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Bourbon Barrel Dark Ale (Winter Migration) 2010-2011 - Evolution Craft Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Bourbon Barrel Dark Ale (Winter Migration) 2010-2011Bourbon Barrel Dark Ale (Winter Migration) 2010-2011

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

39 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 39
Hads: 63
Avg: 3.92
pDev: 11.73%
Wants: 19
Gots: 24 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Evolution Craft Brewing Company visit their website
Maryland, United States

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: lackenhauser on 01-30-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 39 | Hads: 63
Photo of Thorpe429
3.77/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Amyliz4 for picking this up at Rick's last week. Served in a tulip.

Pours dark brown with a slight tan head that fades very quickly without leaving any lacing behind. Slight, slight collar, though that's about it. The nose brings forward quite a bit of booze (in a pleasant way) plus strong bourbon. Sweet malt, chocolate, and some vanilla come through as well. The flavor isn't quite as complex, landing mostly bourbon and some roasted malt. Touch of coffee as well. Feel is nice and heavy with a good amount of carbonation. Moderate booze, though not too much considering the ABV. Drinks pretty well. I continue to be fairly impressed by Evolution.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

brown with a large two inch plus head of foamy tan on top that only gradually decided to fade and nestled down into a layer of lace covering the top and the sides of the glass. The aroma was very interesting, it had a definite wine like character and the wood smell was defiantly a presence. Had a bit of a spiced note to it as well and also a bit of alcohol. The taste was very strong, with a lot of alcohol present in it. There was a very big presence of spice and oak barrel taste to it as well. A dry hop like finish tried to make itself known at the end, but never really got that far past the strong notes from the other flavors. Very nice medium to full body gave it a very sipper like quality

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Photo of oline73
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a goblet.

The beer is almost black except for some red at the edges when the light hits the pour. There is a small layer of tan head. The smell is sweet and full of dark fruit and lots of vanilla. I'm also getting some roast/dark chocolate, caramel, and bourbon that burns just a little bit. The taste is sweet and just a bit hot. The strong vanilla notes show up here, and I'm really digging them. Also getting some caramel and dark fruit. The finish is slightly bitter and warm from the alcohol. This is a thick beer with smooth, tingly carbonation. The vanilla notes from the bourbon barrels were very nice. I'd be happy to have more of this one.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.62/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for sharing this, Bobby.

A: Pours a very, very dark brown color that is nearing black. There is very minimal carbonation and no head to speak of.

S: Smells almost completely like bourbon and barrels. Lots of bourbon and vanilla, quite a bit of alcohol, but there are some good dark fruit notes hiding. I get a nice cherry and prune thing going on.

T: As barrel heavy as the nose was, I think the flavor is even more so. Bourbon, alcohol/heat, wood, and vanilla. A decent enough roasted malt flavor and a noticeable astringency.

M: The body is medium with a very low level of carbonation.

D: Not bad by any means, but completely overwhelmed by the barrel.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.81/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a flared pokal.

Big thanks to VDubb86 for sharing this bottle!

Bottle #963/1150. I missed the other seasons, but last Winter's a good enough place to start, right? This stuff pours a straight obsidian topped by a very short-lived bit of dirty tan foam. The nose comprises plenty o' bourbon, light oak, and light-ish roasted malts. The taste brings in more of the same, but with more roasted malts, some rich cocoa, some molasses, and a light twinge of coffee. Damn, this stuff is pretty tasty! The body is a solid medium, with a very light moderate carbonation and a silky smooth feel. Overall, a very nice brew, one that can easily stand next to many of the higher-rated barrel-aged stouts out there.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.6/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From 03/27/11 notes. Brought to a local DC RB tasting. Bottle 958 of 1150.

a - Pours a dark brown color with two inches of light tan head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of bourbon, vanilla, oak, roasted malts, toasted malts, chocolate.

t - Tastes of bourbon, oak, vanilla, hot alcohol, roasted malts. A bit hot, but still pretty good.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation, but a bit hot and harsh.

d - Overall this is a good beer, but it is still way too hot. I have another bottle of this one and I'm looking forward to opening it up in a few years. If I only had one bottle of this, I would recommend holding onto it for a bit longer.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from Wine Source. Served in a stange. Bottle #693 of 900.

