Usually it is aged in Bourbon barrels, and it can add quite a nice Oaky-Caramel impact on a base beer.
One popular version is New Holland Dragon’s Milk, which is an Imperial Stout made in Michigan. Well, in a twist that seems as though someone should have thought about it ages ago, they have decided to go ahead and throw their Bourbon back into the barrels that previously held the beer!
As someone that is borderline infatuated with the Craft Whiskey movement, I find this to be an interesting concept worth exploring. I just have to find out for myself whether or not the beer factor is identifiable, and of course…does it taste good?
Of course the technical side of me ponders…would this technically be considered more of a 'finished' bourbon? It is entering a cask that is not pure, unused American Oak at the end. Per their website:
Beer Barrel Bourbon is first aged in new American oak barrels for several years, before a three month beer-y slumber.
That leads me to believe that this is more of a “finished” bourbon, like Angel’s Envy. I am pretty sure that the basis of this Beer Barrel Bourbon is a blend of 110-115 proof Bourbons that come from Lawrenceburg Distillers in Indiana. (LDI supplies much of the Bourbon out there, like Templeton Rye and many others...purely a guess) Then the bourbon is placed in the used Dragon’s Milk barrels, and about 3-months later it is transformed into an incredibly smooth treat. Not too bad of an idea. I am excited to see if the myriad of lives that the barrel has experienced will shine through here.
Appearance: Dark Brown, almost Black/Amber if that is possible
Nose: Corn, something Sweet…tough to pin down…almost yeasty
Palate: Caramel, Coffee Grinds, Malt, very mellow
Finish: Easy and smooth, chocolate and coffee
I love that New Holland is having fun here. They clearly took a brewer’s perspective with this one, and I do think that they have achieved some new flavors. This does not reek of innovation for innovation’s sake, I think there is some ingenuity behind this. While overall I find the 80 proof flavors a little tame, it is hard to argue that there is something different (as there is hardly any Oak to speak of). That is part of what I really enjoy about offerings from the smaller distilleries, they take risks. Man, this really had some coffee notes in there, I’d love to try some type of cocktail with this and coffee liquor…or perhaps in some epic coffee based smoothie. Super smooth sipper either way, and worth trying out to form your own opinion.