Short's Bourbon Barrel Sustenance Black Beer - Short's Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Short's Bourbon Barrel Sustenance Black BeerShort's Bourbon Barrel Sustenance Black Beer

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BA SCORE
90
outstanding

197 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 197
Reviews: 80
rAvg: 4.04
pDev: 10.4%
Wants: 57
Gots: 27 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Short's Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Schwarzbier |  6.50% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Baileyuk on 04-28-2008

Sustenance Black Beer aged it in bourbon barrels for 11 months.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 197 | Reviews: 80
Reviews by linnymtu:
More User Reviews:
Photo of tectactoe
3.97/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Thanks to Jeff for picking me up a sixer of this at the brewery. Not sure exactly what is meant by Bourbon Barrel "Soaked", rather than "Aged", but I'll never turn down a Shorts brew. This one pours a dark brown color, kind of thin and a bit lighter looking compared to what I had imagined in my mind. Almost no head at first, but it gracefully forms seconds after I finish pouring - tan in color, big-bubbled, and lightly creamy. No lace on the glass, but the beer leaves some wet legging when swirled.

One thing's for sure - the aroma on BB Sustenance is much more robust than its appearance might have you believe. It comes out swinging with a huge barrel presence - bourbon is perhaps the strongest peripheral, following closely by a large amount of smooth and sweet vanilla. Some mild oaky, woody, and nutty aromas lay beneath those, creating a beer that smells not too far off of sticking your head inside of an old bourbon barrel. Upon warming, more roasted malts and sweet chocolate notes jump out, too - this beer smells great.

One sip and you're immediately assulted by a great deal of booze; the bourbon hits hard, almost coming off as more of a raw, whiskey flavor. Once the initial shock of the bourbon subsides, other flavors that come out include a soft-spoken mix of cola, oak, roast, and some vanilla - sadly in much lower capacity than was found in the aroma. Lots of chocolate and cocoa powder comes crashing in about halfway through and hangs around for the aftertaste. Especially when this puppy warms up, the semi-sweet cocoa becomes a big proponent in the finish.

The mouth feel on BB Sustenance is slick and wet, but it has a slight creaminess to it that keeps it feeling smooth and refreshing on the palate. Carbonation is pretty low, but it really isn't much of a bother. I guess when I hear "Bourbon Barrel" in front of a beer, I'm expecting some thick, viscous, chewy-ass liquid, but that's simply not the case. Schwarzbiers typically are not thick, and so it shouldn't be too much of a concern that BB Sustenance isn't, either, save for the barrel-induced creaminess.

It's hard to believe this beer is only 6.5% ABV - the bourbon character is very strong and very forward. It starts strong and finishs strong, leaving a warmth that engulfs your throat and even the upper-half of your chest after each swallow. Not so much robust as it is unabashedly powerful; while I still enjoyed the beer, some time in the cellar might provide a smoother flavor profile with a slightly toned down alcohol assault. Fresh, this one's a slow sipper. Shorts wasn't too far off with their slogan for this one - "for when you're hungry and thirsty".

Photo of orbitalr0x
3.72/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber with awesome label art. The cap comes off with quite a pop as the brew flows out of the bottle...a quick catch into my glass leaves me a dark brown body with a two finger light tan head on top. Initial aromas of lightly roasted dark malts and hints of caramel. There's a wild yeast character here that brings some sour bretty funk to the table as well with fruity accents. Woody oak tones and a mellow bourbon character that just barely shines through.

First sip brings a nice roasty dark malt upfront with hints of caramel and fruitiness. There's a hint of chocolate that moves into a woody oak flavor. Sour tinge is still there with the wild yeast accent. Only a touch of bourbon flavor hints through on the way down. My bottle at least comes off as a funky, oaky schwarzbier and even if this was not the intention I enjoyed it.

Mouthfeel is on the lighter side with swift moving carbonation and plenty of it. This goes down rather easily, but the bubbles are a little much. Overall, the wild yeast twist to this beer made it taste a lot different that I was expecting...this reminds me of a Jolly Pumpkin brew expect aged in bourbon. I did end up enjoying the bomber and thanks to hoppymeal for the opportunity.

Photo of warnerry
4.45/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Notes from summer 2010

Pours pitch black with minimal head that dissipates pretty quickly. Does leave some nice lacing behind.

