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Bourbon Abominable Winter Ale - Fremont Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Bourbon Abominable Winter AleBourbon Abominable Winter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

142 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 142
Hads: 836
Avg: 4.38
pDev: 18.72%
Wants: 451
Gots: 231 | FT: 31
Brewed by:
Fremont Brewing Company visit their website
Washington, United States

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: olympuszymurgus on 01-15-2010

Lovingly referred to by Fremonters as the B-BOMB, this bourbon barrel-aged edition of our winter ale has a warming spicy aroma and rich carmelly notes of bourbon, wood and vanilla added to dark roasty chocolatey malt flavors and subtle hopping.

Down & Dirty: 2-Row, Crystal-120, Munich, Roast Barley, Carafa-2 & Chocolate malts with Columbus, Willamette & US Goldings hops.

Aged in 15 year-old American oak whiskey barrels. Blend of 24 and 12 month-old bourbon aged Abominable Ale.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 142 | Hads: 836
Reviews by snaotheus:
Photo of snaotheus
4.04/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle of the 2013 vintage split between a pair of pint glasses. Poured side-by-side with the non-barrel-aged version.

Pours black and opaque, with small light brown head, and with low carbonation. Small head is fine. Smell is bourbon. Smoke and vanilla. Nutty. Alcohol. Dark fruit.

Taste is holy-shit fruity. Dates and cherries are raining from the skies. Sweetness is unbelievable, with a nice chocolate bitterness that isn't quite powerful enough to actual balance -- more of a muted counterpoint. Something about this hints at pomegranates. There is almost a cola flavor. This beer is very complex, although not everything is well integrated there is a lot of stuff going on here. It tastes pretty good, but it is godawfully interesting.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly light. Carbonation is apparently present but not very visible. It's definitely there, I can feel it.

This is more interesting than it is good, but it is quite good.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of SuperbikeShaun
5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of my top 3 bourbon barrel aged beers of all time.

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Photo of Vonerichs
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%

Dark and opaque mohagany. Mostly brown with the reddish hue showing up around the edges. Slight and brief sandy colored head.

Strong woodsy smell, like fresh cut oak, even a little cedar. Vanilla and coffee. Tobacco.

This is a 2013 vintage and still came strong with the big burn of booze. Oak, vanilla, butterscotch, coffee, leather.

Full and smooth mouthfeel with a boozy finish. Slightly dry on the back end.

A fantastic beer. Listed as an old ale but tastes like a top notch barreled barleywine.

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Photo of tectactoe
4.29/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Big thanks to whomever brought this one to the tasting! Pours a dark brown, might as well call this one black, topped off with a light-tan colored head that doesn't stick around for too long. The nose is full of bourbon and oak with an underlying, woody-vanilla sweetness. Some lighter tones of cocoa, toasted caramel, and sticky molasses. Labeled as a "strong ale" but this could easily pass as an English barleywine.

Creamy and silky bourbon is the first thing to hit the palate, and it comes off as more of a sweet bourbon flavor than a harsh one. Light plums and dark cherries lead the forefront of the fruits, playing atop the hefty malt backbone, complete with molasses, caramel, and some other sweet and syrupy flavors, maybe even a bit of burnt brown sugar. I start to pick up some dark and bittersweet cocoa flavors as this one goes on, too. Woody and oaky with a nice helping of wet bark in the aftertaste, right alongside the warm bourbon flavor. Silky and creamy on the palate, heavy bodied and lightly carbonated.

Devilishly smooth and easily drinkable, complete with the traditional flavors you'd expect from a BBA barleywine, though it's labeled as a "strong ale". Creamy bourbon and oak, along with a unique bittersweet cocoa flavor that comes into play.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A huge thanks to Jeff for this rarity. 22oz. waxed and capped bomber into a Founders snifter. Shared with schen9303.

Pours a luxurious, 1 finger coffee colored head with moderate retention. Beer is thick and pitch black. Lacing is spotty and thick with good stick. A nice looking brew.

Nose is chocolate, fudge, raisin, plum and sweet soy sauce covered with a molasses booziness. Deep, rich and very aromatic.

Opens dark fruit. Raisins, plum and prunes with layers of chocolate, fudge, molasses and sweet soy sauce. Rich, thick and decadent. Brownie and cocoa in the middle with a topping of molasses and bourbon heat. More dark fruit, leather and tobacco and wood at the finish with a sweet, peaty aftertaste. Phenomenal!

