Dec 2, 2016

Heritage Brewing Barrel-Aged Bradford

Back in December of 2013, a week or so prior to Heritage Brewing’s grand opening, I had the opportunity to sample a couple of beers pulled right from the tanks. One of those beers was a pumpkin ale brewed with assorted seasonally appropriate spices and bourbon-infused cinnamon sticks. That was the first incarnation of Bradford. It’s taken a few lefts and rights since that point, but I do recall enjoying it and remember thinking that it would be killer with a little barrel aging. Apparently, the guys thought the same thing.

Barrel-Aged Bradford has spent the last 14 months resting in single-use rye whiskey barrels from Catoctin Creek Distillery. That’s a good long time and, as expected, the barrel influence is quite strong on the 9% ABV beer. I’ll warn you now, if you’re not a fan of whiskey — rye or otherwise — this one may not be for you.

Whiskey and oaky vanilla dominate the flavor profile while light citrus notes, cinnamon, caramel and soft notes of organic pumpkin present themselves within the amber brew. The pumpkin has tailed off the most in terms of its presence within the brew, but it’s still there, lingering in the background. The beer is quite boozy as the spicy rye whiskey works well with the cinnamon sticks and spice blend.

This is not an easy beer to make it through on a solo attempt. The barrel influence is strong and like many beers of this ilk, it can wear on the tastebuds and palate a bit. But, if you are willing to see the bottle through to the end, you’ll be rewarded with a flavorful experience, especially as the beer has had time to warm in the glass. I believe Barrel-Aged Bradford would benefit with some more time in the bottle, give the whiskey barrel influence a little more time to mellow. I fear that the pumpkin notes may be gone by then, but the combination of everything else should prove worth the wait.

This is a review of a promotional sample.