Widmer Brothers Barrel Aged Brrrbon

Reviewed by on January 23, 2015 in Winter Guide

The Details

  • Brewery: Widmer Brothers Brewing Company

  • Origin: Portland, OR, US

  • Rated On: January 6, 2015

  • Best Before: Bottled November 8, 2012

  • ABV: 9.4%

  • Ideal Temperature: cool to cellar temperature

  • Style: Winter Warmer

  • Rating: GOOD !

The Review

The Brrrbon series is a line of cold-weather concoctions from Portland, Oregon’s Widmer Brothers Brewing, which have been additionally aged in ‘Kentucky Bourbon’ (are there other kinds?) barrels, and released anew each year.  The frontal lobotomy :-) is the 2012 edition.

This 22oz bottle pours a slightly hazy, medium bronzed amber hue, with one finger of weakly puffy, foamy, and bubbly ecru head, which leaves some boiling seascape lace around the glass as it quickly sinks away.

It smells of fruity (of the white wine grape, Poire Williams, and orange Stoli sort) caramel malt, soft grainy barrel notes – astringent wood, dry vanilla, and boozy rye – faint and muddled winter seasonal spices, the only one showing its face being a hint of metallic cinnamon, and a further bit of musty, leafy dryness. The taste is still quite fruity, with some mixed cold melon essences complementing the established orange, grapefruit, and sugary lemon suspects, as well as the underlying bready caramel sweetness, which all seem to hold off that gritty Bluegrass state booze barrel character (wood, spice, vanilla, repeat) with both style, and aplomb, the blended savoury spices still underwhelming in their isolation, but enjoyable all the same.

The carbonation is pretty low-key, the frothiness of the plain and banal variety, the body a decent enough medium weight, and generally smooth, with a slight airy creaminess evolving as it warms. It finishes on the sweet side, but more from fruit than any native caramel malt or barrel-borne incursions.

A surprising version of this venerable American style of brewing, as the barrel character seems to have wilted over the intervening couple of years, ceding its influence to a rather pleasant and engaging fruitiness, one that seems to have zero problem letting the big ABV in the door, but not so much as to cause any real ruckus, y’know? Easy-drinking, tasty, lightly spiced, and warming – what else do you want in a winter bevy?

Brady White

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