Bourbon Barrel Aged Hellfighter - Karbach Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 270 | Reviews: 44 | Display Reviews Only:
3.31/5 rDev -23.7%
Ah, the current 11th highest rated Southwest beer. Fun Series 007. 1 litre swing-top growler filled at The Growler Room and served into an Avery stem-tulip in me gaff in low altitude Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given its current ratings, but I wasn't too impressed with the base beer. 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 quite prominent, eclipsing any aromatics of the base beer. 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 really search, I can find the dark malt sweetness of the base beer, but it's shockingly 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 feel like I'm getting a hint of sassafras and cola nut, but that just be because I know to look for them having experienced them in the base.
To be fair, as it warms, I pick up an identifiably English character - I think from the yeast. I love that element of this porter, 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 in general. It has some nice bourbon notes going for it - I just wish it offered more in terms of the beer component. I do like it, but I'm not convinced it's deserving of its current ranking as the #11 Southwest beer. Average duration and 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 biteen overcarbonated (even from a growler!).
Not oily, astringent, gushed, hot, boozy, or wet. There is a bit of warmth on the backend which manifests itself 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. It hides its alcohol content nicely and I find it pretty drinkable for what should be a sipper. I'll have no trouble killing the litre I purchased, but I wouldn't recommend it to friends. Not Karbach's best work.
To be honest, I'd sooner take Ballast Point's Victory at Sea over this - bourbon barrel or not.
Probably drinks best from a snifter.
01-22-2014 06:45:30 | More by kojevergas
3.55/5 rDev -18.2%
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.
01-06-2014 06:23:02 | More by UCLABrewN84
3.55/5 rDev -18.2%
Thanks to drummermattie02 for a 'trade' that involved him sending me a couple of Karbach bottles & me sending him...something. On Monday. Seemed like a good idea, still does. 22 oz. bottle split with my wife.
Pour is the dark black of a porter (a 10.8% porter, yowza). Digging deep, but I'm not getting much off the surface of the beer nose-wise. Faint vanilla, sweet malts.
Bourbon Barrel Hellfighter takes a bit of time to grow on me; definitely a beer that needs a bit of cuddling to warm up. It's defined by a double-entendre of vanilla fudge right up front - & who doesn't love that? Bourbon nip is slow to show, just a peek of the goodies in the middle. Roast arrives, & it's nice & strong. Lots of sweet malt on the downside of the hill. The strong point might be the smoothness, this is creamy & lovely.
Clocks in around good. There's something odd about the beer; it doesn't quite meet my expectations about how a barrel-aged porter should taste, & I'm not sure why. Nonetheless, looking forward to my second Karbach beer.
03-09-2013 05:14:30 | More by maximum12
3.89/5 rDev -10.4%
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.
05-19-2014 05:25:28 | More by dar482
3.95/5 rDev -9%
Thanks to canadianghetto for bringing this up from houston growler style.
The carbonation was little low on this, maybe due to the fact it was a growler.
The color is dark, not as a ris but definitely an imerial porter. dark with brownish notes.
THe smell was woody, bourbon, sweetness.
The motuhfell was thinner than I expected, but had a nice heat presence from the burbon.
THe taste was very similar to older viscosity with out the mega burbon overload OV has. It was a nice roasty, toffee, flavor with burbon backing it up. not over done.
Overall this is a descent beer for a young brewery whom continues to gain popularity.
Glad I got to try this one.
06-05-2012 15:33:09 | More by BgThang
3.99/5 rDev -8.1%
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.
12-30-2013 22:58:14 | More by mattLummus
Bourbon Barrel Aged Hellfighter from Karbach Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 270 ratings.