Otter Creek 20th Anniversary Ale - Otter Creek Brewing / Wolaver's

Not Rated.
Otter Creek 20th Anniversary AleOtter Creek 20th Anniversary Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

193 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 193
Reviews: 91
rAvg: 3.61
pDev: 16.34%
Wants: 3
Gots: 28 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Otter Creek Brewing / Wolaver's
Vermont, United States

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale |  12.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Brad007 on 09-24-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

55 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 193 | Reviews: 91
Reviews by TheBrewo:
Photo of TheBrewo
3.75/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This brew was served from the tap at The Old Toad in Rochester, NY. It arrived in an unmarked goblet. The beer showed a deeply rich looking maroon coloring. It sported a half finger tall head of tan bubbles that showed medium retention. No lacing was left around the glass. Carbonation appeared light, and there was a slight haze to the liquid. The nose opened with huge booze-soaked cherries, figs, and plums. A cotton candy sweetness effectively cut this flame. Helping this additional sweetness was the malts, which were roasty, caramel, and in themselves, very sweet. Our first impression upon sipping was in regards to the deep complexity of the malts. The flavoring began with coffee malts which became deeply coppery with warmth. Plum and lime sweetness crashed in to help balance the bitterness of the grain. The middle peaked immediately with huge fusel booze, with black pepper and fire. A big mix of pale, barley, and caramel malts attempted to curb this explosion, along with some toffee sugar and more of the fruit from the front. These all clashed, bringing us to a syrupy sweet finish of strawberry and black cherry extracts. The aftertaste burned of fusel vodka alcohols, crystallized strawberry, white sugar sweetness, and coffee malts, to play off the insane bitterness of the continued malts through the end. The body was thicker, full, and syrupy, and the carbonation was medium to high. Due to the bitterness, booze, and sweetness, this guy puckered the mouth hard, with a sugary coating left around the mouth. There was nice slurp, but little creaminess to the sip. The abv was high, but appropriate, and this beer drank s a definite sipper.

Overall, what we found to be most enjoyable about this brew was the fruity inclusions, and the syrupy thickness to it. The sweetness really helped to cut the insane amount of booze flavoring that got through. The malts showed a surprising number of faces, with deep complexity to each layer. This, however, became lost in the overwhelming booziness which, in the end, was too hard to balance out.

More User Reviews:
Photo of lordofthewiens
3.03/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottled 9/13/11.
In a pilsner glass this beer was a mohogany color with a small tan head and a little lace. It had a viscous appearance.

Aroma of dark fruit and caramel. Very sweet. Alcohol noticeable. Very hot.

Toffee and caramel taste. Raisins. Booze.

Not bad, will probably age . A little too sweet and a little too hot.

Photo of Billolick
3.88/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle purchased a month ago in Vermont (Pearl st. Burlington)

Pours: super clear, glowing, auburn tinged darker honey. Medium tan head, frothy and loose, better then decent retention, very slowly going to a loose and blotchy film, thin collar and a moderate amount of bits of fine lace.

Nose: heavy caramel

Taste: sweet, caramel malty, smokey, with some peat, tastes similar to a nice smooth glass of single malt scotch.

Mouthfeel: smooth and pleasing on the tongue and flowing around the mouth

overall: After reading the earlier reviews I was expecting an overheated, young and alcohol laced brew...maybe a month or two in the bottle, has been enough or to cool this one down a bit. I found it to be a strong, bold, flavorful and pleasant sipper/night capper type of brew. Probably will continue to improve/soften/mellow with some more age in the bottle, but drinking quite well right now IMHO

Photo of kingcrowing
3.34/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap poured into a pint glass.

Pours a muddy dirty brown, almost no head, no lacing, and it's just an odd color. Nose is malty, slightly boozy boozy, and that's it.

Taste is complex, caramel and dark chewy molasses, it has a full creamy Mouthfeel and a sharp finish. Hard to describe but still good!