Smell is wonderful sweet bourbon and malt, with notes of chocolate and vanilla and some ripe dark fruits.

Taste is similar to smell, with wonderful subtle bourbon notes and a nice smoky malt.

Mouthfeel is medium with decent carbonation.

Drinkability is very high. This is one of the best examples of bourbon barrel aging really improving a beer, as the regular Black Sustenance is pretty underwhelming. A very nice beer that I would love to see Short's do again.

Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A lovely schwartzbier. Pours black, white head, with mollasses and pleasant bourbon aroma. Above average mouthfeel, a little grain substance, caramel,chocolate malt,vanilla, coffee, some roast. Very drinkable, and brett in there gives it an edge.I will explore more of this brewer's brews. Good fun.

Photo of prototypic
3.97/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bourbon Barrel Sustenance pours a dark, chocolate fudge color. It’s not opaque. Backlighting reveals some burgundy highlights throughout. A tan head covers the top. It rises above a surface covering, but not by much. The surface bubbles hold steady for a while. Lacing was definitely light and spotty. Not bad at all.

The nose is good. It kicks off with a nice bourbon scent. It’s not overly strong. I like that. It complements the dark malt notes of cocoa and chocolate well. Light roasted malt scents are present, but they’re very subtle. Secondary notes include vanilla and oak. Alcohol is definitely in the mix. What’d you expect with something barrel-aged? Doesn’t smell overly strong though. Smells good.

The flavor is likewise good. It’s a touch better than the nose, but not enough to trigger a score bump. It kicks off with a mix of chocolate, cocoa, and light roasted malts. Bittersweet dark chocolate leads the charge. Bourbon follows quickly and complements the malt base extremely well. Its presence is moderately strong. I love that. Secondary flavors include oak, vanilla, coconut, and roasted coffee. Good stuff. Alcohol is there, but isn’t too strong. Seems a little stronger than 6.5% to me, but perhaps not double digit territory. Just sayin’. Finishes malty with a touch of bourbon. Very good stuff.

Bourbon Barrel Sustenance has a medium body that’s nice and smooth. Carbonation is dialed back nicely. I like the feel quite a bit. Perhaps a tad bit more body would improve it, but that’s just a guess. Pretty well done as it is.

Short’s Brewing Company continues to impress. Bourbon Barrel Sustenance is very solid all-around. Bourbon Barrel-aging a Schwarzbier – who would’ve thought? It works extremely well though. The moderate bourbon presence was a great call. It complements rather than overpowers. Very good stuff. Easy recommendation.

Photo of nickd717
3.85/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle thanks to Nick3. Always good to tick a retired beer. Retired usually means it was too good for the brewery to brew again.

Pours very dark brown with a small off-white head that leaves swirls on the beer.

The aroma is pretty big - bourbon, roast, caramel, spices, and oak.

Big flavor with big-time caramel and toffee, spices, anise, roast, hazelnut, bourbon, and oak. Solid stuff.

Medium-bodied with medium-low mouthfeel and only slight booziness.

Pretty good -bal aged beer, but not a standout.

Photo of mdvatab
3.27/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Received this one as extra in a trade this past Fall. Split w/ barfwin.
Poured from 12oz bottle into snifter.

Aroma: Dark chocolate syrup, raisin, malted milk, and bourbon.

Appearance: 1/2 finger lt. tan head disappears quickly. The stream of beer resembles a cola as it's poured from the bottle. Once in the glass, it's, similarly, brown around the edges, and black in the middle.

Flavor: A noticeable bourbon flavor up front, an interesting cherry tartness, and then smokey dark chocolate. Not bad, but I wasn't necessarily wowed either.

Mouthfeel: Medium mouthfeel, medium carbonation, and an unexpected, almost mouth-watering tartness.

Overall: Definitely a unique brew, which I'd like to try again on-tap at some point. I'm admittedly not a huge fan of a tart component in richer, maltier, roastier beers, though. Also, would have liked a bit more foam from a schwarzbier, but the bourbon component might have adversely affected this? Try for yourself!

Photo of sailbretthd
3.85/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into pint glass from bottle I picked up on summer trip through Michigan.

A: Black coffee appearance with fair head that dissipates into a lacy film

S: Roasty wood tones, very warming.

T: Robust earth tones, full of flavor that starts with sour wood notes and mellows into a pleasent sweetness. Quite complex and very enjoyable.

M: Crisp, bold and clean.

