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The Angel's Share - Brandy Barrel-Aged - The Lost Abbey

Not Rated.
The Angel's Share - Brandy Barrel-AgedThe Angel's Share - Brandy Barrel-Aged

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very good

642 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 642
Reviews: 417
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 20.1%
Wants: 180
Gots: 170 | FT: 10
Brewed by:
The Lost Abbey visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale |  12.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Jason on 04-23-2008

Down in Kentucky and across the pond in Scotland, distillers who age their whiskeys for many years refer to the evaporation of the spirits from their barrels as “The Angel’s Share.” We couldn’t agree more. Each time a barrel is filled, a measure of liquid seeps into the oak and is lost for good.This striking Strong Ale is brewed with copious amounts of Caramel malt to emphasize the vanilla and oak flavors found in freshly emptied bourbon or brandy barrels. The beer spends a year in oak before it is packaged for release.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 642 | Reviews: 417
Photo of Sammy
4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Chocolate rules! Here is a barleywine well malted by the includion of quality chocolate, and must lead to an increase in score. Because of the darker look, the sweeter chocolate smell, and of course the Hershey chocolate taste with brandy from the barells. Above average mouthfeel. Better more complex barleywines, Belgiums? Of course. A very expensive choice of $70 bomber all-in at Beerbistro.

Photo of t0rin0
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.96/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to AndrewK for sharing this one at his tasting.

2009 vintage.

Pours an almost opaque brown-black with no head and no lace. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, raisins, dark fruits, vanilla, brandy, and wood. Taste is much the same with an alcohol kick on the finish and a woody aftertaste that lingers after each sip. This beer has a low level of carbonation with an almost flat mouthfeel. Overall, this is good beer that smells better than it tastes. I just wish the carbonation level was better.

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of zestar
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of acurtis
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%

Photo of Texasfan549
2.5/5  rDev -34.7%

Photo of GRG1313
2.38/5  rDev -37.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Tasted shortly after release 2009 and was very disappointed by one of the most expensive ales on the market. Post tasting discovered that Lost Abbey supposedly has said that despite it's release it "must be aged" at least another six months! What's that about? They released it and are now stuck with the results. (I will, admittedly, taste it again at least 6 months from now and probably even later).

However, perhaps it shouldn't have been released and would have benefited from age at the brewery. Pours brown with no head. Thick carmel and malt nose and pours and feels thick in the glass (a good thing). Big body with bold and somewhat unpleasant flavors of burnt carmel and toffee with tons of malt. A big ripe apricot flavor and character with some sour possibly brettanomyces characteristics. Thick sweet malt flavors with sour undertones.

Very light, almost non-existent carbonation. All in all, not very pleasant. Will try again in the future. Lost Abbey is going to be stuck with these kinds of reviews and conclusions if it releases beer unreasonably early. Just my opinion.

Photo of kjkinsey
2.5/5  rDev -34.7%

Photo of Thorpe429
4.19/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

375mL bottle (2009 edition) shared by bmanning at a recent tasting.

A: Dark brown with very little head. Some head after a bit of agitation.

S: Brandy, oak, dark sugars, dark fruits, and a bit of alcohol. Very nice complexity.

T: Very similar to the nose, but a little heavy on the alcohol at this point. A greater emphasis on the brandy than in the nose.

M: Didn't really have any carbonation issues--this one fits about right considering the style and alcohol level. A bit boozy, my only complaint at this point.

D: Very drinkable for how hot it was. Nice and complex, this is a good one to savor for a while.

Photo of olradetbalder
4.25/5  rDev +11%

Photo of brentk56
3.03/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

2008 Bottling

Appearance: As others have noted, this looks like prune juice, not beer - no carbonation at all

Smell: The best attribute of this beer, as the lack of carbonation has no impact; the boozy element hits the nostrils right away, with a little bit of burn; underneath is the dark fruit (prune juice, perhaps) and brandy

Taste: Prune dominated dark fruit, with raisins and molasses, up front; by mid-palate, they oak and brandy elements rise to the fore and linger after the swallow

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body and flabby, with no carbonation but plenty of warmth

Drinkability: The flavors are enjoyable but this beer seems to be heading downhill, not only from the lack of carbonation, but from the effects of oxidation; such a pity that the carbonation issues across so many of the Lost Abbey beers have compromised the brewery's reputation but they chose economics over reputation

Note: I am now drinking the 2009 on 4/1/11 and have gotten over the lack of carbonation and decided just to focus on the flavors. While I am going to leave the ratings from the 2008 alone, I have to say that I am rather enjoying the taste of this one. The port-like character of the aroma and the taste is enticing and, while there is some booziness, it has mellowed into a flavorful melange.

