Posted 3 weeks ago | Beer, Reviews, Virginia Beer

Heritage Brewing Barrel Aged Wild Belgian Ale

Rating:

It was during an early visit with Heritage Brewing co-founder Sean — months before they officially opened — where he stated he’d never brew a wild ale. Well, as you can see by the title of this review, “never” has arrived. In conjunction with the May 13th grand opening of the company’s Market Common Brewpub & Roastery in Arlington, this barrel-aged Belgian-style strong dark ale will see its public debut.

As the inaugural release from the brewery’s American Wilderness line of wild and barrel-aged beers, Barrel Aged Wild Belgian Ale does not have an envious task. Starting life out as a Belgian-style strong dark ale brewed with spices, the beer rested in a variety of barrels for an extended period of time. In the case of this particular brew, both whiskey and rum barrels were employed in the blending process. And much like many of Heritage’s other barrel-aged products, this one ain’t small — weighing in at 13% ABV.

So what does this “never gonna happen” wild ale taste like? It’s certainly a complex beer with a myriad of flavors swirling around in its coppery depths. The whiskey and rum barrel influence are evident immediately on both the nose and once the boozy beer hits the tongue. Burnt caramel, a gentle funky wild trait and a twinge of sour tartness at the edges all present themselves evenly behind the barrel flavors. I’d personally like the beer to be a bit fuller on the palate to help support those rich flavors, giving them something to cling to.

I’d also let Barrel Aged Wild Belgian Ale rest for a while longer in the bottle — help that potent alcohol presence mellow a bit and everything else have time to mingle and get to know one another. For the company’s first bottled wild ale, it’s a solid effort. It’s not an overly tart or sour beer by any means and presents a rich flavor profile that I’m sure will evolve nicely with some cellaring.

This is a review of a promotional sample.

Appearance

First, I'd love to point out the wonderfully designed, die-cut label on this beer — it looks great. Barrel Aged Wild Belgian Ale pours a lightly murky, copper in color with a densely beaded head of beige foam. The cap falls smoothly to a full crown.

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