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

Short's Bourbon Barrel Sustenance Black BeerShort's Bourbon Barrel Sustenance Black Beer

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

175 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 175
Reviews: 79
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 10.67%


Brewed by:
Short's Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Schwarzbier |  6.50% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes/Commercial Description:
Sustenance Black Beer aged it in bourbon barrels for 11 months.

(Beer added by: Baileyuk on 04-28-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 175 | Reviews: 79 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Lauthaha
Lauthaha

Michigan

4.7/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a good old beer mug.

Appearance: Poured at a 45 degree angle, about 1/2 a finger of murky, mellow head. Perfectly opaque; dark brown color with visible resiliency. A bit skimpy on the lacing, but otherwise an amazing looking beer.

Smell: I feel like I've entered some outstanding celestial bakery. Sweet scents of vanilla and chocolate, a light fruit undertone and rounding out the bouquet, the spicy flavor of bourbon permeating the beverage.

Taste: Unbelievable. Bold, rich; I taste all the flavors that I smelled previously. This could be the best beer I've tasted in several months. The malt helps to emphasize the flavor as well.

Mouthfeel: Robust and very carbonated. It sizzles on the tongue with a subtly-sharp ambiance. Goes down smooth despite the heavy quality to the beer; the bottle didn't lie when it said this beer is great for when you're thirsty, great for when you're hungry.

Drinkability: I could drink one of these every night. I only bought one 12 ounce, but I'm sure that I could make a night of it if I had a 6-pack. Near perfect.

I was surprised by this beer; I haven't had good luck with black beers in the past, and was looking forward to another mediocre expedition. Thankfully, Short's has a high standard, and this was no exception. Amazing!

Serving type: bottle

05-29-2010 01:51:17 | More by Lauthaha
Photo of TheBlackMallard
TheBlackMallard

Minnesota

4.58/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

"For When You're Hungry and Thirsty"

I love this label.

Pours black with a small off white head.

Smell: Carafa and Crystal Malts, Caramel, with just a hint of Bourbon.

Taste: Chocolate, Vanilla, and Brown Sugar. Slight oaky aftertaste. If I didn't know this was barrel aged I wouldn't have guessed. It blends so well into the beer. Light bodied and very easy to drink.

I hope the regular Sustenance makes a return so I can compare. If memory serves me right most of the difference is in the finish with mild vanilla notes being the main difference in the taste.

Serving type: bottle

05-10-2008 01:17:10 | More by TheBlackMallard
Photo of ffejherb
ffejherb

Pennsylvania

4.58/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured via 22oz. bomber at the Bullfrog Liquid Sunshine Reserva release. Big thanks to iceicebaby for sharing!

A - Poured a translucent chocolate brown body with walnut and mahogany accents and a slim beige head that reduced to a patchy retention and left a bit of lace around the glass.

S - Initial aroma released a waft of bourbon and vanilla goodness with a bit of chocolate sweetness. Malt presence is akin to Rice Krispies. Some caramel notes are also present.

T - This is simply a delicious schwarzbier with a subtle bourbon presence and lots of vanilla sweetness, but not overpowering at all. Crisp, rice-like malt with chocolate in the very backend through to the finish. Finish with just a slight astringent character and alcohol warmth.

M - Medium bodied and softly carbonated. Extremely smooth and creamy texture, although perhaps a bit thin in the mouthfeel overall. Alcohol presence is quite subtle.

D - This is a beautiful bourbon soaked beer from Short's, to say the least. Really glad I had the opportunity to try this, as I've loved everything I've had from Short's in the past, especially their dark beers. Drinkability is off the charts!

Serving type: bottle

07-06-2009 01:25:06 | More by ffejherb
Photo of hopdog
hopdog

Pennsylvania

4.55/5  rDev +12.9%
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

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2008 02:06:44 | More by hopdog
Photo of Lothore
Lothore

California

4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a clear dark brown / blackish hue with little to no head.

S- Smell is fairly faint, non destinct sweetness along with a small roasted malt backbone.

T- Now this is what i'm talking about! Roasted sweetness followed by deep candied fruit notes mixed with dark chocolate. This is all tied off with a nice roasty coffee-esque flavor. Definitely subtle yet delicious.