Photo of ygtbsm94
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of BEERchitect
4.54/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The much anticipated and heavily scrutinized beer finally sits in my chalice and begging to be drank.

Without over doing it, the beer can be summed up with words like port, chocolate, raisons, plumb, cherries, rum, licorice, apples, figs, dates, nuts, berries, vanilla, caramel, sorgum, grapes, anise, currant, pepper, vineous, woodsy, nutty, bready, candied, whisky... the descriptors can go on and on.

What makes this beer special is the well aged, sherry notes that become the thread that weaves in and out of all of the characteristics of the beer and ties them together. The beer harks to the beers of Sam Adams, in the Utopia and Tripple Bock. Extreamily candies and rum-soakes fruits throughout. Dehydrated fruits of pineapple, cherries, and raisons remind me of an alcoholic fruit cake.

Complex and surreal throughout, this is a unique and unforgettable drinking experience. The beer has a mystical quality about it that goes well beyond beer and into an experience of after dinner wines and brandies- imagine that. The high, and boozy, alcohols don't bother me as they only lead to added complexity, strength and boldness in this beer that strives to behave more like a liquor than a beer.

Sure the recent controversy about the carbonation level has come up and with a lot of dissatisfaction. This beer wasn't carbonated to my liking, but wasn't flat either- perhaps somewhere in between. It may cause the beer to take a hint on the appearance and mouthfeel, but the meat and potatoes of the beer hold firm. This beer ranks up there with the Utopias, J.W. Lee's, and Thomas Hardy's of the world. A truely unique beer. Thanks to Lost Abbey for the challenge of the palate!

Thanks to Adamdc! Rock on Rockstar!

Photo of SocalKicks
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of Phyl21ca
2.3/5  rDev -39.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Bottle: Poured a deep murky brown color ale with no head whatsoever. Aroma of of alcohol vapor with some gross residual sugar. Taste is overly dominated by brandy notes with some sweet sugary malt with an almost gross feel. Body is full with no carbonation and strong alcohol showing. I know the issue this beer had with carbonation but the fundamental issue are bigger then only carbonation - way too much alcohol is showing even though I understand beer as been barrel-aged with a lack of complexity. I must admit that this example is definitely over-hyped and fall well below my expectations.

Photo of Knapp85
3.57/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I managed to get a really generous discount on a bottle of this brew one night from a guy I became friends with who was a server at a bar I really enjoy. He ended up only charging like $14 for a bottle of this that on the menu should have been almost $40.

Anyway we opened the bottle and it was poured into a wine glass, fitting for this brew because it looked just like a dark red wine as it poured out. The beer had no head on it at all. The smell was very rich with lots of sweet boozy aromas. We drank this one slowly trying to savor everything we could in this. The flavors of sweet brandy and the dark malts gave this beer a very unique flavor. The mouthfeel was a little flat and didn't really spark my interest too much... It finished with a dry aftertaste and was a little on the boring side I thought. Overall I'd like to try it fresh, not sure how old the bottle was that we had but I would enjoy having it right from the brewery.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.6/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Burnt pecan shell brown that becomes dark blood red when backlit with bright sunshine. The golden brown sugar colored crown looks fantastic despite the 11.5% ABV. It's firmly creamy, is melting in slow motion and is beginning to deposit an attractive king's crown of sticky lace. In a word... gorgeous.

It was obvious on cork extraction that this is special beer. I'm reminded of a BSDA without the estery Belgian yeast and with a ton of oak barrel character. Knowing The Lost Abbey, that may be exactly what was intended. Each inhale delivers a dizzying array of darkness that includes roasted barley, dark chocolate, dark caramel, dark fruit and vanilla.

The Angel's Share is remarkable beer that tastes even better than it smells. And it smells damn good. First of all, if you aren't thrilled with beer that has been aged in barrels that previously held spirits, you probably won't like it. There's a tremendous amount of brandy character that is almost as warming as the real stuff. I need to continue to sip in order to finish this review with some coherence. It won't be easy.