D: Very high on the drinkability scale, bold but not over the top.

Photo of SpdKilz
4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz 2011 bottle courtesy of Erik (erikkoppin). Thanks so much for this generous extra. Cheers!

Appearance – Pours into my Bell’s tulip with an almost opaque dark chocolate color. When held up to bright light just the faintest red hues of light shine through. About a finger of quickly dissipating tan head that leaves decent lacing.

Smells – Smells chewy if that is possible. Lots of sweet bourbon barrel notes up front which fade to some dark fruits, brown sugar, oak, and a slight presence of vanilla. As the beer warms a butterscotch/toffee aroma becomes more noticeable.

Taste – Wow, lots of butterscotch and vanilla here right at the start! The bourbon actually becomes more prevalent as the beer warms and with each sip I take (intermixing with the first two flavors). There is bittersweet cocoa/chocolate, earthiness, and again more sweetness that goes from butterscotch to toffee to brown sugar. A “candied” beer if you will.

Mouthfeel – Medium bodied, not as creamy as I was expecting though enough, carbonation on par for what I would expect.

Overall – An interesting barrel aged beer from Short’s. As I always say, I am glad I was able to try it. Would I seek it out again? Probably not, but I am rather enjoying the flavors (though they are a bit one dimensional, smacking you in the face with each one, but then again isn’t that what Short’s is known for?). Not as cloying as I would expect, but would never have more than one at a time.

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

No freshness info apparent.
Poured in to tulip.

A - Poured black with one finger of tan coloured head that reduced to a thin layer.

S - Huge bourbon and oak aromas up front followed by some sweet vanilla notes. The barrel characteristics dominate the nose with only light roast aroma coming through from the base beer.

T - Bourbon and oak up front with roast, chocolate and pitted fruit notes present as well. A touch of barrel funk going on here but not enough to be distracting. More of the base beer comes through than the nose indicated.

M - Light to medium body with a slight chew. Moderate carbonation. A touch thin.

Photo of nataku00
3.13/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle poured into a tulip glass. Beer pours a dark opaque brown with barely a half a finger of light brown khaki color foamy head. Head dissipates immediately to a film and some tiny bubbles along the collar with no lacing or alcohol feet. Some fine carbonation visible at the edge of the glass.

There's some sweet milk and dark chocolate, slightly tangy dark fruit, stale coffee or cardboard like aromas, molasses, and a bit of old oak. I'm not quite sure if this is supposed to smell like this and I don't get much bourbon heat.

Taste follows the nose exactly, though maybe a little more stale bread, coffee, coming through and a touch of herbal hop bittering in the front of the tongue. I get a bit of bourbon flavor in the back end near the finish, with sweeter red fruit and caramel. Finishes pretty dry, with more stale cardboard and chocolate lingering lightly.

Light body with a nice soft carbonation, enough to contribute to a drinkable beer. Flavors are a bit weird for me though.

Photo of mikesgroove
4.18/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

dark black in color with no light shining thorough at ALL. Had the look of a monster stout with a big head of tan that capped it nicely, settling down after a few moments into a nice pillow that left tons of lacing down the sides of the glass. Aroma is hoppy at first but then comes through with a deep, roasted, and smoked note that really gives it a good bit of depth. Nice touches here of caramel, hints of cocoa, and loads of piney hops. Really nicely done and quite different then what I was expecting. Warming really brought this out and each sip was a nice progression from biting hops, mellow smoked malts, and a rich, semi sweet and dry finish.

Photo of jim102864
3.75/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A big black beer with a single finger head when poured into my Chimay goblet. Not having the most effective sniffer, I relish the brett-influenced, big sour nose. Goes down very bubbly. Bourbon barrel notes compliment this comlex brew. Interesting style. Interesting flavor.

Photo of rallison
4.29/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks, once again, to Jeff for this gem.

First off, this was entered in as a Baltic Porter? This did start life as a schwarzbier, that really ought to be the style this is classified as...this sure isn't a Baltic Porter!

Pours a cola-like dark brown with a 1/2 inch head that quickly recedes to the very outer edges.

Smells of bourbon, berries and molasses. Actually, a very tasty smelling beer.

Similar flavors to the smell with some odd similarities to cola. Not that this is necessarily bad, but it is interesting that it ended up this way. Definitely a fair amount of bourbon here, but the flavors work, so I don't mind. Coffee and some more dark fruits also present themselves.

