Prairie Okie - Prairie Artisan Ales
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Ratings: 151 | Reviews: 19 | Display Reviews Only:
3.03/5 rDev -25.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75
"Imperial Brown Ale Aged in Oak Whiskey Barrels." Reviewed as an imperial brown. 13% ABV confirmed. Distributed by the Shelton Bastards. 750ml brown glass bottle with well done label art and hood-and-wire cap (aka cage) over a cork served into a Mitchells of Lancaster flared stem-tulip in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are fairly high given the brewery; I'm in an oak/whiskey barrel mood so I hope this delivers.
Served cold and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor; no carbonation issues are anticipated.
Yields a satisfying pop upon removal of the cork. No beer surges upwards. Carbonation seems good.
A: Pours a one finger head of khaki colour. Nice cream and thickness. Rather good (~4 minute) retention for the high ABV. Light even consistent lacing as the head recedes. I wouldn't say the head "has legs." But it's attractive. No bubble show.
Body colour is a dull solid dark black; not quite a jet black. No yeast particles are visible; it's opaque. Maybe it's actually an extremely dark brown; it's hard to tell in my glass.
Overall, it's a bit darker than you'd expect for a brown ale, but it's looking pretty good. Not unique or special, but impressive for the high ABV. No overt flaws.
Sm: Definitely getting some whiskey notes with accompanying spice and alcohol. Nice cream. Surprisingly forward vanilla notes - but they come off as somewhat artificial and a bit too sweet, not fresh and redolent of actual vanilla beans. Not only is the vanilla prominent; it's artificial. Not getting as much oak as I'd hoped for; no toasty or woody notes anyway. Very minimal floral hop character is detectable. No yeast character is detectable. I wouldn't call it hot or boozy, but alcohol is certainly too obvious here. Dark malts. Caramel. Chocolate malt. Some burnt sugars. Maybe a hint of dark fruit - light plum perhaps. Some toffee, sure. What it's sorely missing is roasted barley; the closest note is the burnt malts but it's no substitute. More reminiscent of a stout than a brown ale; I'm not getting any nutty notes. Though the chocolate and coffee you might expect from a barrel aged stout is absent. Balance doesn't seem ideal, but I'm intrigued. A pretty strong aroma. Nice complexity. The barrel aging seems to work with whatever the base flavour was.
T: Heavy vanilla sweetness up front - way too much so. Almost cloyingly sweet. Artificial to boot. Doesn't feel like it's emerged naturally from the whiskey barrel; it feels like a fake additive. Ugh. And it stays throughout the entirety of the structure, even leaving you with the unappealing sweetness on the aftertaste.
Body seems to be comprised of dark malts and chocolate malt, plus some caramel, toffee, and brown malts. A kiss of dark fruit; it'd be a nice touch if it wasn't buried by that horrendous vanilla.
It should go without saying that the balance is horrible given the troublesome vanilla described above. It's way too sweet, and I say this as something of a fan of Southern Tier's creme brulee. It comes off heavy handed, lacking any subtlety due to the overbearing vanilla.
No yeast character or hop character comes through.
As far as the whiskey & oak/barrel notes? Not getting any whiskey spice or intricacy. I do pick up a hint of nice subtle oak on the climax - definitely a highlight of this beer. Little woody notes. I suppose it comes off far more bourbon-y than it does whiskey-redolent.
There's complexity here; it's just poorly executed. I really thought I'd like this more, but the lack of balance is making it really difficult.
Mf: Creamy, smooth and wet. Nicely soft. Good presence on the palate. Good thickness. Good body, if a bit burdensome. Suits the flavour profile nicely.
Dr: Boy do I hope the vanilla will recede with age for the sake of other purchasers. I'd recommend 3-5 years. I won't be getting it again to find out, especially with its hefty pricetag. But I'd like to try a 5 year old bottle for free. I'm content to chalk this up to an honest failed experiment on the part of Kreb's/Prairie Artisan Ales. It's not poor enough to warrant not bringing it to market, but it seems it didn't quite work out like they planned. Noticeable alcohol and the above-mentioned problematic flavour profile really hold back the drinkability. I'll finish the bottle alone out of respect for it (and because I'm a cheap bastard), but it'll be something of a chore. Probably best shared with 3-4 friends.
