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Beer Review: Williamsburg AleWerks Bourbon Barrel Porter

by Mike Lorenz on Jan 2, 2012 in Beer
Beer Review: Williamsburg AleWerks Bourbon Barrel Porter

Bourbon and beer are great teammates. Some drinkers may choose to chase a fine glass of bourbon with a beer, but for many brewers the connection doesn’t stop there. Several breweries release specialty dark ales aged in different types of whiskey barrels, hoping to impart the qualities of the liquor they once held onto the beer. This winter, as part of their Brewmaster’s Reserve Series, Williamsburg AleWerks of Virginia has released  Bourbon Barrel Porter, a barrel-aged version of their imperial porter.

Poured into a pint glass from a limited release 22-oz. bottle (just over 2000 were produced), the porter has a wonderfully dark brown color with a thin coffee cream-toned head. At first whiff, the enticing qualities of bourbon released by the barrels are apparent. The first sip brings hints of oak, vanilla and toffee, sneaking through the strong whiskey flavor to create a wonderfully balanced taste. Sipping through an entire glass, this brew yields a slowly developing warming quality that reminds you of its time spent in wood casks and its 9% ABV.

Williamsburg AleWerks has managed to create a great harmony between the imperial porter and the oaky qualities of bourbon. Oftentimes the experiment in barrel-aging can be heavy-handed, imparting too much sweet vanilla and woody notes for many craft fans. However, Bourbon Barrel Porter is a different story, sublimely balancing the beer and the whiskey. Unfortunately, the limited release is now gone, but keep an eye out for brewmaster Geoff Logan's future creations.

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