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Bourbon Barrel Aged Hellfighter - Karbach Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Bourbon Barrel Aged HellfighterBourbon Barrel Aged Hellfighter

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52 Reviews

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Reviews: 52
Hads: 392
Avg: 4.28
pDev: 11.21%
Wants: 139
Gots: 121 | FT: 11
Brewed by:
Karbach Brewing Co. visit their website
Texas, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  10.80% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BgThang on 06-05-2012

F.U.N. Series 003 (Apr 2012) aged in barrels from Heaven Hill Distillery which included: Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, and Old Fitzgerald

F.U.N. Series 005 (May 2013) aged in barrels from Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, and Old Fitzgerald

F.U.N. Series 007 (Nov. 2013) aged in barrels from Makers Mark and Four Roses
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 52 | Hads: 392
Photo of puck1225
4.21/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap into a snifter. Very dark, thin head, nice lacing. Dark fruit, caramel, and chocolate. Some coffee. Very enjoyable for the last beer of the evening.

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Photo of Kurmaraja
4.38/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

FUN Series 005. One of the great BA porters. Pours very dark brown, definitely not black, mocha colored head that lingers, sticking to the glass. Nose is bakers chocolate, cocoa, a hint of licorice, vanilla / oak, lots of caramel & brown sugar bourbon sweetness. Flavor stays shy of hot but there is a ton of bourbon. Finish brings in more of that licorice and maybe a bit of molasses. Plenty thick for the style but light enough to remain nimble.

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Photo of pmangold
4.29/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

almost missed this one at a share. what a great BA porter. wasn't too thick or thin - the bourbon was a pleasant addition to the rich flavors of the chocolatey porter.

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Photo of chrismann65
4.61/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

This is just one of the best BA. Porter I have ever tasted .! Rich vanilla, bourbon, roasted malt, and chocolate. ! Houston we have a winner , Wow great Job Karbach !! I'm Drinking #07. BA, Hellfighter...Can't wait for the new BBH. will be released several times a year, sometimes with other ingredients (cherries anyone?) in the mix. The brew's rich malt character, along with chocolate and vanilla notes, make it the perfect beer to warm your toes! What a nice beer , WOW . !!!

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Photo of bobv
4.44/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured (medium on the vigorous scale) into a Tree House snifter.
Not quite black with a one inch tan head, which has dissipated slowly.

S: Ah, roasty vanilla and bourbon at first.
As it warms a bit, mocha!

T: Ooh, baby!
Milk chocolate and bourbon!

M: So frickin' nice and velvety!

O: Please, sir, may I have another!!!
Definitely in my top 5 BBA Porters!
Thanks John!

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Photo of OneEye78
4.24/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage poured from a bomber into a snifter. Dark black with an almost white head. Smell was primarily bourbon, vanilla and oak. Taste lead by coffee, with brown sugar, vanilla and bourbon heat. Mellowed as it warmed, with more sweetness and chocolate tones. A very solid BBA porter, interested to try it with some age.

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Photo of nathanmiller
3.24/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

BBH has, at this point, undergone so many releases, and, as is the case in any barrel aged beer, each release has been different. However, I have to say the inconsistencies in this case have at times been so extreme, it's a detriment. I first had their experimental batch at the Monsters of Beer festival in 2012, and have been fortunate enough to try most batches since. The review below is an "averaging" of reviews, taking into consideration the good batches and the less-so batches.

The color is wonderful, the head is medium-dark, nice with light retention. The aroma is rather one-note, the major failing of every batch, almost entirely barrel and bourbon. The taste, when good, is very good - bourbon, chocolate, just light hints of barrel, toffee, and coffee. Unfortunately, like nearly every Houston dark beer, the body is thinner than desired.

Overall, BBH can be a great beer. At its height, it certainly was. Unfortunately it can also be a rather mediocre beer, and that seems to be the case often.

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Photo of frenchblood21
4.05/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into KBS goblet. Date of review is 8/9/14.

Appearance- HUGE light brown head! Slowly creeps down into the glass. The liquid is black but not pitch black. Fantastic looking beverage.

Smell- Big boozy bourbon fills my nose right away. I get chocolate, roasted malt and honey too. Vanilla is there too, but I get no coffee, which the description on the bottle said I would.

Taste- Bourbon and chocolate blow you away. Now I get the coffee and vanilla and it's wonderful. Surprisingly, there is still quite a hoppy presence too. Roasted malt pops up for a second at the very end.

