Bourbon Barrel Aged Hellfighter - Karbach Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 273 | Reviews: 44 | Display Reviews Only:
4.93/5 rDev +13.6%
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.
03-24-2014 18:41:09 | More by Wayne17
4.45/5 rDev +2.5%
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!
02-03-2014 23:33:47 | More by d5001986
4.29/5 rDev -1.2%
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!
01-31-2014 05:23:58 | More by benclimbs
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
Bourbon Barrel Aged Hellfighter from Karbach Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 273 ratings.