Dec 11, 2013

Widmer Brothers Vanilla Barrel-Aged Brrrbon 2013

This bottle of Vanilla Brrrbon is the last of three from Widmer Brothers that I received a couple of weeks ago. It was saved for the last review because of one word — vanilla. I’ve had many beers through the years that have used vanilla in various amounts, but most of them have, in my opinion, relied too heavily on the additive. I like vanilla, but it has far too often overpowered an otherwise good beer with its flavor.

Widmer Brothers got it right with this beer. This version of their barrel-aged Brrrbon is every bit as good as the original. The use of vanilla beans here is subtle and only proves to accentuate the natural characteristic that the oak barrels have imparted on this tasty brew. The effect isn’t too strong and actually makes the beer a bit softer and more smooth. The beer I thought I would like the least turned out to be pretty damn good.


Just as the other two versions, the Vanilla Brrrbon pours a copper in color with a beige cap of foam that fell smoothly to a thin ring around the glass.

Widmer Brothers Vanilla Brrrbon photo


Wood, bourbon, caramel and a slightly more pronounced vanilla character than the baseline. The vanilla presence is far from overwhelming here.


You can definitely pick up more vanilla in this version of Brrrbon, but it’s in a more complimentary role than one that demands too much attention from the beer as a whole. If anything, the increased presence makes the beer smoother and slightly softer as it slows over the tongue. The wood and caramel marry nicely and the vanilla presents itself even more as the beer warms in the glass all in an accompanying role.


When I first opened the package shortly after it arrived, I was worreed about the Vanilla Brrrbon, but in the end, my fears were completely unfounded. This brew is just as well balanced and the original and the added vanilla bean only proves to lightly accentuate aspects of the beer instead of taking them over. Well done.

Rating: 4.25/5

This is a review of a promotional sample from the brewery.

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