FlacoAlto (3810) - Tucson, Arizona, USA - JAN 9, 2008
3.5 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
2005 Bottle 80 / 222, Sampled January 2008
This is the barrel aged beer of Alesmith’s that I have wanted to try most. As I pop the cap only a touch of gas escapes. A vigorous pour can’t do much but summon a thin, very large bubbled, bit of froth that doesn’t completely cover the top of the beer. The beer itself is a dark, brownish-amber color and shows an opaque, hazy, dark ruby / deep red color when held up to the light. Aromas of Bourbon are quite apparent as I pour this brew; upon further inspection the Bourbon is still the most noticed part of the aroma. Aromatic notes of vanillin, butterscotch, spicy oak and alcohol, almost a cola like barrel / malt note and a rich, deeply caramelized character that is contributed by both the bourbon barrel char and the malt are all evident in the nose. Underneath these notes is a deep, if subtle, dark, caramelized fruit character that just sort of melts into the buttery oak and vanillin notes. Despite being so Bourbon barrel dominated the aroma is actually quite smooth and seemingly well integrated; it does not come off as boozy in the least.
Very lightly carbonated, but not flat, the beer is fairly sweet up front. This rich, sweetness makes me think of a vanilla infused dark fruit compote made up of raisins, prunes, figs, berries and a light cherry note. Through the middle the beer starts to pick up a bit more of the Bourbon and barrel notes, which, by the time the beer has left my mouth, have become a dominating, spicy mix of warm Bourbon, piquantly spicy oak, a touch of salty peat, lightly phenolic smoke and alcohol. This lingering flavor doesn’t quite disappear until one takes another sip and lets the beer rest on the tongue to soak in the concentrated, rich, sweet malt and caramelized notes. Rich caramel malts, flavors of melted brown sugar and dark toffee add to the complexity here. Thick and chewy, the beer rests on the palate with a slightly sticky heft that is just barely offset by the minimal carbonation; the beer has about the same level of carbonation of a draught real ale, which actually sort of works with this beer as much of the chewy, rich malt notes are offset by the spicy oak / bourbon notes. Sometimes with the minimal carbonation it can even seem a bit thin, but ultimately the texture of this beer is just quite nice.
I must admit that I like the regular version of this beer a bit better, but that is typically the case for me. I just think that this one is holding up a bit better than most do as the base beer really is such a malty, monster of a beer (though you lose that with the bourbon barrel character layered on top of it). My biggest complaint is the lack of substantial carbonation, a light-medium level of carbonation would be perfect, though it does still do well with the low level that it does have. I really like how complex & integrated the barrel character is here, somehow, though it is the dominant note, it does not overwhelm my palate, and it is not too hot and one dimensional.
axilla (962) - New Providence, Pennsylvania, USA - JAN 6, 2008
4.3 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
Sampled at yeha courtesy of Jasonmech77, huge thanks! Poured a darker amber/brown body with a small off-white head. The aroma is sweet smoke, carmel, vanilla, bourbon, and mild roast. Flavor strats with a shot of sweet smoke, mild coffee, and some chocolate with a vanilla bourbon finish that actually ends with some more dry smokiness. Very nice.
padrefan98 (854) - (San Diego) Santee, California, USA - JAN 5, 2008
4.4 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
Bottle shared at the fordest tasting. Very nice subtle aromas of wood, sweet vanilla, and flavors of malt, wood and vanilla. Very good!
jason (1703) - Easton, Pennsylvania, USA - JAN 1, 2008
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
Bottle 79/222. Big thanks to cbkschubert for hooking me up with my most sought after beer. Poured a dark brown body with thin head. Aroma is smokey, vanilla. Flavor is a smooth smokey flavor, light vanilla, sweet malt. Wow!
jimbowood (1036) - Freeport, Georgia, USA - DEC 25, 2007
3.8 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 17/20
Bottle from Naven. 2005 vintage 186/222. Underimpressed w/ this one. Flat mouthfeel. Not a lot of flavor. Lingering alcohol finish in the back of the throat. Bourbon and not much else here. Not a bad beer by any stretch, but definitely not what I was expecting. Past it’s prime?
hophead75 (2012) - Largo, Florida, USA - DEC 17, 2007
4.3 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
sampled from a 750 at YEHA. Dark brown with ruby highlights and a small head. Aroma of heavy caramel, oak, vanilla, bourbon, light smoke and chocolate. Taste is caramel, bourbon, oak, with chocolate and touches of smoke. Very full bodied- but smooth. Another great Alesmith beer.
hopdog (9580) - Lansdale, Pennsylvania, USA - DEC 17, 2007
4.1 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 17/20
750ml bottle. 2005, bottle # 79/222. Poured a deep brown color with a small sized off white head. Aromas of vanilla, oak, earthy, bourbon, chocolate, some peat, and caramel. Tastes of bourbon, vanilla, woody, earthy, toffee, nutty, and chocolate. Thanks for bringing this Jason!
after4ever (6513) - Brier, Washington, USA - DEC 13, 2007
4.4 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 17/20
750, capped. Thanks, Foolish_Mortal! Awesome stuff. #144/223 of the ’07 release (’05 beer bottled 18 months later). Blackish purple. Still. Headless. Laceless. Huge sweet oaky vanilla bourbon nose. Lightish body--not a bit syrupy or sticky or heavy. Complex toffee, butterscotch, vanilla, and bourbon on the mid-palate. Long, light, sugary finish.
ryan (3186) - Beltsville, Maryland, USA - DEC 1, 2007
3.4 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
2005 batch, #42/222, provided by kmweaver. Opaque dirty dark brown with a tiny, fading, tan head. The nose is fairly sweet with lots of toffee, bourbon, alcohol and dark fruits. The flavor is moderately sweet with lots of caramelized sugars, prunes, raisins and bourbon. Full sticky body with light carbonation and a hot finish. This was a boozy, sugary bourbon bomb. Not Alesmith’s best work.
cbkschubert (2900) - BFE, Arizona, USA - NOV 21, 2007
4.1 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
UPDATED: FEB 16, 2009 2005 750 ml bottle #81/222 shared with highibus - Pours a hazy brown color with no head or lacing. Aroma is oak/bourbon and dark esters. Flavor is much of the same. Has a lingering oak/bourbon aftertaste. Medium to full body. Alcohol is noticeable. To be honest, I think I like the regular version better. I think the barrel aging masks the malt character found in the regular version. Still, a fine beer.
Re-rate: Well an additional 16 months has done this beer wonders. The oak/bourbon presences is no longer overbearing. Also the vanilla is more noticeable. If you have a 2005 bottle, it’s ready