Full bodied with low carbonation. Thick and viscous in the mouth and goes down warm and hot. Finishes messy with a lingering, silky aftertaste. Awesome. Drinks huge, just like I like from the style.

This is as close to Bourbon County as I've had in a while. Thick, rich and decadent but not as boozy and sweet... which is a good thing. This beer is the real deal! Certainly worth seeking out.

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Photo of OldGriz
4.93/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

BBomb is the Bomb! Totally changed my mind about winter ales. I had it fresh from the tap, but I'm going to wait to open my bottle to see how it's changed. Cheers!

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Photo of Bosoxfan20
3.8/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown with a light tan head of less than a finger. Aroma of fine bourbon, chocolate, roasted malts, golding hops, and bready yeasts. Flavor is rich bourbon but incredibly smooth. Not the layers I preferred in C&C BBomb, but solid still. Sweet tones throughout. Drinks easy for 11%, but on the thin side.
Overall, this is a damn fine beer and no real need to age it as it is already pretty smooth. Much prefer the C&C though as that variant is unreal.

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Photo of LouZ
4.71/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from 22oz bottle; pours black with at least a finger of tan head that dissipates within a few minutes. Wonderful aroma of bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, and a fig or date smell that is reminiscent of a barleywine. Taste is delicious; you get a nice amount of bourbon but not overpowering. Other tastes of vanilla, caramel, subtle chocolate, and again that fruity/fig-like essence. Mouthfeel is full-bodied and smooth, nicely carbonated. Overall, this is a special treat that does not seem as big as it feels after imbibing 11oz of this toasty goodness.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.08/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

BOTTLE: 1 pint 6 fl oz. Nice yellow-khaki label art. Red wax-ed over pry-off crown cap. Brown glass.

11% ABV. 2014 vintage.

Expectations are high seeing as this is currently the #2 rated beer in all of Washington state. Served cold into an Avery snifter and allowed to come to temperature over the course of consumption. Reviewed live as a bourbon aged winter ale per the label; I guess that translates into the catch-all "American strong ale" category on this website.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: About 2.5cm wide. Khaki colour with a great shining complexion. No lacing sticks to the sides of the glass. Supple and creamy with an aptly thick consistency. Even and robust. Retention is above average for the high ABV - about 4 minutes.

BODY: Opaque solid black. Not an ink or jet black. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible.

Appears well-carbonated. Not unique or special looking.

AROMA: Heavy sweetness from molasses, dark malts, schwarz malts, caramel, chocolate malts, caramelized sugars, and crystal malts. Bourbon does make an appearance, but it's shallow in character, bringing only traces of bourbon-soaked wood to the table; no vanilla, no coconut, no whiskey spice, no rich white oak, no barrel sugars. I also don't pick up on the leather promised by the label, nor is there any coffee character or actual chocolate/cacao nibs (as is/are distinctive from mere chocolate malt).

Aromatic intensity is mild, but above average. There's some noticeable alcohol warmth, but it's not a boozy aroma. No hops, yeast, or off-notes are detectable.

TASTE: Definitely sweet, with the chocolate malt emphasis supported by notes of black strap molasses, heavy caramelized sugars, sticky crystal malt, black/schwarz malts, dark malts, and bourbon. The bourbon barrel presence is unimpressive but contributory, bringing notes of generic bourbon and barrel sugars, but no coconut, genuine vanilla, rich white oak wood, or toastiness. I think I find a hint of marshmallow?

The barrel doesn't melt seamlessly into the base, but it also doesn't eclipse the base beer. Those hoping for really vivid or deep notes of bourbon are best off searching elsewhere, but there are some decent elements at play here. It isn't balanced; I think it tries to juggle too many different notes and just ends up a soppy mess. The Frankenstein conglomerate of disparate flavours lends its build a messy vibe, and none of the notes bring much depth of flavour or nuance to the table.

To its credit, there's nothing off-style in play like overt hoppiness, off-flavours, or obvious yeast presence, but this leaves a lot to be desired. The label's promises of leather and coffee go unfulfilled, and the beer as a whole never tastes gestalt - though there is fair cohesion here.

Average flavour duration and intensity.

TEXTURE: Smooth, wet, warm (from alcohol presence), unrefreshing, thick, viscous, and slightly syrupy, with a sticky presence on the palate. To style, it's full bodied - but goes a bit overboard, bringing too much heft and weight to a beer whose shallow straightforward flavours don't demand it. It's just too heavy and filling. More of a delicate, creamy, silky, velvety, and soft mouthfeel would be ideal. Carbonation is off, to boot.

