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Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks - Heavy Seas Beer

Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below DecksHeavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks

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BA SCORE
89
very good

265 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 265
Reviews: 102
rAvg: 4
pDev: 8.75%


Brewed by:
Heavy Seas Beer visit their website
Maryland, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: johnmichaelsen on 05-18-2010)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 265 | Reviews: 102 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of crewfan16
crewfan16

Minnesota

3.61/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

2012 vintage bomber poured into a central waters snifter. had several different varieties of this beer, including the base beer and have all been good so I have high hopes for this bottle. thanks again runner440 for the good trades over the past few years.

a- dark ruby brown in color with very little light showing through. a little darker than the average barleywine. not a ton of carbonation as the slightly off-white head fades quickly.

s- lots of bourbon booziness and oak character on the nose. a bit of fruit, maybe raisin. a bit of caramel and vanilla.

t- follows the nose. lots of bourbon barrel initially followed by a tinge of fruitiness. some caramel, breadiness, a bit of bitter hops then the boozy bourbon on the finish. really tasty but seems to lack a little bit of balance. booze is just a tad overpowering

m- slick feel really sticks in the palate. very little carbonation. some boozy tingle at the end.

overall, a little disapointed because it didnt reach the heights i was hoping it did, but overall a pretty good beer. perhaps i need another one to lay down for another year or two and see if the booze mellows a bit and try it again. anyone want to trade :)

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2013 02:52:03 | More by crewfan16
Photo of superspak
superspak

Michigan

4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, 2012 vintage. Pours slightly cloudy deep ruby red color with a 1 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big caramel, raisin, toast, toffee, vanilla, oak, clove, bourbon, brown sugar, and light booze. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of malt and barrel notes; with good strength. Taste of big caramel, raisin, brown bread, vanilla, toast, toffee, clove, oak, bourbon, brown sugar, light chocolate, and toasted earthiness. Lingering notes of caramel, brown bread, raisin, vanilla, toast, toffee, clove, oak, bourbon, brown sugar, light chocolate, and toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible balance and complexity of dark malt and barrel flavors; with a fantastic malt/barrel balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a moderately creamy, slick, and lightly syrupy moutfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish. Overall this is a fantastic BA Barleywine! All around awesome complexity and balance of malt and bourbon barrel flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

Serving type: bottle

11-02-2013 06:04:59 | More by superspak
Photo of JdoubleA
JdoubleA

North Carolina

3.79/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Served into a Maudite snifter

Appearance - medium-dark reddish brown. Small temporary head with some lacing present.

Smell - Alcohol, caramel, toffee, oak, and bourbon.

Taste - Intense bourbon alcohol. Caramela nd molasses with a small note of coffee.

Mouthfeel - Slick and coats the tongue a bit.

Serving type: bottle

10-17-2013 14:24:00 | More by JdoubleA
Photo of delta490
delta490

Virginia

4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- a deep clear ruby red. A slight bit of head is present on the pour but there is almost no head retention.

S- deep dark fruit and oak.

T- this is where this beer shines. Notes of chocolate, dark fruit, and oak bounce off and play with each other. The interplay is fantastic.

M- silky smooth with no carbonation or bite

O- a delicious and complex beer with great depth. Aged for about a year and it seems to have made this beer great.

Serving type: bottle

10-13-2013 21:03:52 | More by delta490
Photo of Daktyls
Daktyls

Massachusetts

4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Poured from a 22oz bottle into a SA PP glass. Beer is a medium brown color, very hazy, with a one fingered mocha head that quickly recedes leaving a fine lacing in the middle of the beer and around the edge of the glass.

S: The bourbon notes from the aging process are fairly aggressive here with little of the traditional barleywine notes making their way through. Some dark fruits are present in the mix with a tiny bit of spice as well.

T: Delicious notes of sweet caramels, oaked vanilla and of course the bourbon meld together in the primary taste with hints of spice and some dark fruits present closer to the finish.

M: Somewhat thick and oily on the tongue with a low amount of carbonation combines well for this full-bodied beer. There is definitely a boozey quality after the finish with the alcohol making itself present, but not obtrusive.

O: Overall, great. I'm really enjoying this beer, it's definitely different than a traditional barleywine, but for a bigger, heavier beer, this is delightful.

Serving type: bottle

09-22-2013 16:07:17 | More by Daktyls
Photo of BethanyB
BethanyB

New Jersey

3.51/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: A very clear, very dark ruby, with a soft, fizzy, light tan head.