A - Late-rising tan foam settles to a thin collar, some, wisps, and no lace. Body is a very dark brown with some transparency at the edges.

S - Bourbon, oaky vanilla, molasses, raisins, dark fruits, a touch of chocolate.

T - Taste isn't quite as good, with a bit too much wet oak and bourbon harshness mid-palate. The finish is nice, with notes of vanilla, chocolate, and molasses lingering on the palate.

M - Pleasant medium carbonation, medium body that seems a tad thin for the ABV, some warming alcohol, tannic texture mid-palate but with some lingering stickiness.

D - Not a bad beer for the first 6oz, but it'd be a might struggle to consume an entire 750ml bottle. I'd recommend sharing this with a few friends who really dig bourbon. I do like that it's quite a bit different from your typical barrel-aged stout, as it's pretty much devoid or roast flavors.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.26/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes 2/11/11.

A: Pours dark black with not head whatsoever. A small ring of bubbles formed around the outer edge.

S: Heavy bourbon! There is some nice vanilla, oak, and a little molasses. The alcohol is a bit present as well.

T: The bourbon is in the forefront. There are a lot of nice underlying flavors though. There was some oak, vanilla, and a little coffee. There was a little bit of tobacco too. The beer really opens up as it warms. The alcohol is present and burns a little, but in a good way.

M/D: Medium to heavy bodied with low carbonation. Pretty good drinkability considering the abv and style. I think that this beer will benefit from a little age, a nice bottle to split with a friend or two and sip on for a while.

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Photo of stakem
3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle # 465/1150 split with friends and poured into several snifters. The brew appears black with a thin tan head thats quick to receed. Some brown clarity is seen around the edges. Webby legs of lace stick to the glass and a mild froth holds around the edges.

The smell is full of barrel presence mostly coconut and vanilla sweetness with an accenting hint of caramel and cocoa. Some booze is noticed as it warms along with a mild touch of grain.

The taste is boozy but not overdone for the strength. Flavors of cocoa and roast mostly through the body with a hint of something mildly musty. Coffee, alcohol and raw oak come out more as the brew warms up.

This is a medium to light bodied brew with a light level of carbonation. It displays a very nice barrel presence but the base beer is quite mild but with a boozy kick. Overall not bad and worth a try.

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Photo of yourefragile
3.57/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2011 version on tap at the Judge's Bench. Served in a snifter.

Pours a flat, cola brown with a thin tan head that quickly fades leaving little lacing behind. Bourbon, raisin and oak dominate the nose with considerable heat. Extreme bourbon flavor throughout but not quite as boozy or unbalanced as expected. Stronger malt (roast) presence than the nose and tame dark fruits blend with the vanilla and oak bourbon flavors. Medium body, with low carbonation and a pleasant warming aftertaste. I like this more than my score indicates, and while the beer isn't completely out of balance, all I end up remembering is the bourbon and it fails to match the depth of better bourbon stouts.

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Photo of Gobzilla
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: poured a very dark brown almost black in color with brown highlights and had a very thin head leaving barely any lacing sticking to the glass.

S: lots of bourbon and booze were definitely showing their face on the nose with vanilla, roasty, and mild cocoa notes. It did have some toffee and slight coffee.

T: the bourbon booze character dominated the palate alongside toffee, caramel, vanilla, cocoa accents but had some slight roastiness and a touch of brown sugar.

M: the brew was medium in body with a very low amount of carbonation which had a sweet, bourbon boozy, mild oaky and silky finish.

D: definitely was a sipper but was tastier than expected. Good lookin out torino for crackin open this brew.

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Photo of John_M
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Max's last night. This was actually the 2011 Winter Migration version, but I can't see any reason to make a separate entry for it. Like the 2010 version, this was listed on the beer menu as a bourbon barrel aged dark ale.