Not oily, gushed, astringent, harsh, rough, or scratchy.

Fails to elevate the beer as a whole. There's not a harmony of texture and taste.

OVERALL: If this is truly Washington's second best beer, I'm in no hurry to book a beer trip to Seattle. Surprisingly shallow and reticent - especially for a bourbon barrel aged beer - Bourbon BA Abominable lacks the intricacy, subtlety, and depth of flavour of superior beers in the style, and fails to deliver on the promises of its label and category. Those hoping for either a bourbon bomb or a tasty winter ale will be underwhelmed. And if you're thinking of drinking this alone, reconsider - I wish I had three friends on hand to help finish it. It's got all of the problematic characteristics of a winter ale - the heft, the filling full body, the alcohol warmth - but few of the benefits, and none of the deep bold flavours.

There's not much here for the discerning drinker, but hey - maybe I shouldn't have aged it? I'd give Fremont the benefit of the doubt if the label didn't encourage aging up to 5 years...

C+ (3.08)

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Photo of therackman
5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The finest beer I've ever tasted. Thank you Fremont.

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Photo of Houser
4.39/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

not the best looking beer ive seen poured out of the bottle, but a really dark, burnt orange. smells very boozy, singed my nostrils a bit. hints of chocolate and vanilla. taste is much more on the bourbon, lots of chocolate and vanilla. really digging these barreled strong ales.

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Photo of woemad
4.1/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz wax-dipped bottle purchased at the Total Wine on Spokane’s north side for $16.99.

Poured into an Iron Goat snifter, this was a muddy dark brown color, with ruby highlights and a creamy, dark tan head that left spidery lace on the sides of the glass.

Big, boozy aroma, with notes of cocoa and vanilla.

Big, boozy flavor, with quite a bit of alcohol heat. There are also tastes of vanilla, cocoa, chocolate and tobacco. This tastes like an imperial stout that is inclined toward the sweeter aspects of the style.

Sticky, coating mouthfeel.

If I hadn’t just recently had Spice Wars, I’d call this excellent. It’s still very good, but it doesn’t have the complexity or the smoothness of that beer. I’d be interested in getting another bottle or two and laying them down for a year or two and see what it’s like when it’s mellowed a bit.

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Photo of M_chav
4.58/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow this is a really well done beer. Initial thought as it hits my tongue is 'uncle jacobs' like. Which happens to be one of my favorite beers so that means I like it, I like it a lot. Very well balanced, not too much heat, lots of deep flavor and bourbon characteristics, creamy vanilla and sweet chocolate. The earthy, wood flavors hint in at the end - this is really good.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.68/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Served alongside Cinnamon & Coffee Bourbon Abominable. Near black body with a small beige collar. Rich aroma of bourbon and malts. Big time oak presence with lovely notes of both chocolate and vanilla. Absolutely delicious.

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Photo of MtnSoup
4.6/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2014 Version. Drinking really smooth despite the heat and recent vintage. I'd buy this again and again (if I could find it). Heat from the bourbon and abv is warming but not so overwhelming that you miss the notes of chocolate and some vanilla. Slightly sweet too (with dark brown sugar notes). Really delicious.

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Photo of ALC82
5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thoroughly enjoyed this Fremont release.... wow!

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Photo of DanGeo
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of CavemanRamblin
4.47/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of brownbeer
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of Schlais
4.25/5  rDev -3%

Photo of cjn40277
4.46/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of SanFranJake
4.66/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of SkiBum22
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of BubalooBrewMaster
4/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.91/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

From BeerAdvocate magazine Issue #61 (Feb 2012):

LOOK: Nearly pitch black

SMELL: Boozy, vanilla, wood, ripe cherries, rose water, vague spiciness, caramel, charcoal, mild coffee, molasses, burnt raisins

TASTE: Fresh barrel juice, pulling wood, vanilla, caramel, perfumey alcohol, warming, smooth, burnt sugar, more booze, ripe fruit, peppery, fresh, boozy semisweet finish

In a sea of bourbon barrel-aged beers that continues to trend, this one is above the middle of the pack. Smacks of that bourbon barrel it was aged in. Balances just enough, while still stirring the palate with interest. Damn tasty.

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Bourbon Abominable Winter Ale from Fremont Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 142 ratings.