The major flavors are a perfect combination of a world-class BSDA with a world-class RIS. It isn't quite as roasted as the latter, but it's close. The complexity of the flavor profile is mind-boggling: dark caramel, dark brown sugar, bittersweet chocolate, molasses, a big splash of Sambuca, dark rum-soaked raisins, crushed vanilla beans and... bourbon? I'm 100% sure that this 750 ml bottle is the brandy-aged version, but I'll be damned if it doesn't taste like Kentucky's finest.

It's a good thing that the alcohol, rather than being completely hidden, is right up front. After all, we're not talking about the grain alcohol-like flavor that one might taste in a fresh American barleywine, but the oak-infused goodness of a quality liquor. Big, big difference. The warming glow that has bloomed in my belly is beginning to spread outward and is approaching the tips of my fingers.

It's a mystery how this beautiful brew will age. Probably very well. I tried to hold off on opening it, but couldn't resist even one more day. Warming doesn't change much, other than amplifying what goodness was already present. Then again, the flavor was pretty close to perfect right from the first sip.

The mouthfeel isn't quite perfect. Like everything else about this beer, though, it's close. Slightly more fullness and crushed velvet creaminess needs to be present for the ultimate score to be granted. Nitpicking? Probably. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the amount and quality of the carbonation.

This insanely delicious ale is a masterpiece of the brewer's art. If it isn't the best American strong ale on the planet, then I'd love to know what is. The Angel's Share (Brandy) may be heavenly, but this bottle is mine, all mine. Let the angels get their own damn beer. Talisker deserves my undying gratitude for agreeing to part with one of his bottles.

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.25/5  rDev +11%

Photo of mikesgroove
4.65/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

750ml bottle served at 50 degrees and poured into gold rimmed New Belgium Snifter

A - Poured a very dark brown, nearly opaque with only the slightest bit of light coming through on both the sides and the bottom of the glass. Very rich color, with slight reddish tints, but mostly just a deep russet brown. A smallish maybe one finger high head of gold and tan colored foam rose up from the bottom and lay across the top of the glass like a pillow. This settled down eventually, but left behind a thin film covering the top and very nice side glass lace. The side glass presentation was a bit remarkable in that it almost had a gold shine to it as it swirled around, very nice looking.

S - The aroma was huge, and full of alcohol from the first whiff. I did not think this would be coming off as strong as it did. Lots of wood and oak like aroma mixed in as well. I had to let this one sit and warm up to see what else was going to be coming through from it. The next whiff was much more complex then the first. Lots of oak notes still underlying, however these were now being layered in with a good bit of dark fruity notes, plums, or raisins perhaps. Still a touch hot from the aroma, as the alcohol was very discernable. There was definitely some spiciness to it as well, like a good spiced rum smell almost. Very dark and complex, I was getting the feeling that this one was going to put a hurting on me.

T - So I build it up and dive in for a taste. I had waited a long time to try this one, and I was not disappointed. Avery robust and full flavor profile, this was definitely one to sit down and think about as you go through it. A full on blast of spiced alcohol was the first thing that I noticed, kinda hot, but as it warmed it mellowed out and by the end of the session had all but blended into the background and simply become an outstanding ale. Loads of dark fruit notes were permeating through the flavor. Prunes, Raisins, Figs all very discernable in the flavor and really adding balance to it as they melded together. Lots of spice here as well, very big. The notes of oak and wood in the flavor were clearly becoming evident as it warmed, giving it a very subtle, yet very powerful presence. I can see why people rave about this; it is very unique, very dark, and very seductive almost. The flavor really needed some time to catch up with you, the first few sips were nothing compared to the last few, really outstanding I have to say and very different then anything I had in the past.

M - Super smooth and creamy, this medium bodied ale was just about perfect in the way it should have felt. Great carbonation profile throughout the session really never let up and gave it that silky smoothness that really lets the flavor pop and keeps it from getting too heavy. In fact it was really not filling at all, despite how big it was it was excellent as far as that.

D - Now if there was ever something designed to be sipped, this was it. I mean it was tremendous, and to be honest, I did not share and took care of this bottle on my own over the course of about 3 hours. It was just amazing how well it tasted. I thought in the beginning it was going to be a little too hot, but that was my fault for serving too cold, or being to anxious take your pick. But after letting this come up in temperature, it turned into one of the best I have ever had, really a tremendously good beer.