Smell: Spiced rum is at the forefront, with dark fruits close behind. a harsh phenolic smell warns that the bourbon quality to this beer may be strong enough to detract from its other qualities.

Taste: The bourbon taste is almost too obvious, with sticky sweet molasses and caramel sundae topping barely balanced by the mild bitterness. Dates and plums add some complexity, but also add to the overt sweetness, heightening an unbalanced flavor profile.

Mouthfeel: Medium light, with medium carbonation. The tongue gets coated in numbing bourbon before the alcohol warmth moves on to the back of the throat. Could use some more bubbles to balance out the sweetness.

Overall: A decent barleywine, but one that lacks the complexity of other versions, partly because its bourbon character is distractingly high. There are many tasty flavors present, but most of them are too sweet, creating an unbalanced combination.

Serving type: bottle

09-05-2013 01:10:01 | More by BethanyB
Photo of dogfishandi
dogfishandi

New York

3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

"2012 Vintage" 22oz bottle at fridge temp poured into a snifter.

Pours out a deep mahghony, dark brown, with slight hues of deep red. A decent looking light tan colored head, average head retention. Not a whole lot of lacing. Lots of small carbonation bubbles rushing to the top. Some legs is noticeable however.

Smells of warming bourbon booze, toffee, caramel, a bit of butterscotch, ripe dark fruits with some fruity esters. As it warms the booziness almost becomes solvent like.

Nice taste, lots of sweet butterscotch and caramel but some nice warming bourbon as well, somewhat boozey, some oaky vanilla and a bit of ripe dark fruits. A butterscotch sweetness really lingers with the warming bourbon into the finish.

Mouthfeel at first was pretty thin, seemed to get a little better as it warmed.

Not a bad bourbon aged barleywine, has a really nice sweet butterscotch flavor that I loved. A bit more body and this could have been up there with the best of them.

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2013 19:02:51 | More by dogfishandi
Photo of metter98
metter98

New York

4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is quite hazy caramel in color and has a light amount of carbonation visible near the sides of the glass. It poured with a thin off white head that quickly died down, leaving large wispy patches of bubbles on the surface and a thin collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of oak and vanilla are present in the nose along with some hints of bourbon.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and also has some underlying hints of caramel and toffee malts from the underlying barleywine. No bitterness from the hops is detectable, although there's enough hops to mask out any sweetness or stickiness.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. The alcohol—particularly the bourbon—provides a little warming in the finish.
O: This beer is very easy to drink considering its strength and manages to hide its alcohol very well (except from the bourbon flavors). The bourbon barrel aging definitely makes this beer a lot more interesting compared to its regular version and I particularly liked how the bourbon flavors are not too strong.

Note: 2012 vintage

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2013 02:41:08 | More by metter98
Photo of Stinkypuss
Stinkypuss

Pennsylvania

4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ontap, medium amber colored brew. Off white foam leaving some lace. Aroma of dark fruits, spiced apple, bourbon, more fruit. Flavor has a base Barleywine sweet maltyness, accented nicely by big oak and moderate bourbon. Rummy raisin notes are more than welcome here. Alcohol is warming but not overdone in the flavor profile. Dry oaky tannins round out the finish in a full bodied ale. The carbonation is at a healthy medium. Overall quite satisfying. Let this brew warm, it took on a new dimension. A fine job of barrel aging, this is a good Barleywine.

Serving type: on-tap

06-19-2013 23:42:28 | More by Stinkypuss
Photo of jondeelee
jondeelee

Massachusetts

4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks opens to a sweet, fruity nose bearing loads of fruit esters, including very nice bits of plum, fig, orange, grape, and berry, as well as a touch of raisin and prune. These aromas – especially the darker ones – mix well with a light overtone of vanilla, oak, and bourbon from the barrel aging, lending the beer very strong tawny port overtones. In fact, in a blind smelling test, this could be easily mistaken for a light, sweet port, with just a faint hint of extra-vanilla-laden bourbon about the edges. The grains also bring in supporting layers of pie crust and floury baguette, as well as touches of multigrain toast crust, to help offset the sweetness, and touches of brown sugar and amber agave nectar add further dimension to the sugars. As a whole, the nose here is very nice, bearing little in the way of beer aromas, but boasting a full-bodied port-like aroma that is very enticing. The nose can be almost too sweet at times, the fruits coming across like Jolly Rancher candies, but there’s just enough darkness and breadiness to prevent it from becoming cloying.