Photo of jondeelee
4.25/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Otter Creek's 20th Anniversary Ale opens with a rich, malty, yeasty nose that is perfectly appropriate for a 12% ABV beer brewed with four times the hops and malts of Otter Creek's Copper Ale (the beer to which this edition pays homage). The aromas drifting from the bottle are heavily yeasty, mixed in with the distilled aromas of several pounds of fresh wet grains, smelling in this sense much like rising bread dough, only more concentrated and potent. Deep beneath this, and barely noticeable, are brown sugars and hints of cherry, apple, and apricot.

On the tongue, the beer continues its yeasty, malty slam, the opening flavors tasting much like concentrated bread dough, or perhaps raw wheat bagel dough, being yeasty and full of grain flavors, as if your entire mouth was full of stalks of raw wheat mixed with Grape Nuts cereal and toasted wheat bread crusts. The hops kick in only a half-second or so after this opening onslaught, adding grapefruit and pine layers to the beer in sufficient quantity to make themselves noticed (which is difficult, given the strength of the grain flavors). Strong brown sugars help temper the beer somewhat, and the malts do bring a good plateful of fruit esters to the mix, including fig, black cherry, apple, and raisin. The high alcohol content mixed with some of these fruit and grain flavors makes the brew seem cognac-like in certain aspects, moving slightly towards a harsher bourbon profile, though touches of vodka-like alcohol kick somewhat spoil the effect. The aftertaste is a continuation of the pure grain and yeast flavors, with fewer sugars, and a lingering, but lighter grapefruit hop presence. Mouthfeel is medium-heavy, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, this is good beer, though the high ABV does somewhat detract from the overall effect, making the beer not only slightly harsh, but medicinal. Still, the flavors in here are just about as intense as you'll find in any brew, and it's obvious that huge quantities of malt and hops go into every bottle. When young--as is the bottle that I opened--these quantities produce a brew that is somewhat harsh and demanding, but I suspect that time will be very kind to the beer, mellowing the spiky bits out until, a few years from now or so, what will pour out is golden and smooth as silk. Personally, I'm cellaring the rest of my four-pack for at least two years.

Photo of dogfishandi
3.23/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle at about cellar temp poured into a goblet. split with a friend.

pours a deep brownish, reddish color, the slightest bit hazy, some sediment. a thin, skim layer of off white head, average retention, no real lacing.

very sweet, astringently fruity malts, lots of fruity esters. pretty boozey, somewhat solvent like. grapey and vinious as well as some toffee and caramel malts.

again, lots of astringent fruity sweetness. im usually a fan of sweetness in a beer like this, but this is just a totally bad kind of sweetness. lots of fruity esters and slightly solvent booze. toffee, caramel, and vinious fruits, a bit of apple.

astringent, hot, feel a bit thick and syrupy. drinkability is really low. and did i mention super sweet?

i did not enjoy this beer at all, but i still didnt have it in me to drain pour it. this really needs a lot of age to become drinkable, but its still a longshot.

Photo of Sammy
3.58/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a brown body with thick head. Malty and boozy aroma. Fuller mouthfeel, a sipper. Toffee-ish, hop bitterness comes through in finish. A spot of fruit. A little like an old ale, though at 12% I would call an American strong, although can accept it being called a barleywine.

Photo of jmerloni
1.79/5  rDev -50.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

A - An impressive, thick pour. Dark copper, rich and vibrant looking with ridiculous off-white head.

S - Very fruity, smells fairly tart.

T - Oh my lord, I didn't expect a disaster like this. Unbelievably sweet; almost tastes candied or pralined. Maple'ish tasting dried fruits. Sip comes totally apart as you swallow it.

M - Thick like imitation maple syrup. The sip totally collapses as you swallow it into a mess of sweetness that has the body of flat pepsi. This is one of the worst things I've ever encountered.

D - Awful. Wouldn't ever get this again and I would stop others from buying it if I ever saw that they were in the store. Atrocious.

Photo of ricknelson
4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Our group of 4 Beer Advocate members did a recent small bottle tasting of high alcohol brews.
Among the 12 brews tasted was; Otter Creek's 20th Anniversary American Strong Ale (Retired).
The 20th tied for our 8th highest average score of the 12 brews tasted at 4.06.

