It’s becoming more common in the beer industry to find brewers crafting around the infusion of the Bourbon Barrel flavor. With more and more brews like these on the shelves, it can be tough to navigate the seas of whiskey flavor that lie in abundance. Enter New Belgium’s Oakspire Bourbon Barrel Ale.
Many beers that age in ex-bourbon barrels tend to have a heavier malty profile such as a stout or porter since the more dense body can work well with the addition of a little bourbon kick. New Belgium’s take is a little different. Their ale is much lighter in body than the more conventional bourbon barrel ales, and it works very well. This most certainly is aided by their choice of bourbon. The flavor of Knob Creek bourbon starts off strong, but finishes smooth and almost tart. The beer itself has little to no heat or “boozy” qualities, and this can be a rarity for any bourbon aged ales. There is little to no head retention and this is most likely due to the high alcohol content at 9% ABV, but even with a beer this strong, it doesn’t come across as just a whiskey flavored beer.
The whiskey permeates the palate, but has different flavor components throughout the sip and swallow. This leaves you with a flavor rotation every time you take a sip. There are notes of a very subtle toffee character that tends more toward caramel. The bottle itself says it has notes of vanilla, but this was nigh undetectable in our tasting session. But this isn’t a knock against it. There’s plenty of other interesting aspects to make you want to keep the bottle nearby.
If you aren’t a big whiskey drinker, this might change your mind. Just take care to share this with a friend as it’s easy to go a little overboard with this one.
GSN Rating: 3.75/5
For more information go to: New Belgium
Review by Kieran Jerome Matthew