M- Medium viscosity with quite a bit of carbonation.

D- This is definitely an easy and balanced drinker. I was a little worried about this being heavy but it isn't at all. All in all an excellent brew!~

Serving type: bottle

06-08-2008 00:08:54 | More by Lothore
Photo of joshuaseresse
joshuaseresse

Minnesota

4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle brought back from my trip to Michigan. Drank after the golden delicious...at around 12:30pm on a Sunday...

A - A thick head with a pour, retains about a inch or so of head after the pour and holds onto it for a while. Black and brown with a ruby hue. Slight lacing retention.

S - Fresh bourbon and a little sweet toffee, carmael and light brown sugar.

T - Zesty vanilla and a bit earthy. Only slight bit of bourbon. Suprising difference between the smell and taste in that I expected the taste to follow the smell, but it was only slightly the case. Very enjoyable though.

M - Lighter than I thought based on the nose and the taste. I expected it to feel thicker than it was. The carbonation is perfect and crisp, easy and enjoyable to drink.

D - A very nice treat. The senses say one thing while the texture says something different. Very complex and a nice suprise. I'm very please and wish I bought more.

Serving type: bottle

10-24-2010 21:04:22 | More by joshuaseresse
Photo of warnerry
warnerry

Michigan

4.45/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

02-19-2011 01:45:50 | More by warnerry
Photo of shand
shand

Florida

4.45/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

08-06-2012 03:29:22 | More by shand
Photo of BigDaddyWil
BigDaddyWil

Michigan

4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Brewery release only for the Short's Fourth Anniversary party. Only 350 bottles.
Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a tasting snifter.
The brewery confirmed that this is Schwarzbier that was aged 11 months in a bourbon barrel. The beer was 6.3% abv before barrel aged.

Pours a very dark caramel color, with some copper highlights around the egdes. Half inch, off white head forms, but dissapates quickly. Some spotty lacing is left behind.
Aromas of dark bitter roasted malts upfront, with the bourbon taking a backseat. As the beer warms, more aromas of bourbon, oak, and vanilla come through.
Very nice balanced barrel aged beer!! The bourbon blends well with this lager. Neither one dominates the flavor. This is how bourbon aged beers should taste!! You can pick out the roasted malt flavors, and the bourbon seems to complement this schwarzbier perfectly. More bourbon, oak, and vanilla flavors peak through as the beer warms.
The mouthfeel is a little thin, slightly oily, but thats par for the style. This black bier holds up well to the bourbon. This is the first barrel aged beer I've had, that doesn't leave you feeling full.
Extremely easy too drink, due to the lighter body and alcohol. I don't know what the final abv is after barrel aging, but its hidden quite well. There is a hint of alcohol warmth in the finish.
Overall, a fantastic barrel aged lager and another fine beer from Short's Brewing Co!

Serving type: bottle

05-01-2008 12:49:26 | More by BigDaddyWil
Photo of FtownThrowDown
FtownThrowDown

Ohio

4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
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!

Serving type: bottle

06-07-2009 02:16:50 | More by FtownThrowDown
Photo of GbVDave
GbVDave

Illinois

4.4/5  rDev +9.2%
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!

Serving type: bottle

10-21-2010 23:27:26 | More by GbVDave
Photo of gford217
gford217

Georgia

4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of HiAIPA and armchairboogie poured into a pilsner glass.

A: Pours deep, deep mahogany with a bubbly two-finger tan head that lingers for a little while and leaves a trace of lacing.

S: Smell is complex and interesting with bourbon definitely showing up and burning the nose a little. There is also tons of dark fruit with raisins and even grapes on top a very sweet malt base with brown sugar as well.

T: Taste is just as interesting as the nose with an initial sweetness of sugar and caramel. Dark fruits show throughout on top of a roasted malt base before giving way to a tingling alcohol finish.

M: Mouthfeel is medium bodied with good carbonation and leaves a sticky sweet aftertaste tinged with booze.

D: This is one of the best schwarzbiers I've ever had and I think the bourbon barrel use is very well done. This is my first Shorts brew and I'm looking forward to more. Highly recommended!

