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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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Bourbon Abominable Winter Ale Alström Bros
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Reviews: 142 | Hads: 836
Photo of mactrail
4.25/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the 22 oz bottle, 2014 Vintage, purchased at Chuck's 85th St Market. Never mind the price, it's a massive brew of world-class intensity. Just have a little bitty glass once in a while to remind you of optimism and the good things in life.

Very dark brown with a gorgeous pile of thick beige foam, lasting long and sticking to the small Pilsener glass. Sweet with malt, that covers the flavor spectrum from light through caramel, burnt sugar, dark roast, and hints of blackened barley. The hoppy bitterness serves to balance nicely, leaving an aftertaste of bitterish licorice.

Deep aroma of Bourbon with a buttery note. Flavors of dark raisins soaked in rum. This is not overly thick or sticky, but its sweetness is buoyed up by the clouds of carbonation. Some sharp notes like dried tart figs. Delicious with a whirl of flavors ending in some vanilla and the woody bitter tang.

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Photo of Zaximus
4.23/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2014 Vintage

L- Dark, dark brown. Not black to me but close. Totally opaque. Nice thin head with very little lacing.

S- Caramel, dark fruit, bourbon. Not quite as pronounced as I thought it would be but maybe the year has mellowed it a bit.

T- Caramel, vanilla, dark fruit, raisin, licorice and bourbon. Starts off just a hair sweet but very nice. Moderately hoppy finish.

M- My favorite aspect. Exceptionally creamy. Just perfect. And the alcohol is extreme well hidden. Really, really nice.

O- I liked aspects but the nose was a bit underwhelming and I was not a big fan of the hoppy finish. Still a very nice brew.

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

If I ever developed a drinking problem it would be because of this beer! Fortunately I'm not wealthy enough to purchase an endless supply. This is the model of a well ballanced BBA. Only occasionally is there a little more heat than wished for. I recommend an additional year of aging for true nirvana.

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Photo of mr-jj
4.19/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Hmm, can't believe I haven't rated this before. This was a 2014 bottle poured into a snifter.

Color is black with a thin khaki head. Smell is anise, bourbon, raisins, and vanilla - lots of booze. Flavor has a lot of complexity - bourbon, oak, dark fruit, vanilla. Mouthfeel is medium/full with moderate carbonation. Very creamy. Overall, a very good BA beer.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.39/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bomber into an oversized tulip. 2014 vintage.

All I can ask for in a beer's appearance. Chewy, frothy, substantial, dark oatmeal, dark khaki head. Black body that veers light in color. 5

Smells of aged oak, spicy bourbon, booze, vanilla, raisin, dark fruit. A bit too boozy and bourbon dominated for my liking. 4

Ahhhh, but this flavor. Tobacco, oak, rich vanilla, bourbon, dark chocolate, dark fruit, oatmeal, hell, oatmeal cookie, brown sugar, molasses. Really spectacular flavors here, although at times they can be overwhelmed by booze. 4.5

For an oatmeal stout, the body here is thin. The flavors don't suffer from it, but it's cause for wonder at how good this good be with more fullness. Great viscosity to the body though and it has creamy moments, when not interrupted by boozy heat, that are excellent. I'm fluctuating between a 4 and a 4.25 here, and I'm feeling generous. 4.25

Damn this is drinking delicious. I wasn't nearly as wowed by the coffee and cinnamon version. This trumps that one.

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Photo of Shaler_Tate
4.49/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one is really special. Tons and tons of bourbon on both the nose and taste, but it isn't overpowering at all. Really well balanced and full of chocolate and vanilla notes with a caramel like finish.

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Photo of superspak
4.42/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, 2013 vintage. Pours dense pitch black color with a small dense dark tan head with good retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings around the glass, with a light amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, molasses, toffee, raisin, plum, fig, cherry, vanilla, bourbon, toasted oak, leather, light licorice, and roast/oak earthiness. Fantastic aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt and bourbon barrel notes; with great strength. Taste of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, molasses, toffee, raisin, plum, fig, cherry, vanilla, bourbon, toasted oak, leather, light licorice, and roast/oak earthiness. Light amount of roasted bitterness and bourbon/oak spiciness; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, molasses, toffee, raisin, plum, fig, cherry, vanilla, bourbon, toasted oak, leather, and roast/oak earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roasted malt and bourbon barrel flavors; with a great roasted bitterness/sweetness and oak spiciness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light carbonation and very full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and fairly slick mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a small warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is an absolutely incredible barrel aged strong ale! All around fantastic balance, robustness, and complexity of dark/roasted malt and bourbon barrel flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A highly amazing offering as expected.

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Photo of MakeMineADoubleJack
4.69/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

2014 vintage. Pours like a thin, dark brown syrup. A nose packed with sweet bourbon, cacao, raisins, dried figs, and coffee. Such a sweet, decadent brew. Not a super thick mouthfeel despite its creaminess. I thought this beer was just outstanding. Up there with Firestone's Anniversary brews.

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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 gibgink
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
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 +7.3%
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 +8.4%
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 -7.8%
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 -6.2%
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 -13.2%
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 papat444
4.24/5  rDev -3.2%
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 +0.2%
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 n2185
3.7/5  rDev -15.5%
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 -11.6%
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 +12.6%
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 flagmantho
4.23/5  rDev -3.4%
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 -5.3%
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
5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | 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 -4.6%
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 +4.6%
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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Bourbon Abominable Winter Ale from Fremont Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 142 ratings.