Photo of HopsYeast
3.74/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-pours a half finger head that slowly fads to a very thin layer. Has decent amount of lacing. Body is dark bronze to an almost mahogany color. Semi cloudy body.

S-black cherries, malt and an almost buttery aroma. Caramel. There is a pleasant hop smell that mixes with the subtle alcohol notes near the end. Also smell granny smith apples and burnt sugar.

T-nice dose of hops up front that hits and then fads right away. Maltiness with a doughy flavor like that of raw dough. Lingering notes of dark fruit like the skin of a purple plum, and then a sour but pleasant alcohol taste that warms the chest in the end.

M-nice mouthfeel with little to no carbonation. Very heavy body like that of a scotch, almost syrup like. Sticks to the tongue and weighs down on the palate after each swallow.

O-I like this beer but the abv is very noticeable. It is definitely a sipper and something I can drink in front of a fire during a blizzard.

Photo of jtierney89
4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark, opaque, amber color. About a half inch of vanilla head is present but it recedes quickly to a thin lace. I got no expectations of this beer, I've never tried anything otter creek but I was attracted to the abv.

Smell is nothing but chocolate and caramel malts but it comes through nice and cleanly.

Fizzy and thick mouth feel. A ton of rich chocolate and caramel flavors. For such a high abv the sweetness is mellow and nice. Kind of drinks like a stout flavor wise. What's unique though is a mild hop presence on the back end to balance out the flavors. Both the malt and hops go together excellently. Some sweetness lingers in your mouth afterwards but it's not terrible.

I dont know why this doesnt have a higher rating. . It's suprising balanced and rich in flavor. I couldnt drink more than one at a sitting, but definately a good brew!


Held up pretty nicely. Body lightens, becomes very champagne like, flavors mellowed. Slight sweetness but an odd bitterness that might come from the now more prevalent alcohol. Starting to drink like a sherry but a good one, if you have one have it with a meal, its pairing awesome with some salty pork right now

Photo of puboflyons
4.24/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled on November 11, 2011. The pour is dark amber with a smallish head that becomes a long lasting ring. Sweeter malts are up front in the aroma along with plum or prune, raisins, and Otter Creek's own strain of yeast. With its high ABV I expected a more boozy aroma but that was not the case. The body is medium to heavy with decent stability. Although there is a fizzy acidity that I cannot quite explain but it is just there and not terribly important. As for the taste, I am getting that same malty character aqs the aroma with virtually no alcohol noted. So in that regard it is quite smooth. I bought a couple of these and will be cellaring one of them. I am interested in knowing how it will taste at this time next year.

Photo of beerthulhu
3.67/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: A dense burgundy red shows some chunky particulate yeasty matter floating about. A bronze-tan head is slight and frothy, with a low to moderate retention rate. Some spotty speckled lacing adheres to the glass.

S: Dark fruit of plums and prunes with some boozy sweet caramelization with spicy herbal notes of tarragon and parsley. Some sweet figs are also well noted here.

T: The flavor was lighly boozy, not as strong as the 12.0% you would think, the sweetness hides most indication. Some plums and cocoa and again spicy herbal notes of tarragon are evident along with the sweet sugary figs.

M: The mouthful had a gentle warming of sweet dried boozy fruit with a syrupy texture and an average rate of carbonation.

O: Overall the alcohol is very managable here hidden behind its malt sweetness and sweetened dark fruit. Good mid range offering.

Photo of Gobigvt7
3.86/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle from Grape & Gourmet in VB, VA.

rich mahogany color with a light, thin head. No legs to speak of.

very light aroma, slight malt and yeast and not a lot else.

a boozy malt bomb, for sure, with a nice fruity character also. This is apparently an homage to their copper ale and it seems a fitting one. Toffee, hazelnuts, caramel, brown sugar. Slight bitterness on the finish, a very welcome resolve.

hot and sticky, coats the mouth. a sipper, for sure. Don't mind it.

Really surprised by how much I like this beer. Almost like an imperial dopplebock in flavor. The perfect amount of sweetness. A great balance of nutty, malty flavors. Bravo!