On the tongue, the beer’s bourbon barrel aging is immediately obvious, the opening notes being a shot of heavily vanilla-laced bourbon that mixes almost instantly with a huge array of fruits, including plum, cherry, berry, orange, fig, and prune, lending the beer an immediate cocktail-cum-tawny-port overtone that is quite delicious. Further sugars make themselves known after a few seconds, including brown sugar, agave nectar, wildflower honey, and even thin threads of super sweet confectioner’s sugar. These sweet notes are lightly held in check by woody overtones from the barrel aging, as well as toast crust, cereal grain, biscuit, and yeasty rising whole wheat dough, though the bready notes occupy much less than half of the flavors. There is an alcoholic vapor that hangs over everything, but it mainly passes off as bourbon – though it can border on vodka. The aftertaste is a continuation of the main mouthful, with a stronger bourbon vapor presence, lingering on the tongue in fruity, alcoholic goodness for a good while. Mouthfeel is medium, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, this is a very nice Barleywine, and the bourbon barrel aging has added a nice layer of complexity that was sorely needed in the basic Below Decks version of this beer. There is perhaps a bit too much sweetness in here (admitting that such a profile fits with the style), and the alcohol vapors do get very strong after a few sips, but on the whole this is very worth trying.

Serving type: bottle

06-19-2013 00:14:53 | More by jondeelee
Photo of DrDemento456
DrDemento456

Pennsylvania

4.23/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - A nice deep amber brown with a 1/4 inch of foamy mocha head.
S - Not very bourbon heavy but still pleasant with caramel, toffee, melon rind, and some sweet sweet vanilla.
T - Far from the most bourbon based beer I had from these guys (damn greater Pumpkin was like straight up booze) this beer taste of balanced boozey awesomeness mixed with syrup like caramel, vanilla highlight, and some more bourbon.
M - Heavy for sure but not as heavy as Backwoods Bastard. Very tasty.

Overall after having two bombers for 8 bucks a pop I am convinced this is the best bourbon barrel beer ever made! Even at 10 bucks its a steal.

Serving type: bottle

05-12-2013 02:16:59 | More by DrDemento456
Photo of Jeffo
Jeffo

Netherlands

3.88/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bomber of this stuff from SliverX. Cheers man!

From a bomber into a snifter

APPEARANCE: Pours a small, medium looking, light tan or off-white head with decent retention. Mahogany or rust in color, transparent with medium levels of carbonation. Head fades to a splotchy wisp and ring. A ring remains until the end and leaves some dots of lacing down the glass.

SMELL: Nice bourbon, vanilla, oak, with some caramel and toffee notes as well. Light melon notes as well. Well integrated barrel and bold enough as well.

TASTE: Caramel and toffee up front with bourbon and oak flavors through the middle into the finish. Bold and lingering aftertaste fo bourbon, oak, vanilla, leather notes and some toffee, nutty sweetness. Melon flavors from the hops as well. Pretty well integrated, much like the nose.

PALATE: Medium body and medium levels of carbonation. A little light perhaps and only semi-creamy on the palate, goes down okay and finishes a touch sticky. A bit of a burn lingers on the palate. Too light, unfortunately, but creamy and smooth enough.

OVERALL: Pretty solid for sure. This one is certainly enjoyable, complex, and very well balanced with a good blend of barrel flavors and base beer. A thicker, heavier feel would make this outstanding. Still, it's very nice as it is and I would definitely drink this again. Thanks again SliverX. Recommended.

Serving type: bottle

04-17-2013 12:44:35 | More by Jeffo
Photo of CaptDavyJones
CaptDavyJones

New York

4.31/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22 oz bomber (2012) in to an oversized snifter.
Amber colored with ruby red hues and a thin film of a head that dissipates fairly quickly.
Aroma is extremely bourbony; with notes of vanilla, coconut and some alcohol sweetness. The aroma is pleasant, not overwhelming.
Taste is similar to the aroma, very bourbon forward. Slight sweetness upfront, giving way to subtle bitterness all the way from the middle to the finish. Some char notes towards the finish. Alcohol is very well hidden and its surprisingly easy to drink.
A very good barrel aged beer, one of Heavy Seas better servings. Definitely worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2013 03:35:22 | More by CaptDavyJones
Photo of McUbermensch
McUbermensch

Kentucky

4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

2012 bottle.

