May 3, 2013

Anderson Valley Bourbon Barrel Stout

You know what I really love about this Bourbon Barrel Stout from Anderson Valley Brewing? It’s a big flavored brew, but without the over-the-top alcohol content — it’s only 6.9% ABV. We don’t nearly see enough barrel aged stouts in this lower alcohol range. Normally, we’re talking 10% or more when we reference stouts aged in retired barrels. And I completely understand why. These types of beers usually require more work on the brewery’s part and are also usually available in limited quantities, so brewery’s try and make them more “special” by cranking up the alcohol.

That in no way means that this brew from Anderson Valley is anything but special. In fact, it’s the beer’s lower potency and full-flavored, bourbony character that make it a stand out example among its peers. I relish the fact that I can enjoy a couple of glasses of stout that has all of the great influences of oak, bourbon and the aging process and not be completely wrecked after the fact — which can often be the case with these types of beers.


Bourbon Barrel Stout pours a not-quite pitch black with a dense, brown head that dropped slowly to a full collar.


Soft wafts of bourbon float above a dark malt base that has hints of chocolate and coffee. There’s a touch of wood in the mix, as well.


The bourbon and wood are much more pronounced in the flavor than the aroma let on, but neither is so fierce as to distract from or dominate the solid stout base. Dark coffee, with a bit of astringency, and hints of chocolate join the bourbon and oak elements. This full-bodied brew finishes with a subtle touch of warmth and a finish that’s appropriately drying for the style.


This is a pretty darn good stout. The moderate-to-strong bourbon character was just right for my liking as the woody oak and dark malts all came together for a balanced and drinkable beer. Again, it’s hard to beat a beer that has this much flavor and isn’t going to keep you from a second glass.

Rating: 4/5

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