Jul 31, 2013

New Holland Oak Aged Hatter

It’s been quite some time since I last had New Holland’s Mad Hatter IPA, so I can’t really compare this bottle of the Oak Aged Hatter to the original. What I can say, however, is that I’ve had a few IPAs that have been barrel aged, and this latest release from the Michigan brewery is probably one of the better balanced of the examples.

The 7.22% ABV Oak Aged Hatter has been aged in retired barrels from Kentucky — barrels that I don’t believe previously held any sort of whiskey or bourbon as there are no signs of that to be found here. The barrel aging does impart a subtle woody character and hints of vanilla to what is already a pretty solid IPA.


Oak Aged Hatter pours a dark amber in color with a short-lived, off-white cap of foam. Despite the brevity of the head, the remaining foam left decent lacing along the glass as the brew magically disappeared.


Floral, citrusy hops fill the nose immediately as light wood and distant vanilla notes waft gently in the background. It’s not overly “hoppy” nor is the barrel influence too dominating.


Unlike the aroma the order of influences is reversed as the wood, vanilla and soft smokiness arrive first. The citrusy hop character arrives next along with bready malts and light caramel. All of the elements combine to make Oak Aged Hatter a well rounded and balanced beer. The hop bitterness is of a moderate intensity and lingers a good long while in the drying finish. The beer has a good body to it and lightly warming alcohol presence.


I like the influences that barrel aging brings to beers, particularly the IPA. With the Oak Aged Hatter, the barrels have imparted just enough sway within the beer’s flavor to let you know it’s been aged on wood without smacking you upside the cranium with a beer-soaked stave. This is definitely a solid effort from New Holland and one that I will have again.

Rating: 4/5

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