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.35/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to korguy123 for this beer!
Bottle code 3080091311. Poured in to Duvel tulip.

A - Poured a dark copper colour. Murky. Opaque. Only a ring of white head formed around the edges of the glass.

S - Bready malts, toffee, dark fruit and dark caramel. A touch of chocolate and a noticeable alcohol aroma are present in the background.

T - Sweet bready malts, toffee and caramel with a huge alcohol presence. The background has some dark fruit and brown sugar flavours but they are buried beneath the alcohol burn that seems to intensify with ever sip. I think this one needs to age a little.

M - Medium body with a big chew. Light to moderate carbonation.

O - Would be interesting to age one of these for a few years but not very pleasant fresh.

Photo of TheBigV
4.18/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I just opened this a few minutes ago, and am impressed, to begin with. The beer is a rich amber to reddish brown and with a minimal head, which fades quickly.

(Un)fortunately, this beer is still very young, but at 12% it is where it should be for a barleywine. Rich malt sweetness and vanilla notes on the palate fade to a bit of alcohol bitterness on the finish. I really look forward to putting some of this away for a few years. Barleywines are meant to age, and this is no exception. I expect the sweetness to moderate, the alcohol to blend in and this beer to just get better and better for several years to come. This isn't drinking it's best, but it is what I expect for what it is at this point in its evolution.

And now, off to tilt the rest of this back and start my afternoon right. Beer's not just for breakfast, anymore.

Photo of metter98
3.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is a very hazy caramel brown in color. It poured with a half finger high beige head that gradually died down but consistently left a thick ring of large bubbles around the edge of the glass and a film of bubbles in the center.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of brown sugar and caramel in the nose along with hints of fruit.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and has additional notes of toffee. There is lots of malty sweetness in the initial taste along with some hints of bitterness in the finish.
M: It feels full-bodied and a bit boozy on the palate with a low to moderate amount of carbonation along with warming from the alcohol.
O: This beer definitely tastes strong, but the alcohol is relatively well hidden from the taste. However, it’s a slow sipper due to all of the malty sweetness.

Photo of DustinSmall
3.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured into a tulip glass

A-dark brown, amber, some copper tones along the curve of the glass, 1 finger head went away fast

S-Sweet malty, slight hop smell, but super sweet like beer bread, dark fruits

T- malty slight hop after taste, dark fruits like plum or something, boozy aftertaste kind of a let down after the nose on it

M- Average good carbonation, a little syrup like though

O- good beer, but i feel like its missing something

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.47/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter.

3.0 A: Medium brown color. Two fingers of frothy beige head. Retention is lacking, but the ABV on this will do that. No lacing.

3.5 S: Pleasant mix of caramel and fruits including fig, apple, plum, and apricot. There's also a notable spiciness to this, almost as if it were half Belgian. Booze is well hidden.

3.5 T: Again lots of fruit and caramel. Hints of toffee and toastiness. Surprisingly spicy again - maybe from the hops. There's also some herbal hop flavor. Booze is detectable, but well in check. Mildly bitter aftertaste.

3.5 M: Heavier body. Good moderate carbonation. Slightly chewy and reasonably smooth with a light creaminess.

3.5 D: Not a bad brew. Good nose and taste. I wouldn't want to drink this too often, but I'm glad I tried it.

Photo of DrDemento456
4.02/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Well I had to drink it eventually. Picked up a bottle at The Gateway Grill for $3.25 not bad for a massive old ale.

A - I poured hard to release any smells or flavors and got a half inch of opaque head atop of a hazy amber brown with sediment floaties throughout.

S - Actually quite impressed that there is not boozy notes in the smell. Dry cherries, figs, and caramel mostly. Smells kind of musky.

T - Pretty boozy but balanced as well. Drinks like a smooth sherry with a touch of wood and caramel flavors. Finish is sweet as well with a nice warming aspect.

M - Medium to heavy mouthfeel, not very creamy, but pretty smooth.

Overall this is actually quite good in fact very smooth without any age needed. May pick up a four pack since this is quite a good high gravity beer.