The beer pours a fairly dark brown color with good head retention and lacing. The nose is just great in this beer, as I get noticeable bourbon, dark fruits (plum and and raisans mostly) and some light vanilla, with maybe a hint of chocolate. The flavor profile replicates the nose, but I was impressed by the balance in this beer. Nothing seemed to be out of preportion, and the bourbon flavor blended well with the dark fruits, vanilla and light chocolate. Mouthfeel was medium bodied, and the beer finishes well with no heat in the finish. Alcohol is very well integrated into the flavor profile, though you can tell it's up there a bit.

Just an excellent beer. Evolution really seems to have a knack when it comes to making bourbon barrel based beers, and this is no exception. Really wish this beer was more available over the winter months, but was told this was one of only 4 kegs sent to Baltimore from the brewery. So my guess is that this will be my only chance to try this excellent beer (I'm sure it will be long gone the next time I'm at Max's). That's a shame.

Note: Just sampled the 2012/2013 version of this beer, and have to say I really was not all that pleased. The beer smelled and tasted like a german dark beer, with lots of licorice and burnt toast, but with an underlying booziness from the bourbon as well. In combination, it just didn't work that well for me, especially on the palate (the beer was sweet and boozy, with the intermix of vanilla, licorice and bourbon just not working for me).

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Photo of Rhettroactive
4.19/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

From 750mL bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 9/20/11
*From notes

-- Thanks for sharing, Señor Siege! --

A: Rich velvety-brown to amber in color. A forceful pour yields zero head and zero lacing. Huh, that's odd.

S: It smells like a Barleywine-Stout hybrid. Really fantastic. Hints of bourbon and wood here add to what makes for a killer nose.

T: Raisinated, condensed fruit and toasty bourbon. It's at that point where the booze really starts honing in and finds balance with the body and origin of the beer. Dark cocoa and molasses round out the wonderfully complex flavor profile.

M: Really dissapointing. There's almost no carbonation to the brew, making for a signifigantly less pleasant drinking experience. As a result, the texture is a bit oily and off-putting.

O: Evolution has knocked another one out of the park with their 2010 Winter Migration. With the exception of the carbonation issue (which is not to be taken lightly), this is a massive win for one of my favorite up and comer's. I can't wait to see what they do next.

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Photo of THECPJ
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes:

Appearance: Dark brown black, with a lacing of head

Smell: Boubon, vanilla, oak, molasses

Taste: bourbon, vanilla,

mouthfeel: no carbonation almost flat, smooth

Drinkability: If you like bourbon this would be right up your alley. After talking to some of the brewers at EVO they said give it another year and it should be at it's peak.


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Photo of champ103
2.73/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A friend shared a bottle with me and some other BA's.

A: Pours a dark brown, nearly black. An inky, viscous appearance. A one finger tan head forms, and recedes in a second. Not much lace is left.
S: Big boozy notes right off the bat. Charred wood, smoke. Some vanilla. Very harsh alcohol burns the nose.
T: Follows the nose. Basically just some barrel flavors. Lots of alcohol, burnt wood, charcoal, light smoke. Some vanilla sweetness. Burning alcohol all the way.
M/D: This has a lighter body than I would like. The base beer is way to thin and under carbonated for the bourbon barrel. Very hard to sip on. Burning alcohol that did not go down easy at all.

This is way to unbalanced. To much alcohol and to much barrel. I am not sure if a few years would help to mellow this out considering the thin body of the base beer. Not something I would recommend.

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Photo of maximum12
4.39/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to beandip, who sent this Minnesota-bound in another good trade, this one centered around Evolution. This is a sleeper brewery in my book; have been really looking forward to tying into this one. Bottle 163 of 1150 split with my wife on the eve of a Lake of the Woods fishing trip. Walleye here we come!

