Bourbon Abominable Winter Ale - Fremont Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Bourbon Abominable Winter AleBourbon Abominable Winter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

135 Reviews
very good

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Reviews: 135
Hads: 809
Avg: 4.37
pDev: 18.99%
Wants: 442
Gots: 227 | 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: 135 | Hads: 809
Photo of kojevergas
3.08/5  rDev -29.5%
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 gibgink
4.5/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Share with friends. Poured 3-4 oz tastes 2-3 times. Pours dark brown/black with good carbination throughout. Smells of subdued bourbon. There is a pleasant sweet bourbon taste, with notes of vanilla and toffee. Would highly recommend picking up.

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Photo of notchucknorris
4.7/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2013 Bottle
A: Pours a rich, dark chocolate color with a one finger khaki colored head that settles pretty quickly.

S: Nearly perfect. Tons of rich dark chocolate, chocolate cake, brownie and bourbon barrel. Charred oak, toffee, honey, a bit of raisin and maybe just a bit of day old coffee ground.

T: This beer doesn't play fair. Just envelops your tongue with sweet chocolate and bourbon flavors that just pop in your mouth. Milk chocolate, fudge, caramel, the slightest bit of harshness from the bourbon, toffee and pure Milk Duds on the finish. The mouthfeel started a touch light for me, but as the beer warms, it seems to toughen up and it really holds up all the flavors well without becoming syrupy at all. One of the best beers I've ever had.

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Photo of rogerdandy
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is a great beer. Not as good as its big brother coffee and cinnamon abominable but still really fucking good. It's super hard to brew really well done barley wine but Fremont is on to something with the Abominable line.

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Photo of BeerBrose
4.04/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: Dark Black with a tan leathery head, light lacing.

Smell: Big booze, spices like cinnamon and clove maybe even some licorice. Sweet sugar.

Taste: Sweet caramel, cinnamon, licorice and coffee. Lots of noticeable booze and bourbon. Nice balance through the myriad of flavors.

Feel: Heavy malt body with little carbonation, but just enough to float the flavors around your mouth. Sticky.

Overall: Very good beer and great representation of the style.

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Photo of ramay86
4.11/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage:

As dark a beer as you could imagine with a stubborn, creamy khaki head.

Bourbon is very evident on the nose, but the beer beneath reminds me very much of Before the Dawn - roast, vinousness, molasses, chocolate. Nice.

Lots of the same flavors come through on the palate - some spice and brown sugar, chocolate, some dry sweetness, definite bourbon... kind of an odd finish. Nothing off-putting about it. I can't say it's like anything I've tried before.

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Photo of Bosoxfan20
3.8/5  rDev -13%
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 papat444
4.24/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 Vintage

Pours a musty brown color with a very thin head. Aroma of toffee and bourbon. So incredibly chewy with a prolonged feel from start to finish.

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Photo of Houser
4.39/5  rDev +0.5%
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 n2185
3.7/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours black with a finger of brown head that fades into a frothy ring with decent lacing.

S: Vanilla, toffee, caramel, and bourbon dominate with raisin and dark fruit aromas along with some molasses and oak.

T: Vanilla, toffee, and caramel dominate here as well. Oak and boozy bourbon come through with a fair amount of raisin and molasses flavor before a moderately boozy finish.

M: Thick, sticky sweet body with low carbonation, this beer is heavy, syrupy, and boozy.

O: A solid beer, overall. It's a bit more raisin-y and boozy than I'd like, but still enjoyable. Definitely a very long sipper.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.87/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pour is black with a good bit of camel colored head and some large bubbles. Nose is really nice, tons of rich wood and bourbon that melds well with a rich dark chocolate cake malt, a light roast, and a bit of caramel. Flavor is very rich up front, body is very full. Bourbon is a bit stronger, still has a lot of rich cake like malt, dark chocolate, faint roast but not as balanced as the nose. Back end thins on the flavor, gets a hint empty in back, some malt sweetness comes in as it warms. Nose is great, flavor falls a touch short, still very nice.

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Photo of OldGriz
4.93/5  rDev +12.8%
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 flagmantho
4.23/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 22oz waxed bomber into my Fremont globe. This is the 2014 edition.

Appearance: opaque black with a thin layer of creamy tan foam with a nice lace. Not bad at all, if I do say.

Smell: strong malt aroma with lots of caramel character. Sweet and vanilla-ey with plenty of bourbon to fill the voids. Very good indeed.

Taste: whoo, sweet and caramelly with plenty of boozy bourbon to fill it out. Vanilla and oak character are present, as you might expect. This is a very good beer, although it's run-of-the-mill as far as bourbon strong ales go (if that's even a thing?).