Serving type: bottle

08-26-2008 00:19:53 | More by gford217
Photo of Georgiabeer
Georgiabeer

Georgia

4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Interesting beer. The lighter body of a schwarzbier gives an entirely different mouthfeel and drinking experience than most other, heavier bourbon barrel beers. Like it or dislike it, it's certainly a different approach. I happen to like it- at least for a change of pace, but I don't think it reaches the heights of the best bourbon barrel beers. Pours black with some ruby highlights and a short head. Smells of some very light graininess, lightly of bourbon, and with some dark chocolate. Tastes light and clean with noticeable bourbon, but on the lighter side. Quite dry in style. The beer is also slightly astringent and soft with a clean roasted grain flavor throughout. Soft and light in the mouth with a cocoa finish, very easy to drink. A nice surprise.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2009 23:14:23 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of webmanspidey
webmanspidey

Michigan

4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a growler at Short's. Dark black color with a tan head. Smell is a combination of vanilla, oak, and caramel. Bourbon is also present. Taste is a nice mix of vanilla and oak again. Very buttery. Probably the lightest bourbon aged beer I've tried. Very sweet and mellow with more hints of molasses and caramel. Very good.

Serving type: growler

08-17-2010 21:03:40 | More by webmanspidey
Photo of rallison
rallison

California

4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-02-2008 06:20:17 | More by rallison
Photo of koopa
koopa

New Jersey

4.28/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 bomber received in a trade with FlandersNed who is awesome!

Appearance: Black body with 2 finger creamy beige crown composed of fine carbonation. Lots of retention and tons of lace!

Smell: Beautifully refined soft bourbon notes, lots of oakiness, a touch of anise, but a large cinnamon like quality and some lightly sour notes. This is fantastic!

Taste: Nice dark roast malt with a slight sourness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Deliciously creamy and on the light side of medium with ample carbonation.

Drinkability: btw the lower abv and the outstanding mouthfeel, I could drink this all day.

Serving type: bottle

09-01-2009 23:45:35 | More by koopa
Photo of joe1510
joe1510

Illinois

4.28/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

22oz Bomber

Recieved this in an ongoing trade with hoppymeal, thanks again Derek! Sustenance pours black with deep chestnut highlights when backlit. A creamy two fingers worth of mocha head rose on the pour and as it slowly fell left thick sheet lacing down the glass. Each drink leaves great, thick drink lines behind. The head eventually settles to a half finger cap atop the black body.

The first thing that hits my nose is the effects of the barrel "soaking" as the bottle implies. Damp oak, bourbon, and vanilla come forward in that order of intensity and although the barrel aging is most prominent it's soft and allows the schwarz to come through nicely. Each swirl of the glass brings along a solid roastiness and espresso. A mouthwatering beer the second I bury my nose in the glass.

Flavor keeps in stride with the aroma. Roastiness and coffee grounds upfront lay the foundation for the barrel aging. The maltiness is present throughout the drink allowing the bourbon to be a complimenting, as opposed to dominating, characteristic. The damp oak falls back compared to the aroma. The bourbon is brought to the front, followed closely by vanilla, and last but certainly not least is the damp oakiness. The bourbon finishes things off with a nice heat and hit of booziness. This is a super high quality schwarz from Short's.

One of the reasons I love schwarz biers is the body. This follows stride with some of the best but adds a bit of creaminess from the barrel aging. Medium body that leaves a slickness on the tongue.

For a barrel aged beer this is highly drinkable. The lighter body and a manageable abv keep this flowing without a problem. As a matter of fact I'm drinking this glass way too fast. I can't slow down.

I thought this would be a good beer, just as all Short's beers are, but I didn't expect to be drinking something so good. This is a phenomenal beer. So many barrel aged beers are over the top in whatever liquid the barrel previously held but Short's hit it on the head here. Another great beer from a brewery that's becoming one of my favorites with every passing beer I drink.

Reviewed: 6/7/08

Serving type: bottle

08-18-2013 23:03:22 | More by joe1510
Photo of kbeals
kbeals

North Carolina

4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours black (big surprise!) with two fingers of light brown head. Head sticks around for quite a while leaving good amounts of lacing. This beer looks pretty good...