But first, beer. Pour is dead black, close to pancake-flat. The smell, though, reaches out of the barely cracked bottle & seizes me by the pantaloons. Bourbon! Smells like victory! Tangled up in the barrel is a mash-up of sweetness: maple syrup & vanilla, maybe. If this is foreshadowing, I like it.

Migration not only tastes like liquid good, it's strangley different than your run-o-the-mill barrel-aged experience: lighter than a stout, not as harsh as a strong. Smooth, it moseys along the taste buds with thumbs hooked in its belt, smiling. Bonus points for originality. Oh, what's it taste like? The bourbon is laid on thick, but with style & grace. Underneath are the registry of odors: the sweetness, fine syrups, vanilla, resting on a bed of nice malt with hints of roast to it. Awesome. Low carbonation, but drinks like a champ.

Excellent barrel-aged beer that veers off the beaten path a bit. Would that a few others follow in its path. Worth having once, twice, or as often as possible.

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Photo of FosterJM
4.2/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1527th Review on BA
Bottle to Goblet

2011 Vintage
Bottle 64/900

Thanks Mdaschaf for this one.

App- A good mix of crimson and browns in the glass. Only a small 1/2 finger fast receding brown head. No cling or lace.

Smell- A whole ton of candy aromas on this one. Sweet sugars, burnt caramel, vanilla and oak. Bourbon comes last. The booze is quite prevelant and prickly.

Taste- Well isnt this like a dessert in a glass!! A whole ton of vanilla and bourbon with some slicker malts. The whole depth of flavor is tasty and has a ton of prickliness behind it. Seemingly one sided with sweetnesss but damn tasty.

Mouth- A full on medium body with a medium dense carbonation. Lots of prickly residual flavors with good Vanilla and Bourbon.

Drink- Sometimes you need a bourbon barrel 750. Tonight was that night. Semi smooth and little rich and plenty of bourbon. Hit the spot. Thanks Matt.

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Photo of DrinkSlurm
4.23/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 vintage.
Poured from tap into snifter. Pours a dark thick brown with a tan foamy head.
Smells of dried raisons, malty chocolate. Taste is spectacular. This is what I like in a strong ale. Oak, chocolatey, raison...slight malty backbone. What I like about this is the fact that its spectacular and still available. A lesser known brew that really shines.
This is a very good brew. Worth seeking out..I would even say essential.

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Photo of Florida9
3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Very dark brown, approaching black, in color. Forms a smallish light tan head around the edges. No lacing. Appears flat.

S: Oak, wood, bourbon and some lighter vanilla notes.

T: Tastes of roasted malts blended with lots of bourbon. Vanilla and a light caramel sweetness. Some fusel spice on the finish.

M: Full bodied with lower carbonation levels. Mild bitterness. Mild warming from the alcohol on the finish.

O: A good beer. Rather well balanced and quite drinkable.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.32/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle 963/1105

A: pours flat with black appearance, brown highlight, 0 head

S: I get some buttery notes up front followed by boozy bourbon, not getting much roast or chocolate in the nose, notes of vanilla and wood come into play as well

T: vanilla and bourbon up front, the body is kind of thin without much malt backbone, somewhat sweet

MF: thin body, low carbonation, a little tingly on the palate

O: this brew has a nice flavor and decent balance, however it is very one note. Worth a try.

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Photo of siege06nd
3.6/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter...

A: Pours a dark black with a finger of light brown bubbly head. Spotty and thin lacing down the sides. Retention is good, with some creamy swirls dotting the top of the brew.

S: Wow, looots of bourbon. A little bit of vanilla and caramel and then some very faint chocolate and coconut. Also some nice dark fruit. Bourbon is pretty dominant, but as it warms, the other notes start to come out.

T: Like the nose, it's very bourbon heavy and slightly imbalanced. There's some nice chocolate, caramel, vanilla, and dark fruit to even things out slightly, but the bourbon is just a bit over the top. Good woody finish with some booze heat and some caramel.