Mouthfeel- Thick, deep and awesome. Again, a surprising amount of hops coat the tongue and linger a while. Chocolate flavor just won't go away.

Overall- Really solid offering from a brewery I had never heard of. This is how barrel-aged beers are supposed to taste.

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Photo of chinchill
4.64/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Big Hops Growler Station in San Antonio during a Karbach tap takeover.

Excellent appearance with an exceptionally creamy and durable tan head.
Excellent use of barrel aging: the whisky and wood are prominent but do not bury the fine porter base. Near perfect bitter/sweet balance. Very smooth full body with spot on carbonation.

O: highly recommended.

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Photo of dar482
3.91/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The flavor on this beer has a frontal assault of vanilla, bourbon, roasted malt, and chocolate. However, the mid palate drops off quickly into a huge hop presence. Instead of an expected sweet chocolate and vanilla on the back, there's a hop flavor of earthy and herbal. It hits the palate aggressively and is something that does not occur in other barrel aged brews.

In the end, quite disappointing from what I expected.

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Photo of Wayne17
4.92/5  rDev +15%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Pours black like my soul, tan head. Nice lacing down the glass. Smells of dark chocolate, dark malts, bourbon. Taste is super roasty and the barrel is right there perfectly complimenting this rich malty beer. The thing I like about Hellfighter is it's a nice change from some BBA porters/stouts that tend to get super sweet. And sometimes I love a super sweet beer but Hellfighter keeps it more hot and smokey rather than sweet. Karbach rarely disappoints me, and it really doesn't get much better than BBA Hellfighter.

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Photo of d5001986
4.45/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

32oz growler poured into tulip.

A: Pitch black with large, foamy, tan colored head.

S: Powerful booze and roasted malt up front. Chocolate, caramel, and molasses.

T: Sweet and boozy with good roasted character. I also pick up molasses and vanilla.

M: Medium bodied, surprisingly refreshing.

O: I thought this was very good. The strong roasted character was a plus for me, very drinkable!

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Photo of benclimbs
4.26/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours deep chocolate black with a great look.

Nose is tons of vanilla/bourbon and deep cocoa and chocolate notes, along with some deep dark dried fruit.

Taste is classic for a big bourbon barrel aged stout - tons of oaky whiskey like character in the background mixed with all the good stuff that you want.

Solid beer, thanks Wes!

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Photo of kojevergas
3.32/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Ah, the current 11th highest rated Southwest beer. Fun Series 007. 1 litre swing-top growler filled at The Growler Room and served into a stem-tulip at low altitude in Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given its current ratings, but I wasn't too impressed with the base. Reviewed as an imperial porter.

Served cold - straight from the fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Swingtop yields a healthy pop upon removal, indicating adequate carbonation.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a one finger wide head of gorgeous supply complexion and nice smooth even consistency. It's got a great khaki colour to it and has ample creaminess and thickness. Appears soft. Head retention is pretty good - about 4-5 minutes. Nice even lacing sticks to the sides of the glass when you tilt it, but doesn't really hold.

Body colour is a predictable opaque solid black - a darker black than the base beer, to be sure - but still not quite a jet black per se. No floating yeast particles/sediment is visible.

Overall, it's about what you'd expect from an imperial porter. It's not unique or special, but is certainly appealing. There are no obvious flaws here.

Sm: The bourbon notes are prominent, eclipsing the aromatics of the base. It's pretty vanilla-forward, with oak taking a backseat. It isn't the toasted oak wood I crave in a great bourbon beer, but it's oak alright. If I search, I find the dark malt sweetness of the base , but it's faint. I do find cream, caramel, chocolate (malt), and perhaps marshmallow. I don't find the lactose sugar notes or brown sugar I noticed in the base beer.

Overall, vanilla is dominant. It's a pleasant if timid aroma of below average strength. Rarely are imperial porters so tame.

No yeast character or alcohol is detectable. I also have trouble identifying any sort of hop profile. It's certainly more on the sweet end than the bitter end.

T: The bourbon overwhelms the base beer, supplanting it almost entirely. Sure, you've got the dark malt/chocolate malt sweetness of the base propping up the bourbon barrel notes, but for the most part the base has been eclipsed by the barrel. I like to see better integration of barrel notes into beer; ideally the barrel should complement nuances already present in the base beer and coax out more complexity, subtlety, and depth of flavour, but that isn't the case here. This is just an insipid imperial porter drowned in bourbon.