Medium to low carbonation helps this beer from being too thin. Mind you, this is only 6.5%, so don't expect a huge body. Surprisingly, the bourbon doesn't really thin out this beer at all - I would guess this beer, without the bourbon aging, would have no more body than this, and quite possibly less. All of this helps to make this a very drinkable bourbon barrel aged beer. Slight alcohol hit at the end - in a nice, warming way.

I've not had something quite like this before, but it works well. An interesting mix of flavors with strong bourbon characteristics that make for a truly hearty schwarzbier. I can see having this with big Thanksgiving spread.

Photo of WeisGuy
3.7/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Slow's Bar BQ in Detroit

a - pours a deep brown shade with a minimal tan head, retention around the edge and very light lacing, fairly hazy

s - roast malt, bittersweet chocolate and lighter notes of oak and bourbon, the bourbon character is much more muted than I would expect

t - like the nose, deeply roasted malt and dark chocolate are the dominant flavors, some biscuity and bready flavors on the midpalate with lighter notes of oak and bourbon appearing on the finish along with more dark chocolate, the barrel character is not very pronounced, but it certainly improves the base beer in that it has added some depth to the flavors

m - medium-bodied with light carbonation, finish is well-balanced, light alcohol warming

d - pretty drinkable for a bourbon barrel aged beer, albeit a lager, definitely more interesting and complex than the base beer, but still nothing that I would need to order a second glass of

Moderately more impressed with this than the regular Sustenance and well worth a try. Btw, if you're ever in SE Michigan and aren't a vegetarian, you owe it to yourself to get to Slow's Bar BQ, where the beer list is very good and the food is amazing.

Photo of camil1mj
3.37/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle served chilled. Poured into my Founders snifter.

A: Medium brown. Slight white and bubbly thin head.

S: Bourbon, caramel and malt. Some weak bourbon and oak note on the backend.

T: Messy sweetness up front that gives way to an astringent finish.

M: Thin and lighter body. Mild carbonation.

O: An improvement over the standard Sustenance. Glad I got to try it, but would not buy it again.

Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.4/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle I bought from Short's, picked up for me by the ever generous Northernbrews. You da man Jeff!
Pours black in color with just a bit of froth for a head. Smell is bourbon, cocoa and some vanilla to round it out. This smells absolutely incredible. Taste is more of the bourbon, some cocoa and a bit of roasted malts. This is very good for a schwarzbier. Very smooth and I can't even put into words how drinkable this is. It's often overstated, but I could drink this everyday, allday. Wonderful beer from Short's. Thanks again Jeff, you da man!

Photo of shand
4.44/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter.

This one gave me some headaches just wondering what to pour a bourbon-barrel aged lager into! It pours out pretty black, with a small head that quickly shrinks to the edge of the glass. The aroma? Goddamn, that's bourbon-y. The taste is also great and interesting. It is very strong on the bourbon at first, but goes interestingly tart pretty quick. The finish cancels out the tartness for some roasted malts and some more of the bourbon flavors (and a touch of wood). The body is extremely light, especially for a beer with such a bourbon taste. It works with that tartness in the middle though. The drinkability is good. What an interesting brew from Shorts, I was a little skeptical, but it works out better than I expected.

Photo of Rhettroactive
3.37/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From 12oz bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 4/7/12
*From notes

A: A dark shade of brown. A good pour yields a loose 1.25 finger head. Thin collar, no lacing.

S: A shit ton of bourbon and not a whole lot else. Which is awesome. If you like bourbon.

T: Pretty much the same as the nose. The beer is nothing more then a delivery device for the barreled spirit that was housed prior to the beer. Though I kind of dig it, the thing I want to know is why? Why would someone looking for bourbon drink a beer smothered by bourbon when they can simply drink....bourbon? I guess I should note that the back of this is a bit tangy - some mouth watering red fruit, which leaves an unwanted finish lingering on my palate.

M: It's ok, I guess. Thinner then I'd like for a bourbon barreled beer. But for a standard Schwarzbier, it's not half bad.

O: Just another weirdy from Short's. What the fuck are they smoking up there in Bellaire? Who comes up with these off-the-wall offerings? Some are pretty cool and tasty. Some, like this, are merely passable. And others (as many of you know) are absolutely terrible. I give 'em credit for not backing down from their outside-the-box way of thinking, but there comes a point where you just want a God damn beer.