M: Solidly carbed and full-bodied, but balance is decidedly lacking. Bourbon is just way too far out in front here. I can detect the other flavors in the background which makes me think that this could have been an excellent strong ale, but it's just too boozy at this point.

O: A booze bomb, truly drinks like bourbon with a little bit of porter mixed in. The heat is fairly well-tempered, but the bourbon qualities just overwhelm everything and produce a slightly tannic, somewhat flabby overall profile here. That being said, some excellent flavors are roaming around the background, they are just completely buried by whatever barrel was used to age this. This already has about 5 months on it and I think it needs at least another 9 months before it may calm down some. I will be taking the last two bottles I have of this and burying them somewhere in the back of my closet to see what becomes of them with some age. It's not a bad beer, just very one dimensional. Slightly disappointed by this special release from a brewery that has been "can't miss" for me for some time.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My buddy from DC snagged a bottle of this for me over the holidays, so we got to crack it open. It pours a dark brown or black and is completely opaque. The brown head is fairly large and solid looking. The retention and lacing are both nice.

The aroma has a ton of bourbon and good bit of wood to it. Lots of dark malts come through as well, with some dark fruit too.

Sweet bourbon notes come through immediately, followed by a bevy of barrel characteristics. Light char, spicy oak and a little bit of both vanilla and coconut are all noticeable. The barrel doesn't necessarily overwhelm the beer, but it does provide the dominant flavors. The yeast is surprisingly active, adding some dark fruit and some spice; it almost tastes like there is a Belgian yeast thrown in here, but I think it is just a really active ale yeast. The malt is smooth and chocolatey, and rounds things out nicely in the finish. There is a little bit of heat in the back end.

There is a little bit of warmth and just the right amount of carbonation. The body is medium to a touch below.

Evolution does some great things with barrels, and I want to try everything they do. Winter Migration is no exception, with a nice blending of barrel and beer flavors.

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Photo of lackenhauser
4.39/5  rDev +12%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The first in Evolution's Migration series. Limited to 1150 bottles. Somewhat muddy at first pour. Very, very dark-ok I will call it black. Low caronation head wise but seems lively enough. Big bourbon nose right upfront. Boozy, oakey. Big bourbon flavor to begin with. Mild smokey and almost a charcoal flavor. Faint vanilla against a definate oak presence. Definately enough alcohol to be recognized. Mild roasted coffee. Some sweetness in the finish. Great mouthfeel. The booziness adds a nice, subtle burn. A great beer overall. The whole package really falls into place for me. I hate to be biased as they are my local but man this one is hit right out of the park. Great, GREAT stuff!

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.29/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a snifter at the Cantwell's Tavern EVO beer dinner on 2/27/12. Not sure what bottle this was from, but it was definitely the 2011 version.

A: This one poued out a dark, dark brown. No head except for a ring around edges. What's there is light tan colored. Very faint on the carbonation from the looks of it. Definintely some alcohol feet.

S: The nose on this is delicious: vanilla, bourbon, and oak. Doesn't smell boozy at all.

T: I pulled some dark fruits right away: plum, raisin, prune, etc. Then lots of vanilla and oak and roast and caramel and toffee. The warming only helps the flavors come out even more. Delicious.

M: Full bodied and light on the carbonation, but it's just enough.

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Photo of Greywulfken
4.16/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Winter 2012 bottling
#584 of 1400

A: stout black but with translucent dark brown edges into tulip, large dark foam head settled quickly into nothingness, leaving no trace of lace behind

S: bourbon and vanilla, dark malt and musty dark fruit

T: charred wood, molasses, bourbon, and dusky dark fruits; vanilla and wilted plum, hints of semi-sweet cocoa, faint coffee; low bitterness

M: slick and oily, medium weight, slightly sticky in the corners of the mouth, mild carbonation

O: a very smooth drinking beer, the bourbon added nice class and character without being overpowering; had many stout-like qualities - nice blend of fruit and chocolate tones.

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Bourbon Barrel Dark Ale (Winter Migration) 2010-2011 from Evolution Craft Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 39 ratings.