This beer is underrated. I was unsure of it when I purchased it but after I had it I got a few more for my cellar. Anxious to see how it ages. Strong vanilla notes. A wonderful and readily available barrel aged barley wine. Also, for the price 7.99, it's at least worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2013 20:03:34 | More by McUbermensch
Photo of TheManiacalOne
TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

3.85/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap 2/23/2013 at Doherty’s East Ave Irish Pub in Pawtucket, RI, served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a dark coppery reddish brown color, with a short dense off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is faint but contains brown sugar, caramelized malts, bourbon, dark fruit and some hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of caramel, brown sugar, dark fruit and bourbon followed by some creaminess. The hops presence is mild but complementary and the malt character is hearty creating a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down dangerously easy, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, it’s a little bit better than the regular version but not enough to make it an upper echelon barley wine.

Serving type: on-tap

03-15-2013 17:17:18 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of brewdlyhooked13
brewdlyhooked13

Ohio

4.64/5  rDev +16%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - pours a dark amber/caramel. A thin but sticky head goes patchy pretty fast.

Aroma - lots of toasted coconut and caramel and toffee.

Taste - biscuity, chewy malts are quickly covered by sweet caramel and coconut. Some balancing hops at mid-palate. Plenty of abv warmth here, but this is not hot at all. Amazing how the coconut is so forward without an excess of wood or whiskey flavor. A late bourbony bit to the finish. Nicely warm in the belly during tonight's winter storm warning.

Mouthfeel - very smooth, average carbonation, and a plenty big body.

Overall - very unique. I can see this being niche-like to barreling fans, but I like the uniqueness in flavor. This would cellar well provided I could keep it in storage.

Serving type: bottle

03-06-2013 02:29:45 | More by brewdlyhooked13
Photo of Mongrel
Mongrel

Maryland

4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Very boozy, both in taste and in fact. Needs to mellow out for a little while in the glass, otherwise the first several sips taste like a Jack and coke. Starts out thin, but develops a nice full mouthfeel. Tasty, complex and warming. A must-try for bourbon fans.

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2013 18:15:53 | More by Mongrel
Photo of Gmann
Gmann

New York

3.75/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear light brown color, similar to iced tea. The head is quite small and settles into a light ring. Kind of flat looking.

The aroma is sweet with a big caramel and toffee scent. Some golden raisin and honey. The bourbon is subtle, comes through in the end and provides some vanilla and oak.

The taste is quite smooth. Velvety caramel mixes nicely with the vanilla from the bourbon. The bourbon flavor is more noticable than in the aroma but is not overly strong. Golden raisins provide a fruitiness to the brew. A bit of a solvent flavor in the finish and ends a little thin.

Light to moderate body with tingly carbonation. Not slick at all on the palate which is surprising for such a sweet beer. It does feel a little thin for the style. Sweet on the palate but has some hoppy bitterness to offset.

The beer started off really well but towards the finish it felt a tad thin and simple (for a BA Barleywine). Its enjoyable though.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2013 02:52:47 | More by Gmann
Photo of facundoCNB
facundoCNB

New Jersey

4.36/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

a beautiful clean deep amber pour with 2 fingers of fluffy creme colored head which left behind excellent lacing. scents of oak, vanilla, caramel, bourbon. the flavor is very sweet thanks to the malt profile, which also enhances the bourbon, oak, and vanilla flavors properly. holy hell this is like carbonated bourbon!

medium/full body, moderate carbonation, nice warmth. an excellent bba beer. i do wish it had a bit more of a hop profile since it's still a barley wine, but to hell with it.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2013 01:58:47 | More by facundoCNB
Photo of Kendo
Kendo

New York

4.04/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from the bomber into a Piraat tulip/snifter-type glass. I figured the Piraat glass was appropriate given the skull and crossbones pirate theme on the bottle. . . . Anyhoo. . . Body is brownish (more reddish-brown when backlit) with a small off-white head.

S: Toffee, brown sugar and bourbon. Pleasant. The bourbon is the primary scent, but it doesn't overwhelm in an "ohmigod this is SOOO boozy" sort of way.

T: First impression: sweet. Lots of butterscotch and toffee. I don't think I've ever had a beer that tastes this much like butterscotch - and that's quite a feat given the bourbon. Which brings me to the second impression: bourbon. It adds a nice flavor, offsetting the sweetness nicely. There's also some dried fruits present (figs come to mind - I'd love to pair this with the blue-cheese-stuffed, prosciutto-wrapped appetizers that I made for barleyine night at BA pboegel's house last year). Finishes a tad bit hot, with that 10% ABV felt on the way down and into the belly.

M: Thick, slightly syrupy. This one is full bodied.