S- Rich flavors of vanilla and cocoa rounded out with a nice dose of bourbon. This bottles only been sitting for 10 months, but the bourbon character is still predominant. Also has hints of dark fruits in it.

T- Bourbon up front in the flavor. Vanilla and roasted cocoa to top it off. Dark fruits don't really come through much but it's not really needed. This beer tastes fantastic as it is.

M- A bit watered down for how much flavor there is. I would say light-medium body at best. not much carbonation.

D- Pretty good but the ABV catches up to you fast. Wasn't really expecting it to hit me like that.

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2010 21:34:26 | More by kbeals
Photo of sholland119
sholland119

Pennsylvania

4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one from dashirey for Powerball. Thanks, Dain! Shared this one with Deuane, SierraGS and vickster529.

A-Pours dark brown, opaque, with a thin tan head. No real lacing.

S-A bold tart oakiness is somewhat balanced by a bit of dark chocolate.

T-Very tasty. Roasty and tart up front with a very strong oak presence. Following this, some nice cherry notes sneak in, followed by a roasted coffee finish.

M-Medium bodied and dry.

D-Nicely tart and tasty. A bourbon barrel schwarzbier is a bold concept but well executed here.

HV

Serving type: bottle

08-25-2009 17:54:11 | More by sholland119
Photo of kzoobrew
kzoobrew

Michigan

4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

enjoyed at Short's 07/31/10, review input from notes.

Deep brown body in the glass, lets face it a Schwarzbier is rarely black. Slim cafe au lait colored head. Retention is not a strong suit, thought a light ring is left around the edge. Scattered lacing through out but not particularly impressive.

Bourbon is evident right off the bat. While the bourbon stands out it is not overwhelming. Roasted malt and a bitter chocolate aroma are able to shine through and balance the aroma.

Much the same as in the nose, bourbon but balance. My first barrel aged beer from Short's and I am impressed. Like any good -bal beer the bourbon should be very evident but not overwhelming, this is certainly the case. With every sip the bourbon is noted but allows the flavor of the beer to remain recognizable. Combination of roasted and bready malt. Vanilla and a woodiness contributed from the barrel. The booze is light and slightly warming.

The body is lighter than most barrel aged beers I have encountered. Medium bodied. remains light despite the booziness of the bourbon. Carbonation is on the lower end but fits well.

Very good beer, I would have enjoyed another glass but there were too many other options on tap. Worth a try if available to you.

Serving type: on-tap

08-29-2010 18:05:41 | More by kzoobrew
Photo of johnd513
johnd513

Michigan

4.18/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown with a small frothy tan head. The smell is a huge sour bourbon and vinegar aroma more pungent than any barrel aged beer I have come across. The taste begins with oak flavors followed by cocoa, alcohol and sour flavors. The mouthfeel is crisp and goes down easy with significant carbonation that tingles the tongue. Drinkability is good. I would not have more than on of these in a sitting but this is truly one of the most unique beers I have had to date.

Serving type: bottle

06-22-2009 23:23:16 | More by johnd513
Photo of mikesgroove
mikesgroove

South Carolina

4.18/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2011 02:57:47 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of JohnQVegas
JohnQVegas

Tennessee

4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle into snifter, then into another snifter to keep from gushing. Thanks to Jon (aqsprint) for the chance to try this very interesting beer!

Let this one warm up a bit before trying it. You'll be glad you did.

Pours black, dense light khaki head that settles into a dense but thin cap.

Nose has quite a bit of lemony brett, some green apple, vanilla from the bourbon comes through underneath. I don't know what it is about it, but I couldn't quit smelling it. The fruity brett notes are so nice in this one.

Taste is very unique. I have no idea as to whether the sourness is intentional or not; whether it is or it isn't, the result is a beer that doesn't taste quite like any I've tried before.

Initial taste is mix of big time bourbon and oak, a funky sour note that combines some lemony brett notes with a big lacto sour note, and an underlying dry, chocolatey, lightly roasty body that seems just a bit smokey. Finish is sour, acidic, lingering, notes of oak, some roasty bitterness in there as well though not much escapes the wildness. My guess is this guy was infected accidentally, though I don't know that for sure. Regardless, I don't want to stop drinking it, even if just to try and pick everything in it apart. Really interesting beer.

