. Aroma complex. Rich flavor, lots of barrel flavor. Good caramel color. Sweet malt nose. Malt cleaned. Very little hops. Sweet, alcohol hidden. Sweet finish. Little vanilla and chocolate on finish. Molasses nose. Not heavy on alcoholic taste. Very pleasant aftertaste with the molasses present at finish. I like. Vary mature and well married. These were all brewed in 2008 so they have well more than a year of maturity and this one shows it off best. 3.4 stars
Big Bella Heavy Scotch Ale
Nice big bourbon flavor, wonderful bourbon scent. Love it. Aroma of barrel. Darker than usual for Scotch Ale. Carbonation slight, about normal. Transparent. Malt flavor of the style allows dark barrel flavors to punch through. Ruby red color. Bourbon upfront. Whiskey permeates wood finish. Malty. Lots of barrel. Nice blend of Bourbon barrel aging and your favorite Scot Ale. No hint of alcohol. Still has interesting edges – like getting licked by a cat’s tongue. My favorite. 4.4 stars
Lost Sailor Imperial Stout
Fan-freakin-tastic. Wonderful rich color and flavor. Silk, velvet. Very little aroma, not of hops, nor alcohol, nor barrel. Not much hop flavor either, contrary to style. Big malt flavor and body. Oak barrel not especially noticeable. Motor oil black. Bourbon barrel comes through. Malt, alcohol, no hops. Smooth malt, vanilla, coffee, chocolate. No nose, didn’t get my attention. Alcohol present on back end. Heavy bourbon nose with aftertaste. Dark but small aroma. Whiskey & barrel, then dry & spicy. Lightish body. 3.4 stars
Seven Red on Red
Rye Ale aged in Shiraz French oak barrel. Lovely white head tops a perfect red color. Flavorful, festive, hoppy, fruity. Some acidity from the wine barrel aging. Finishes dry. Very fine celebration ale. Nice combination of wood and beer. Nice color. Nice spiceyness. Good Beer. More wood. Celebration Ale with a hit of spice for the holidays. Will warm you up on a cold December day. Malt flavor with a hint of chocolate. Acidic. Discussion goes to tannins which makes sense. Especially well received after the heavier Bourbon barreled beers. 4.4 stars
As happens, there were more bombers beers on the table, so we continued. Lafayette Brewing Star City Lager
Nice upfront, great lager flavor like Duquesne’s from the 70s. Touch sweet, nice carbonation, refreshing. Very delicate noble hop aroma, Light, refreshing, slight citrus flavor. More flavor, especially of hops, than typical lager. Musty nose. Clean light, little sweet malt, and good clean hops. Pilsner light. Straw nose, light lager that is clean in taste with a dry aftertaste. When first opened had a Bohemian skunk that cleared rapidly to a more mainstream noble pils. 2.8 stars Brewery’s description: “This Dortmund-style lager is brewed with imported pilsner and Vienna malts to create a medium-bodied golden lager. Imported Styrian Golding Hops provide solid bitterness to back the malt foundation. A well balanced, classic German lager.” ABV 5.0%, 32 IBU
Crown Brewing Crown Brown
Hand capped. Very tasty and light caramel up front. Almost coffee-like back end. Slight to sweet to dry. Slightly smoky aroma. Color just right. Burnt caramel flavor a bit much for a brown (more appropriate for a porter). Astringent finish from dark roasted malt, otherwise slightly sweet aftertaste. Good malt, Sweet, Little to no hops. Astringent finish from bitter tannins. Very dry finish. Clean nose, roast, chocolate to molasses on the back end. Desert anyone? Well carbonated. No flaws. Drinkable Southern Brown. 2.6 stars Brewery’s description: “The Crown Brown is gorgeous dark brown ale which has a gentle malt sweetness supported by a nutty, light caramel character that lasts throughout the pint. It is brewed with imported English Maris Otter Barley Malt and Fuggle hops giving it a dry finish and low hop bitterness making it readily suited for any time of day or night.” ABV 4.1%, 22 IBU.
Schlafly Reserve 2007
New American Oak from Missouri. Big hefty flavor in front stays and stays. Not hoppy like most Barley Wines. Very light in color for style. Good flavor bu t too light in every respect. Good oak nose. Light color. Light sweet malt. Great flavors with alcohol hidden pretty well. No oak in finish. Good head, malt nose. Light with no hint of Barleywine fruits but a sweet candy flavor that lingers on the pallet. Missed style but drinkable. Not cloying or sweet but long lasting. 2.0 stars
Bell’s Batch 10,000
Sweet taste, big flavor. No aroma at all. Big full flaovr, hops, malt, and prune or plum esters (fruity). Not too strong. Very enjoyable. 9.2%! Guessed 6.8%. Amazingly concealed. Nice brown coffee color. Sweet malt. Nice hop balance. Good beer for Xmas. Very good at hiding alcohol. Malt nose, hop presence, Winter Warmer without the alcohol taste. Grayish brown. Drinkable but a bit nondescript. I need a 40. 4.0 stars. Bell’s says: “The last of a series, Batch 10,000 Ale looks back to our roots, symbolizing the end of the home-brewing season with a creative take on "cleaning out the brewing supplies closet". After combing through the catalogs of many malt and hop suppliers, our brewers used over 100 different malts, grains, and other fermentables, and followed them up with a blend of 60 different hop varietals between the kettle additions and dry-hopping. The resulting beer presents a deep, chocolate brown hue and offers roasted and caramel notes from the malts mixed with an assertive hop character. Sharply bitter, the beer possesses a full mouthfeel without being heavy and will withstand aging in your cellar, if you prefer.”
Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special 30 Reserve 2007 aged in a 30-year Highland Park barrel.
Vanilla scnet. Smooth. Velvet. Very dark. Big tan head. Swet vanilla. Delicate, smooth flavor. Aged. Whisky barrel is not obvious. Serious but irresistible. Motor oil black. Smoooth vanilla, sweet malt, love it. Coffe and chocolate notes. Clean nose, dark roast malt. Rich flavor, dark roast coffee. Smooth on pallet. Hint of single-malt Scotch on backend nose. Mouthfeel is a bit flat with little carbonation. 5.0 stars.