O: Solid. A sweeter barleywine - appropriate for the "English" moniker (this is no SN Bigfoot or other hop-forward American Barleywine), with the bourbon adding a nice flavor to the overall experience. Thanks to my brother-in-law for bringing this one north from Baltimore. . . .

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2013 22:25:29 | More by Kendo
Photo of JohnnyBarman
JohnnyBarman

Ontario (Canada)

3.83/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

750mL bottle from Premier Gourmet in Buffalo. Enjoyed shortly after the Ravens' first touchdown at the Super Bowl.

Poured into a red wine glass. Dark caramel copper, little bit of head to this, recedes into a fine ring.

Sweet, pleasant nose - really can get the bourbon barrel on this. Sweet malt, lightly burned sugar, mild hops.

Nice barleywine, sweet bourbon entry, finishes with a dry, slightly rough puckery hop character.

Carbonation a bit sharp, medium bodied.

Might be nice to hold on to for cellaring. Enjoyable barleywine.

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2013 00:22:38 | More by JohnnyBarman
Photo of Michael_D
Michael_D

New York

3.28/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Smells sweet like a barley wine, but also has the bourbon nose. Nice red pour with a small white head that doesn't do much of sticking around. Has the barley wine sweetness without any hops really to balance it, which is strange. The bourbon is thrown on top. Not sure it works, but it’s good enough.

Serving type: on-tap

01-31-2013 02:49:33 | More by Michael_D
Photo of tdm168
tdm168

North Carolina

4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - dark amber with a thin brown head that has great retention

S - caramel, candy sugar, big malt presence

T - baked apples, caramel, candy sugar, bourbon, vanilla, alcohol

M - full bodied, well carbonated, warm

This is another delicious version of the Below Decks. The beer is fantastic on its own, but the bourbon adds depth and mellows the alcohol. The barrels impart not only bourbon, but also some vanilla notes. The maltiness of the beer is balanced, fruity, and sugary - just the way I wanted it to be. This is definitely a beer worth trying.

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2013 20:13:52 | More by tdm168
Photo of Greywulfken
Greywulfken

New York

3.88/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: into a snifter, deep amber ruby brown, little-to-no head or lace

S: faint malty toffee and bourbon, some oak and wood aromas

T: I let the beer warm for a good 20 minutes out of the fridge before drinking... rough, unpolished flavor lent the beer a certain rugged character; medicinal toffee, semi-sweet, barley grain comes through nicely, whiskey aftertaste

M: slick, thin, slight alcohol taste, imperceptible carbonation, drying finish

O: Good for a try, but for me, a one-and-done.

Serving type: bottle

01-16-2013 23:21:29 | More by Greywulfken
Photo of BEERchitect
BEERchitect

Kentucky

3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Rarely do American breweries really attempt the malt-focused taste, texture, and refined attitude of English barley wine. Coupled with the effects of bourbon barrel aging, the ever-steady Winter Storm takes on new armatures to achived greater strength, complexity, and taste...

Pouring a hazy chestnut-brown hue, the beer's reluctant release of foam yields a dainty creme of swirled foam that comprises the beer's head character. With no real lace to mention, the beer seems more of brandy or cognac with its legging than it does beer- especially after the midpoint of the session.

Bold sweetness emerges immediately from the snifter in the form of maple, brown sugar, and molasses. Its sweet scent is complex with barrel-derived caramels, vanillans, oak, and modest cherry esters that blend into the sweeter and more savory notes with ease. Herbal hops take on soft tobacco notes that add accents and further evoke the notion of savory and succulence as the scent carries on.

In similar fashion, the syrupy malts rise first and coat the mouth with dessert-like maltiness that's lead with caramel and toffee. As the taste of bourbon sets in with boozy oak, pepper, and vanilla- so do the taste of dehydrated cherries, dates, figs, and raisins, A slow recede of estery fruits and malt sweetness allows the balance from spicy alcohol and vinous fruit to signal closure.

Full bodied throughout, the beer's oily viscosity stimulates the early palate, but the cleaner,malty-richness caresses the tongue and lulls the mind into a trance of sweetness that's sure to appease the sweet tooth in all of us. Finishing rich, sweet, and malty-warm, the extended aftertaste begs for stilton and maytag blue cheeses.

The beer showcases malt balance in vivid display- with little rebuttal from hops, yeasty fruit or spice or from water chemistries, the beer is ripe and pungent with all of the glory of English hops. Though done in America, the brewery really shows great command of the style.

Serving type: bottle

01-16-2013 07:26:36 | More by BEERchitect
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Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks from Heavy Seas Beer
89 out of 100 based on 265 ratings.