Overall I really loved this one. Now I have not really had anything from Lost Abbey that I have not liked, but this and Devotion on back to back nights have really taken this thing to a while new level. The complexity displayed in the is uncanny and I really had a touch time with this review, as I am not usually at a loss for words with my reviews, but this one had me there, it was just that good. I really look forward to the Brandy and Bourbon barrel aged editions later this year; they will truly be breathtaking as I can only imagine the heights to which this one will get.

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.37/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

bottle from 2008 is drinking extremely well right now. tried side by side with cuvee de tomme, a once in a lifetime opportunity. dark brown in color, sludgy thick, very little visible carbonation. a nose like a fine cognac, with warming but not caustic alcohol intensity. lots of layered sugars and spices here from vanilla to clove to nutmeg to brown butter richness, this has a whole lot going on. i get some nice oak sweetness and mellowness in there too, but to me this is a little less interesting than the bourbon barrel edition, which stands as one of my favorite beers of all time. the brandy flavors have maybe worn off a bit with age, so i get the oak and the booze without all the flavor i got from the bourbon barrel. still. the angels share is a ridiculous beer in its own right, so i have no complaints really at all. smooth as velvet with warming booze, almost no carbonation, but it isnt missed. a little goes a long way here with this incredibly rich and strong flavor experience.

Photo of womencantsail
4.37/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Tomme for replacing a flat bottle for me with a re-conditioned one. I appreciate the gesture and hopefully it will help to get some people to open up to LA again.

A: The pour from the cork and caged bottle is a dark, dark brown color with some highlights and a ring of tan foam. There was indeed a nice pop upon opening the bottle, but not too much in the way of visible carbonation.

S: This is definitely not for the faint of heart. A rich, chocolatey aroma with lots of brandy notes and also a bit of oak and sugar.

T: The flavors follow the nose for the most part. The brandy is very prominent on the front end but quickly fades to a combination of chocolate, brown sugar, and a slight oakiness on the finish.

M: A low level of carbonation on the tongue, but it really lends the beer a silky and full feel on the tongue.

D: I want to keep drinking this, but I also don't want to fall on my face. A great strong ale in that it hides the alcoholic burn, but it's present enough to remind you what you're drinking.

Photo of largadeer
4.69/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

'06 vintage on tap at The Bistro's barrel-aged beer fest. Had a few glasses of this one.

Appearance: Dark ruddy amber, a bit hazy. The small tan head disappears pretty quickly, leaving a speckling of lace.

Smell: Smells of dried fruit, toffee, figs, vanilla and molasses with an undercurrent of brandy.

Taste & mouthfeel: Caramelly malt, chocolate, caramelized figs, raisins. Medium-full in body with low carbonation. Vanilla beans, subtle tannins, this has a pretty up-front barrel character. The brandy version is distinctly different from the bourbon barrel variety, namely in the vinous, fruity nuance that the brandy barrel lends the beer. Delicious stuff.

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

750ml bottle of the 2007 Angel's Share. A release, I'm told, is rather prone to...well, some issues. Let's hope this little rendezvous is issue-free (at least for the next half hour)!

Appearance: Pours a dark brown body with a thinnish, wispy, beige-hued head.

Smell: Lightly sweet-smelling, particularly fruit nose smelling of homemade jams and marmalade dosed with sugars, booze, and dusky wood notes.

Taste: A sweet (initially) swirl of dark fruits, spiced fig jam, graham cracker crumbs, vanilla sugar, and particularly punchy oak tannins. Very meager hints of roast. A small sprinkling of dark brown sugar and lightly smoked fresh grains. Faint earthy bitterness perceived midway. More puckering oak tastes as it is unwavering. Tablespoon of belly-warming, soul-pleasing brandy. Touch of earthiness in the semi-sweet finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium-low carbonation.

Drinkability: For me, it wasn't quite deserving of the perceived inflated hype and permissive praise, nor was it one of the accused, loathsome issue-prone bottles. So, I hit happily somewhere in the middle -- a fine beer to accompany me through a few episodes of House and catching up on my e-mail.

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The Angel's Share - Brandy Barrel-Aged from The Lost Abbey
86 out of 100 based on 642 ratings.