Big Rock Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter

Reviewed by on March 24, 2016 in Local Heroes Guide

The Details

  • Brewery: Big Rock Brewery

  • Origin: Calgary, AB, CA

  • Rated On: March 24, 2016

  • Best Before: January 7, 2017

  • ABV: 10.4%

  • Ideal Temperature: cool to cellar temperature

  • Style: American Porter

  • Rating: GOOD !

The Review

Calgary’s Big Rock Brewery has released this Bourbon barrel-aged offering, which is a different brew (first, it’s a porter) than the Bourbon entry in Big Rock’s mixed gift pack from late 2014.

This 650ml bottle pours a clear, dark cola brown colour, with one chubby finger of puffy, loosely foamy, and eventually bubbly tan head, which leaves a few instances of cannonball splash lace around the glass as it quickly blows off.

It smells of pleasantly saccharine Mars Bars (milk chocolate and nougat, predominately), further grainy, and faintly roasted caramel malt, restrained Kentucky barrel notes – vanilla and a wan rye spiciness – subtle black licorice candy, a wavering dark orchard fruitiness, and very timid earthy and weedy hops. The taste is still rather sweet, as the cocoa and cafe-au-lait stricken caramel/toffee malt continue to run the show, the understated Bourbon character (vanilla and wet wood, mostly) falls further out of scope, some Mediterranean-adjacent black fruitiness idles along, and that heretofore underwhelming earthy, leafy, and perfumed floral hoppiness shows the only sign of the purported north of 20-proof booze. The bubbles are fairly benign in their simple and disengaging frothiness, the body a solid medium weight, and actually quite smooth, with a nice airy creaminess availing itself from the get-go. It finishes bordering on full sweetness, with only a sense of the used barrel and ethereal alcohol keeping this one from the tongue scraping hall of infamy.

Overall, a sort of kid-gloves treatment of this big-boy brewing style – the Bourbon whiskey notes are very low-key, yet that also means that the elevated ABV is somehow damned-near invisible. At any rate, if you could call a barrel-aged large brew like this a starter or gateway version, this would be your evidence when ducking out of the way.

Brady White

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