Add this to the list of "middle of the road" Short's offerings. Hey, I consider it a win when my drain doesn't share a Short's with me.

Photo of GbVDave
4.38/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle (even though the label says "22oz") into a thick stemmed DFH snifter. Special thanks to joshuaseresse for this from our trade!

A: Pours a deep black with some faint lightening at the edges. Capping the darkness is two fingers of lovely, dark khaki cream that rose, ever so slightly, over the rim of the glass. The head stuck around for ages, fed by a fair amount of carbonation. Some lacey ropes were left behind.

S: Quite apparent (but not obnoxiously so) bourbon aroma when first poured. Bourbon and charred oak are the main attraction here with ample supporting help from heavily roasted malt, toffee, dark chocolate, toasted nuts, and a touch of coffee.

T: Much like above but with an excellent addition of vanilla to the mix. Caramel, dark fruit, bourbon and chocolate. Very nice!

M: Starts off sweet and quite sticky. As the bottle wore on I noticed that it became slightly drier and quite spicy. It also thinned slightly from the initial pour, making it easier and easier to drink.

D: The low abv and sorta thinnish (read: not RIS) mouthfeel make for one hell of a drinkable bourbon barrel aged beer. Totally sessionable...and frigging delicious!

Photo of sukwonee
3.98/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark Brown to black body with 1 finger head, good amount of lacing

S: Bourbon, chocolate, Breadiness, some cheese? I smell something like a chocolate cheesecake.

T: I cannot say I have ever had anything like this before. Starts off with bourbon, chocolate, slight booziness, sweet malt, then some sourness kicking in. Sour apple maybe? Finishes off with more booziness. Sweetness is also there.

M: It's thin but syrupy. Carbonation is pretty sharp for a bourbon aged beer. Finishes dry.

O: I would say, this beer is very solid. I am not sure though what the hell I just drank though haha (not familar with the style and such style beer aged in bourbon barrel).

Photo of hopswap1
4.04/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle from Nachos4two, Thanks!

Pours dark brown almost black with finger of head that shrinks rather quickly. Smell is a big punch of sweet bourbon with a little bit of chocolate. Wow is that bourbony. Taste follows the nose with a big bourbon presence with a slightly boozy taste. The beer is rather thin but surprising amounts of carbonation. Overall, a beer unlike any I've had. Not an incredible beer but definitely one of a kind and worth a try. Wouldn't mind drinking this frequently.

Photo of SportsandJorts
4.05/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: black, maybe dark mahogany. A small tannish head that fades quickly and leaves nothing behind. Completely opaque.

Smell: mostly bourbon. Maybe some chocolate.

Taste: lots of bourbon. Low alcohol. Some chocolate. Very smooth.

Mouthfeel: very light. A little bit of lager aspect to it.

Overall: a nice light bourbon barrel beer. Pretty light and nicely simple. Some lager aspects to it in taste and feel. I'd say it's a strong bourbon tasting beer with very little others tastes and very low other character.

Photo of qua17
4.15/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle - brewed in 2011

Appearance – This beer is dark as motor oil. It poured out with a 2 inch head that dissipated and left a haze of lacing.

Smells – - Aged in Bourbon barrels, you catch a light bourbon smell that is sweet in character. It's almost candy-like, kinda like a dark brown sugar.

Taste – Aged in Bourbon barrels, there is a heavy sweetness that mellows out after the swallow. While this is a dark beer it's more like an ale than a porter or stout. The beer isn't as heavy and it lacks the dryness that sometimes come with those beers.

Mouthfeel – A lot of body but not creamy or think. Decent amount of carbonation.

Overall – Not my type of beer. I read the notes about the style and I didn't get any of the hops that are supposed to be present. I was also not a big fan of the sweetness so while I'm glad I tried it, I would be ordering it again. It's almost like a port - but lighter.

Serving type: bottle

Photo of hopdog
4.57/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thank you Derek for this 22oz bottle!

Poured a dark brownish color with an averaged sized off white head. Aromas of wood/oak, vanilla, some bourbon, nutty, chocoalte, roast, and earthy. Tastes of vanilla, bourbon, dark fruits, chocolate, nuts, roast, and wood. Very nice!

Notes from 5/20/08

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Short's Bourbon Barrel Sustenance Black Beer from Short's Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 197 ratings.