I imagine this will find its audience. In fact, given its current 91 rating, I'm in the dissenting minority. I was ready to love this having tried and really liked some of Kreb's' previous beers, but it just didn't do it for me. Glad to have tried it, but it's not for me. Still, there are good elements at play here; they're just hard to appreciate with the distraction of the vanilla.
Serving type: bottle
06-12-2013 04:30:05 | More by kojevergas
3.53/5 rDev -13.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5
Deep brown, short-lived khaki head that collapses to a few swamp bubbles. Big booziness right off the bat. Working through that some thick caramel, prune, ripe apple, coarse wood, toffee, and a dusting of coffee grounds. More booze on the finish, huge whiskey note. Much more like a massive English barleywine than any type of brown ale. Carbonation is low, even taking style into consideration. Lots of flavors going on, the booziness is a little much even for a 13% barrel aged beer. I wish I had another one of these to try in a year.
Serving type: bottle
07-15-2013 23:45:28 | More by bump8628
3.55/5 rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5
750ml bottle poured into a Prairie Teku, cellared for a few months since initial purchase.
The beer pours a very dark cola brown color, almost black but not quite there, lots of opacity, hard to see any visible bubbles or floaties, lots of light brown, amber and burgundy colors when struck by the light with a soft, but thick, khaki head that rises about 2 fingers high before settling nicely into a nice layer of film over a good amount of time, but yields no lace. The aroma is of heavy barrel character, lots of whiskey, oak, stiff malt, burnt brown sugar and caramel, some vanilla, and a big whoosh of fusel alcohol at the back end. It's aggressive and taxing but yet complex and intriguing. The flavors start with a big rush of peat flavor, earthy and dirty, with plenty of whiskey character, mild charred oak, a bit of a roast quality, brown sugar, caramel, raisin, vanilla is more of an afterthought but a nice chocolatey stone fruit flavor comes across towards the end with some firm grain. The alcohol is hidden much better on the tongue, although it does make itself known. The body is a bit thinner, crisp carbonation but it feels nice, there is a lot of smoothness and it coats well. The finish is soft and easy with a strong warming sensation from the alcohol.
Verdict: I'm not sure the base beer held up to the barrels, but there is a lot of complexity. The balance is poor for the most part, but it's still an enjoyable brew. It's big, bold and pretty in your face, but it's remarkably quaffable. My glass was nearly empty before I knew it.
Serving type: bottle
01-18-2014 22:38:28 | More by kevanb
3.71/5 rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75
A - pours a deep brown with a short tan head. Minimal lace. No bubbles.
S - big whiskey barrel, toffee, vanilla, mild chocolate malt, hint of coconut, faint fruity and floral hops. Really nice aroma when still. A swirl produces a less enticing aroma.
T - much less impressive than the aroma. Not surprisingly, it tastes like a big brown ale aged in a whiskey barrel. I get mostly whiskey and some dark chocolate. The flavor is a tad rough for me, but not harsh. Definitely a sipper.
M - medium-full body. Creamy. Slightly astringent. Boozy with a long, warm sustain.
O - the whiskey barrel presence is prominent and the base beer is difficult to appreciate. I think I'd would have liked this much better with some age, but I'm not convinced the base beer is where it needs to be in the flavor department for an outstanding rating.
Serving type: bottle
06-23-2013 18:28:16 | More by GuzzLah
3.74/5 rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75
750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.
Appearance - Deep brow with reddish flecks. Nice khaki head. I expected lifelessness. Retains well and even some clings inside the glass.
Smell - Very fruity. Dark fruits and whiskey. Oak. Caramel. Booze.
Taste - Strong apples and whiskey. Nice combination. Oaky. Caramel behind it all. Boozy finish.
Mouthfeel - Well carbonated, especially for its size. Boozy as hell and kinda harsh. Dry.
Overall - Good flavors, but it's really boozy. Not what I expected at all.
Serving type: bottle
07-09-2013 01:20:18 | More by Alieniloquium
Prairie Okie from Prairie Artisan Ales
91 out of 100 based on 151 ratings.