Today is a special day, for we have before us a super local Barrel Aged beer to sample. As many of you may know, on Friday Boundary Bay offered a unique glimpse into their barrel-aging project: The Bootlegger Barrel Series. Tapping exclusive barrel aged variants of Cedar Dust IPA, Scotch Ale, Cabin Fever, and Imperial Oatmeal Stout. What’s clever about these is that the barrels used were sourced from right next door, err, right down the back alleyway. A pretty awesome concept, utilizing both American and Hungarian Oak barrels to impart flavors and complexities upon each of the base beers. I unfortunately was unable to attend Friday nights festivities, but I was able to pop in on Saturday in the midst of my crazed Christmas shopping, and was pleasantly surprised to find most of the beers still available in bottles.
Decisions, decisions, there was still Hungarian Oak Aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout, Cabin Fever, and Scotch Ale, all in Wax-Capped bottles, but there was also Bourbon Barrel Imperial Oatmeal Stout, it was a no brainer for me, I enjoy a good Bourbon nearly as much as I do a great beer. I also have a slight disdain for wax-capped bottles, they look great, but they are usually a pain to remove and get to the beer. So the 750ml Cork & Caged Imperial Oatmeal Stout Aged in Chuckanut Bay Distillery American Oak Bourbon Barrels was quickly acquired. Man that is a long name, but it really does clear up any confusion as to just what this beer is.
Brewery — Boundary Bay Brewing Company, Bellingham, WA
Beer — Bootlegger Barrel Series — Bourbon Barrel Stout
Price — $18 / 750ml
Availability — Extremely Limited @ Boundary Bay
75oml Cork & Caged Bottle, poured into 13oz tulip for tasting
Appearance (4/5) — A jet black beer flows out of the bottle into the glass, there is no semblance of a head here, merely just a thin film that settles and leaves behind some oily residue down the inside of the glass with each sip. Appears somewhat syrupy and heavy in the glass. A nice deep black beer, with very little light passing through the edges when held up to the light.
Aroma (4.5/5) — Dominated initially by American White Oak, followed by lightly sweet vanilla notes. As it warms it picks up some huge bittersweet chocolate notes, think of powdered bakers chocolate, or slowly melting a cauldron of semi-sweet chocolate. Not overly sweet though, there is a resounding and much needed Bourbon kick of spice and dryness, notes of cinnamon bark and charred oak add some nice bitterness.
Taste (4.5/5) — A boozy, chocolaty, semi-sweet, viscous, fulfilling chorus of flavors here. Initially I got a bitter and chewy licorice component that went undetected on the nose. There is the familiar vanilla sweetness as well as a charred oak foundation that really rounds things out. As it warms the chocolate aspect really hits its stride, loads of semi-sweet and dark chocolate flavor components balanced upon a chewy, dry, and slightly cinnamon spiced Bourbon base.
Mouthfeel (4/5) — Full bodied, as expected. Carbonation is quite low, but that’s alright. This is a stick to your ribs fulfilling beer. Hell, I opened this on Saturday and I am enjoying the last pour of it tonight, days later. A little goes a long way, but it is not overpowering, everything is in balance and comes together.
Overall (4.5/5) — This was fantastic, and honestly exceeded my expectations. I didn’t get to try any of the Hungarian Oak Aged variants (yet), but this Bourbon Barrel Imperial Oatmeal Stout was very well done, kudos Boundary!