But don't get me wrong; the bourbon notes are spot-on. Wonderful vanilla is dominant, with some backing oak present as well. (Though as abovementioned, it's not the toasted oak you'd find in a more sophisticated brew like Backwoods Bastard).

Marshmallow, cream, caramel, maybe toffee. I'm getting a hint of sassafras and cola nut - maybe because I know to look for them having experienced them in the base.

As it warms, I pick up an identifiably English character - I think from the yeast. I love that element, and wish it was more pronounced.

No hops, or alcohol is/are identifiable. It's certainly sweet, but not cloying.

This isn't a complex, subtle, deep, intricate, or nuanced imperial porter. Nor is it much of a porter. Has some nice bourbon notes - I just wish it offered more in terms of the base beer. I do like it, but I'm unconvinced it's deserving of its ranking as the #11 Southwest beer. Average duration/intensity of flavour.

Mf: Sticky. Silky. Smooth and wet. Nicely full-bodied and thick. The texture is strong enough to support the flavour profile, but I don't know that it really coaxes much out of it; there isn't a perfect marriage of texture to taste here but it gets the job done and doesn't distract. Decent presence on the palate. A bit overcarbonated.

Has warmth on the backend which manifests mainly as a pleasing sensation in the stomach.

Decent execution. The stand-out for me is the light softness of it.

Dr: You've got to start with a more flavorful base to really execute a bourbon barrel aged imperial porter right. This brew pales in comparison to superior beers in its class, but it's a nice dark brew that will satisfy fans of bourbon in their beer. I might nab it on-draught if I have the opportunity, but I wouldn't jump at the chance to buy it again for home consumption. Hides its alcohol nicely and I find it pretty drinkable for what should be a sipper. I'll have no trouble killing the litre I purchased.

Drinks best from a snifter.



1 finger wide head is smooth, soft, and luscious. Opaque black colour.

Sm: Overly bourbony, overwhelming the base. Cream, vanilla, dark malts.

T/Mf: Creamy, with a bourbon-forward profile that overwhelms the base beer entirely. Vanilla. Not balanced in terms of barrel/base, but balanced overall.

O: A sipper, sure, but nevertheless enjoyable. Probably Karbach's best work, but that isn't saying much. Far from world-class.

Low B-

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Photo of stumac
4.56/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is the F.U.N. 007

Drinking this little beauty at Craft Pride's Karbach Party!

Pours up dark brown with a decent tan head. Nice lacing. Nose is vanilla and caramel and big oaky. Very rich aroma. Flavor is same as nose. Slightly smoky. Crispy fresh carbo. Full bodied. I dig this.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.56/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Tieman for sharing this one at jmgrub's tasting.

2013 vintage. F.U. N. Series 007.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Tiny dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, bourbon, and wood aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa and bourbon flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of woody bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with an earthy wood and bourbon presence.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours beautiful black-brown with a one-finger khaki head that lasts very nice soapy lacing throughout. Aromas of light bourbon undertones, sweet and roasted malt, some cherry wood and coffee. Dark chocolate, wood, sweet malts, some coffee, and light esters are detected in the flavor along with the occasional showing of Makers Mark and Four Roses which doesn’t seem to mesh quite well. Medium mouthfeel. Quite a quaffable beer for the package punched brew. Not entirely sure if the Makers Mark complemented the Four Roses barrel quite well enough which hurt the overall score very slightly. Glad to have tried this from Karbach and look forward to trying out more of their F.U.N. series down the road.

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got in a trade with icetrauma. 22 ounce bottle into tulip glass; No. 005, bottled in May 2013. Pours dense pitch black color with a 2 finger dense dark tan head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Dense soapy lacing clings around the glass, with some light streaming carbonation. Aromas of big dark chocolate, roasted malt, cocoa, brown sugar, toast, vanilla, toffee, clove, oak, bourbon, light char, light coffee, and roasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good complexity and balance of dark/roasted malt and barrel notes; with good strength. Taste of big dark chocolate, roasted malt, cocoa, light char, toast, vanilla, toffee, brown sugar, clove, oak, bourbon, light coffee, and roasted earthiness. Light roast/barrel bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, roasted malt, cocoa, toast, toffee, vanilla, clove, oak, brown sugar, light char, light coffee, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity of dark/roasted malt and bourbon barrel flavors; with a great malt/barrel flavor balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very creamy and moderately slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with only a small warming present after the finish. Overall this is a highly excellent barrel aged porter! All around great complexity and balance of dark/roasted malt and barrel flavors; and quite smooth to sip on for the high ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of mattLummus
3.99/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good, interesting Porter. Nice head with a semi-sweet aroma. Body is pretty heavy for a Porter, which I enjoy. Taste is semi-sweet at first, with a bitter aftertaste, and you can taste the barrel age in the finish. Solid beer with unique notes, although it can be a bit rich.

