Hey beer drinker! As I might have mentioned in my last post, I finally decided to take the plunge on this whole barrel-aged beer trend. Yes, it seems that brewers in the South Island region are determined to turn the 2012/13 winter season into a time of bourbon-infused beer. So who am I withhold my opinions?
And so in addition to Howe Sound’s Wee Beastie, I was sure to pick up a bottle of Old Barrel Dweller, Driftwood’s contribution to the season. Since it bears a strong resemblance to Phillips Trainwreck, another barley wine that was re-released for 2012 after being aged in barrels originally used for storing bourbon, I was highly resistant to giving it a try. But of course, curiosity and my duties as a beer reviewer got the best of me. And so here we are…
As expected, OBD builds on last years barley wine by adding some discernible notes of bourbon whiskey. But interestingly enough, its slightly weaker than its predecessor, being 11.8% alc/vol rather than a full on 12. Hence, the only real reason Driftwood chose to perform this little crossover was to add a layer to the flavor and present a smokier, peatier, more complex palate.
Appearance: Dark ruby red, slight cloudiness, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Sweet barley malts, mild tang, hint of smoke
Taste: Immediate hint of bourbon, sugary malts, touch of peat
Aftertaste: Lingering peaty moss taste, strong notes of alcohol
Granted, I did not enjoy this beer as much as I did its predecessor – Old Cellar Dweller. Much like Trainwreck, I feel a barley wine has no business crossing paths with bourbon! And yet, I approve of this one far more than anything else produced this season. For one, it managed to merge the bourbon infused flavor without overpowering the barley wine base. But make no mistake, I still say the two are better off on their own! Next season, more barley wine, less bourbon!