Photo of donkeyrunner
3.96/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark bourbon brown with a thin Georgia clay colored head. Foam is quick to flee and doesn't but up much of a foamy fight.

Smells like chocolate muffin, vanilla, fig and some restrained alcoholic allure. Fruity hard candy comes forth as it warms up.

Taste is appropriately complex for a 12% strong ale. Lots of chocolate. Contrary to other reviews I've read I found the booziness appropriately warming and not detrimental. As it warms some neutral hops emerge with fruit basket esters.

A beautifully complex and immersive beer. One of those beers that the sum of it's parts is greater than any particular thing I can pick out. Exactly what I'm in the mood for this snowy Saturday.

Photo of gabedivision
3.88/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured At Conlon's in South Buffalo.

Pours a deep reddish brown, dark chestnut color, with little to no head retention after the initial pour. Smells of deep Malt, brown sugar, slight toffee and chocolate notes. The taste is big on the malt, brown sugar, chocolate, vanilla, cherries, very sweet and tasty. This beer is intensely complex for an Altbier, lots of nice flavors floating around. Full bodied and rich on the feel. Overall this beer is great, very subtle 12% abv, was expecting more aggressive booze but not the case, very drinkable glad i had a chance to enjoy it.

Photo of JTSbeerislife
4.12/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Marked on neck 3080091311 (Bottled 9/13/11?), purchased 11/2011 and well stored.

12 oz bottle poured into a Dogfish Head Signature Snifter.

Pours a rapidly diminishing, light, tan colored/off white head with fair to good lacing.
The color is deep amber/brown, clean and clear of debris.

The aroma hits you with distinct, aggressive, spicy, herb and resin smelling hops followed by medium distinct malt with some depth, yeast, dried fruit, dark bread, and a slight medicinal quality finish.
The hops and malt battle for dominance but the hops win.

Crisp, somewhat aggressive entry on the palate of herbal resin flavored hops, bitter, spicy, distinct and long lasting. Medium sweetness but not overdone. The malt is pronounced, rich, yeasty and has a tinge of caramel. As the ale warms you do get a touch of alcohol but it is balance by the aggressive flavor profile. There is a distinct, crisp acidity, full body and fine carbonation.

Long bitter finish of hops and some malt. The hop oils linger forever.

This is a big ale. The resin and herbal hops are quite different, very powerful and aggressive, perhaps a little to much.
The 12% ABV is noticeable but well within the style of this big aggressive ale. At its best at 55 degrees when everything explodes from the glass. Wow. Points given just for the brewery to have the balls to produce something this unique and probably without broad appeal.
That being said it is very, very tasty.
Recommended though one is probably enough.

Photo of ppoitras
2.78/5  rDev -23%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

129oz bottle purchased as a single from somewhere localish probably.

Poured into a small Mayflower nonic, formed a 1/4" tan head over the slightly cloudy orangey brown brew. Thick skim of a head lasts well, with leggy, slow-falling lace. Aroma is sweet and strongly alcoholic.

Taste starts syrupy sweet, fruity in the middle, then bitterness and strong tannins take us to the close. Aftertaste and alcohol burn not particularly enjoyable. Mouthfeel is soft over the tongue, but then the tannins and booze rip off your tastebuds, and as such, drinkability is not so great. Not much of an anniversary party here in my mind.

Photo of pisano
3.97/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into tulip glass

a: pours a deep orange brown/dark caramel color with little to no head and some spotty lacing on the glass

s: caramel, dark raisins/prunes, brown sugar, some spices, slight booze

t: malty sweetness, dark fruits, the sweetness is well balanced by the hop bitterness. some dark bready notes on the finish. alcohol is well-hidden for a 12 percenter

m: medium body, moderate carbonation, a bit of alcohol burn at the back of the throat, as to be expected

o: this is my first time having this one and i really like it. thankfully i was able to get a four pack and i'm anxious to see how the other three do over time.

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Otter Creek 20th Anniversary Ale from Otter Creek Brewing / Wolaver's
82 out of 100 based on 193 ratings.