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Photo of Hops4Pops
4.78/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

32 oz growler.
Expectations are very high.
A: Aggressive pour into a tulip. Pitch black in color. Light shown through it reveals a very dark reddish brown color. Pretty strong flashlight and fresh batteries. Can only barely see through this beer! Small thin tan head dissipated quickly. Oily light lacing.
S: Wow. Big Beer. Bourbon, chocolate, malts, tiny bit of hops.
T: Very good! Very balanced except for the ABV sticking out a little bit. I expected that however considering it was aged in bourbon barrels and is over 10 percent. Pretty much tastes exactly how it smells. Bitterness comes in the back end. Very nice
M: Smooth and creamy up from with the warmth on the finish. It has a "come hither" mouthfeel to it.
O: An outstanding beer in my humble opinion. This is a big boy beer. Strong. Outspoken. Unique. Right on. Appropriately named, it begs for a fight. After I finish this growler, I think it may have won. Going to let it warm up a lot to see what else I can find buried in it.

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Photo of MattSweatshirt
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

005 on draft

Black pour that isn't totally opaque with a thick tan head.

Bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, roast, dark fruits, and wood.

Flavors come through nicer on the tongue. Bourbon booze, raisins, vanilla, dark chocolate, coffee, and caramel. Gets a little sticky sweet.

Smooth medium body. Slightly tingling carb.

Had the 007 and this and both are great.

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Photo of BryantForestry
4.62/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

#007 in the series - Nov 20, 2013

excellent beer, great taste, color and feel

smell is very bourbonic

sorry guys no eloquent waxing


Not sure what F.U.N means

I recommend the beer, the brewery and the store

thank you Trey at Speck's in Conroe, Texas

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Photo of mhksuccess
4.24/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This review is for the 005
Pour from a bottle into Bruery snifter
pretty dark pour
smell is very nice roasty and bourbon flavors
pretty complex taste dominated by the bourbon barrel which are very nice
mouthfeel is solid not too thick or thin pretty much just how it suppose to be
get a little vanilla come thru on the back end and heavy barrel
overall this is a solid outing would get again or try some of the other in this series

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Photo of cvm4
4.34/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

No. 005 in the series

A - Pours black and has a dark caramel head. The retention is lacking, but it's a solid looking imperial porter.

S - Smell is a bourbon barrel dream. The bourbon is dominate here. It's backed up by vanilla, dark chocolate and a bit of licorice.

T - Gobs of oaky bourbon goodness. Just as dominate is the expresso, dark chocolate and vanilla. Slight licorice. Really delivers on the taste.

M - Medium bodied with perfect carbonation. Once warmed, it can feel a little bit syrupy &/or cloying.

O - To me, an imperial porter is basically a ramped up stout. This is a pretty awesome one at that.

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Photo of Premo88
5/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz. bomber poured into stout glass -- the label designation is No. 005

L: black with toffee head that percolates like coffee then blooms big time -- what a pour! huge lacing

S: coffee/espresso, BOURBON -- man, can you smell the juice ... loads of alcohol in the nose, almost like Windex; sweet figs (?) but not crossing over into darker malt raisins ... very sweet dark red wine. a bit of vanilla in it, then as it warms up, sweet biscuits ... like a damn euro pale lager or brown ale ... that super sweet light malt smell

T: big alcohol ... but coffee/espresso and dark chocolate work with the alcohol (single-malt scotch at times, i'd swear) to give it a great taste. it's not hiding the booze, though ... the aftertaste lingers like sugar and scotch

F: perfect. loads of carbonation and a silky feel give it a fullness that's undeniable. never feels "lumpy" like a lot of big stout/porters feel to me.

O: it's boozy, but it's tasty ... the upshot is a semi-sweet chocolate tasting beer with coffee notes that show through the alcohol notes. honestly, i can't say if it's better than a regular Hellfighter -- both are good.

NOTE -- I've now had this beer through the 007 designation and the current BBH version in 2015, on tap and in the bomber bottle, and it is PERFECT every time. It's by far my favorite barrel-aged beer, so I've re-calibrated its score because it deserves it.

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Bourbon Barrel Aged Hellfighter from Karbach Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 52 ratings.