Mouthfeel: medium-rich body with a moderate carbonation. The thickness of the body goes a long way, though.

Overall: I like this beer a lot; it is very good for the "bourbon-barrel strong" category. I would love a dash more character -- which gets delivered in the cinnamon/coffee edition.

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Photo of tclipse
4.15/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A little too hot for my liking, otherwise it was very good. Probably not something I would seek out again unless it were sitting on a shelf, but I am glad to have tried it.

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Photo of brandonwnw
4.98/5  rDev +14%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Sets the standard for BA strong ales. Delicious with a very strong bourbon flavor profile. If I could afford to drink this more often, I'd be an alcoholic. - Cheers

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Photo of spoony
4.18/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

From a 650 ml bottle (2014 Vintage) to a tulip. My bottle is labeled "Bourbon Barred Aged Abominable Winter Ale," but I'm pretty sure this is the right stuff.

A-Dark color for a strong ale; almost black. The head is dense and mocha in color. My average pour produces about two fingers of foam. Retention is better than expected for a beer at 11% ABV.

S-The aroma hits me first with suggestions of dark berry fruit (boysenberry and blackberry). I also get some milk chocolate, lots of caramel, some tobacco, molasses, and pretty intense bourbon-boozy warmth. Oak is also noticeable as the beer warms.

T-The taste is less fruity and more caramel forward than the smell. The is aggressively boozy with lots of barrel notes coming through. Flavors suggest molasses, brown sugar, tart berries, and tobacco. As the beer warms I get some pepper and dry oak tannin flavors.

M-The body is on the thick side; almost chewy at times. Stout like. Carbonation is very mild and smooth.

O-This is a tasty beer. It straddles the line between stout and strong ale. Don't drink this looking for hops because you wont find any. I liked the chewy feel, some may think it is too think. A very new new world beer.

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Photo of M_chav
4.58/5  rDev +4.8%
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 MtnSoup
4.6/5  rDev +5.3%
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 OneEye78
4.4/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 2014 dated bomber into a snifter. Pours like a stout, with a deep black body and a finger of khaki head. Nose of brown sugar, vanilla, oak and booze. Taste was brown sugar, vanilla, and a chocolate covered cherry finish. It was a little light in the mouth, but still satifying. Overall this was an outstanding beer. In the same class as parabola and bcbs.

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Photo of terabin
3.98/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

What boots this rating down for me a little bit is that the mouthfeel is quite cloying and syrupy. The flavor is good overall: love the bourbon vanilla but it is a bit sweet for my tastes. A 4 oz pour would have been perfect. It's the syrupy, muddled finish that keeps the beer from an upper echelon rating for me. There are many breweries across the country that can create a barrel aged beer that finishes well all the way through the taste experience. This one doesn't finish well with that caramel-ly syrupy finish.

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Photo of scottfrie
4.08/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2012 vintage poured into a snifter.

A: Pours cola brown with a fuzzy dark brown head that left spotty lace down the glass.
S: Sweet bourbon and dark malts dominate the nose with hints of raisin, leather, candied dates, caramel, dark chocolate, and tons of sweetness. I get a pretty heavy amount of vanilla as well.
T: Follows the nose with all the same flavors including vanilla, leather, bourbon, raisin, dates, and caramel. I'm getting a lot of chocolate and fudge in the finish too, with sweet bourbon lingering in the aftertaste.
M: Medium-thick body, smooth mouthfeel with a slight amount of warming booze. The carbonation is low but it has some texture to it.
O: A really enjoyable beer. I never had the original version but I would definitely seek out the other versions, and this one, again.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.5/5  rDev +3%
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 dar482
4.69/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

The aroma has sweet bourbon, toffee, cherry, sticky caramel.

The flavor follows with the bourbon up front with a thick woodiness throughout. Dark fruit and a touch of roasted malt offer the beer more complexities. The finish offers subtle hops.

A wonderfully complex beer with a balance of bourbon, caramel sweetness, hops, and a touch of stout qualities.

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Photo of unclekeith
4.71/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2013 bomber in a Teku

L: Pours a jet black with a 1-finger coffee colored head
S: Chocolate, sweet fruit, bourbon alcohol
T: Leather, sweet raisins, sweetness bordering on cloying
M: Viscous, noticeable heat from the alcohol,
O: A phenomenal beer - right up there with 4D but easier to get

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Photo of LouZ
4.71/5  rDev +7.8%
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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Bourbon Abominable Winter Ale from Fremont Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 135 ratings.