Mouthfeel is crisp, lighter body, bit acidic, pretty nice.

Drinkability is a tossup. Some really drinkable elements, but it's so unique I'm not sure how to grade it. I'm really glad I tried this. Such a unique beer, and by the time it really warmed up, I think it really came into its own.

Serving type: bottle

06-06-2009 21:23:31 | More by JohnQVegas
Photo of msubulldog25
msubulldog25

Oregon

4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Have held this bottle inexplicably longer than I'd intended; it came as a very nice gesture from a Michigan BA I met several months back when he and a buddy visited Portland (thanks, marc2572). It's 22 oz. with a label design just like the photo, except the background is a rendering from above of three people finishing dinner and drinks at a large, round table. Poured to a pilsner glass.

'Handcrafted by people Who Care in Northern Michigan'

'Bourbon Barrel Soaked Sustenance Black Beer: For When You're Hungry and Thirsty'

A: Even in a tall pilsner glass the first impression is darkness, a thick charcoal. Held to light, warmer chestnut and ruby glow inside a light fog. Unsure of the age of this one in the bottle (but it's been at least 6 months since it was received), but the carbonation has held up very nicely, plenty of streaming bubbles to a 1-finger sandy cream. Very pretty lace holds in patchy cobwebs, draping rings.

S: The 'bourbon barrel' aroma is so tantalizing, maybe mellowed from what I suspect was some early heat (after 11 months in a barrel, I'd be fired up); now it's a drifting spiced perfume interwoven with fudgy chocolate and a vanilla-woodiness. Smells like a 'drunken' cake, perhaps a bit more like sweet rum than bourbon at this point. A time or two, I thought I smelled a twitch of oxidization, which then disappeared just as quickly.

T: Fortunately, flavor and aroma align almost precisely. Rich chocolate, coffee roast and that oakey/vanilla barrel spice, then an added layer: fruit. Earthy blackberries and unsweetened raisins(?). As above, the bourbon isn't too pronounced, the ending a lasting mild bitterness that has a bit of ashy char to it. A wicked distortion of a 'schwarzbier' (if that truly is what style was aimed for); the end result feels almost porter- or stout-like. And I'm ok with that.

M: What a nice coating mouthfeel: subdued carbonation (but by no means 'dead', creamy texture, stealthily building wood/spice/cocoa coating, and a barely-existent alcohol warmth. Velvety goodness.

D: I wondered to myself what this beer was like back in late spring/early summer and realized I really didn't care because what it is now is plenty enjoyable. Mellow and soothing, a fine way to celebrate an awesome 105-102 Blazers win over Phoenix - the best game I've seen live in several seasons. Not the 'prototypical' schwarzbier, but so what? Would love to try this one again someday...worth seeking!

Serving type: bottle

12-18-2009 08:35:35 | More by msubulldog25
Photo of taylorhamrick
taylorhamrick

South Carolina

4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got in a trade from hotpipes29.

Pours a nice dark brown color, nearly black, it would fool me if not for the ruby highlights around the edges. A small head (1cm or maybe less) forms on top, with loose bubbles, that fade quickly, no lacing. But I can see plenty of bubbles rising up in the beer. The smell hits you with an incredible sweetness, backed up with a very nice bourbon smell. Like chocolate, a little coffee, and a big whiff of bourbon. Otherwise, very clean. The taste comes back with that nice sweetness, a very clean straightforward roasty character, almost no yeast character to speak of, no hoppy presence, just a nice mellow flavor of bourbon. I mean, don't get me wrong, you know the bourbon is there, but it really fits well into this beer. Very nice. The body is right around medium, maybe a little thin, with a nice burst of carbonation. The bourbon does a nice job coating your mouth, but overall, the sweetness keeps it in check. Really, I don't know if there's anything off for the bourbon, but there isn't really anything that stands out. For a bourbon-barrel aged schwarzbier, this seems right on, and I don't know if anyone else makes one, but this is a really nice beer.

Serving type: bottle

07-07-2010 22:18:57 | More by taylorhamrick
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Short's Bourbon Barrel Sustenance Black Beer from Short's Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 175 ratings.