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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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

80 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 80
Hads: 199
Avg: 3.97
pDev: 10.83%
Wants: 56
Gots: 25 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Short's Brewing Company
Michigan, United States | website

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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 80 | Hads: 199
Photo of seaoflament
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to hoppymeal for sending me this extra and the opportunity to try this brew.

Pours a dark caramel color and looks like a cola based soda in the glass. The edges show hues of ruby and scarlet when held to the light. A very fizzy head accumulated and reaches a good 2 inches in height, somewhat good retention but then settled to a very thin layer.

First I got notes of grapes and some vinous aromas, vanilla, and a bit of roasted malts. After the beer settles in the glass I get some weird, or should I say interesting, notes of nuts, some type of powder (sugar maybe?), caramel, earthy hops, fresh hops, mineral water, and notes of oak/wood. I can say for sure that I have never smelled a beer like this one before, weird, but in a good way. It has a particular note on the nose that reminds me of sour beers, something like Temptation (weird huh?). After a while I can detect hints of sugar coated berries.

Tasting it is quite a bit different from the aroma. I taste a good amount of roasted malts, caramel, hints of roasted barley (or the hop bitterness combining with the roasted malts), nutty malts, toast, almonds, and some grapes in the finish and aftertaste. A little more roasted, burnt, almost charred malts can be tasted after a few sips. The beer also start to develop some vinous, grape, flavors that seem really odd with the roasted malts. I'm also beginning to taste come cola flavors...not really doing it for me. A little more bourbon on the tongue after the beer warms up, woodsy and fruity.

The mouth-feel is not the best it could be. The over-carbonation stings the tongue a bit, at least at first, and it feels fizzy. There's also a little alcohol warmth in the back of the throat. The flavors also seem a little rough.

Definitely and odd one, but it wouldn't be a Short's Brew if it wasn't odd.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.58/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed on 6/29/2010. On tap at Shorts. Pours a dark brown with a thick tan head. Aroma of bourbon and chocolate malts. Flavor of bourbon up front, sweet roasted malt, chocolate malt, and milky marshmallows. Not bad, one of the better bourbon barrel aged beers to me (minus the aroma which was a bit potent).

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Photo of afdempse
3.6/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to FlanderNed for the trade, and Huhzubendah for sharing!

Pours thick & black, with a creamy tan head.

Lots of vanilla in the nose, along with oak & slight alcohol.

Flavor begins with vanilla up front, followed by sweet bourbon, malt, toasted oak and vanilla extract. Warming alcohol in the throat and sandalwood in the breath. There is a slight bitterness and sour notes throughout that distract attention away from the beer's better characteristics.

Mouthfeel is not quite as full as I'd expect from a beer like this, and I'd prefer a smoother finish, but then again, who's ever tried to barrel-age a Schwarzbier before? Kudos to Short's for pushing the envelope.

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Photo of corby112
3.65/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From notes:

Pours pitch black and completely opaque without even the slightest hint of lighter color when held to a light source. Quite viscous looking with a half finger mocha colored head that quickly settles into a lasting ring. Sporadic spots of lacing left behind.

Intensely boozy aroma with a huge barrel presence. Lots of sweet boozy bourbon along with some earthy oak and faint vanilla. Underneath there is a slight smokey malt presence with hints of chocolate, toffee and roasted coffee bean but the nose of this beer is all about the bourbon.

Medium bodied and slightly viscous with a very prominent bourbon flavor. Again, as in the aroma, the barrel character dominates the flavor with a burst of hot, boozy bourbon that lingers throughout, slightly overpowering the other flavors. Slight earthy oak and faint vanilla/toasted coconut but the bourbon and hot alcohol overtake these notes pretty quickly. Underneath there is a roasted chocolate malt presence with hints of roasted coffee bean, toffee and oatmeal. Slightly smokey which provides some balance to the sweet bourbon but overall this beer is just a bit too much of a bourbon bomb for my liking.

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Photo of mothman
3.65/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours into Stone Old Guardian Glass

Pours 1 finger of khaki head. Good retention and lace. Color is black.

Aroma: Bourbon and some heat. Smoked malts with caramel, chocolate, sweet cocoa, and roasted malts.

Taste: Bourbon and oak. Very warm. Caramel and toffee malts. Chocolate flavors as well. Big malt profile here.

Mouthfeel: Warm, dry, and oaky. Medium bodied with a low to medium amount of carbonation. Ends very warm.

Overall, this one is hot and not too drinkable. Interesting, but I am not too crazy for it. Still, I was happy to have tried this one.

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Photo of stakem
3.66/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle care of Dunt, this has been on my wants list for quite a long time. Thanks for the generosity man!

Poured into a pub glass, this brew appears a dark brown to black color. A finger of tan head sits atop the brew and quickly fades to a thin layering across the top with spots of lace sticking to the glass. When held to the light, some brown and reddish clarity is seen through the edges. A light swirl brings back nearly a finger of tan head.

The smell of this brew is very heavy on the barrel aged presence. It is absolutely pungent with nearly perfume-like vanilla quality. More smells reveal a tangy alcohol inclusion, a bit of licorice and some roasted grain elements minorly like coffee. Throughout the entire duration, the vanilla is so pungent, it is almost artificial smelling and a little off-putting. When swirled, a bit of a sulfur note comes out of the brew.

The taste is robust with whiskey infused alcoholic tangy character. A bit of roasted grain bitterness and an equally bold display of vanilla flavoring. There is some oaked flavoring present throughout which balanced the bitterness and seeming sweet vanilla inclusion. As the brew warms up, the alcohol inclusion gets increasingly more tangy which is interesting. The aftertaste is the only feature minorly reminiscent of a schwarzbier with some roasted quality mixed with a touch of citrus.

This is a medium to light bodied brew with a moderate to light level of carbonation. The alcohol hits with a strenght that seems more than the listed 6.5%. Overall this opened up very impressive but sort of fell apart as it warmed up. The barrel aged presence while enjoyable is very overpowering. If that is the sort of thing you look for in barrel aged beers you might really dig this brew (which normally is the case for me.) For some reason this one just didnt drive it all the way home like I was hoping. Regardless it is worth a try if you get the chance. Thanks again Dunt.

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Photo of WeisGuy
3.7/5  rDev -6.8%
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.

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Photo of FosterJM
3.7/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1336th Review on BA
Bottle to Mug
12 oz

Thanks to ErikKoppin for this one

App- A nice darker brown pour with some decent density and a bit of red around the edges. A small 1/4-1/2 in head was there and then left. No lace or cling.

Smell- A good amount of bourbon is there on the nose with a little bit of a peat/smokey malt. Wasnt a nose basher by anymeans, just a bit light and one dimensional.

Taste- I like the fact that the bourbon is more prevalant on the taste and that the smoke takes a back seat. A little bit of plum and fig came in on the back of the flavors.

Mouth- A lighter medium with a light carbonation. A bit prickly with some residual bourbon/smoke being felt.

Drink- It was okay. Wasnt a wow but wasnt bad. I not being a fan of schwarzbiers came into this with an open mind. I wouldnt mind another bottle to age though.

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Photo of SaucyA
3.71/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A - Into da snifta. Black with minimal ruby highlights around the edges. Giant tan head.

S - Uh oh. This is the first bottle I've opened in a while and lemme say that something's a little off. At first whiff, I smell JP wild yeast. Dark malts, slight bourbon notes. Vanilla.

T - Yup. This is officially not the beer I drank 6 months ago. While it's not bad, the barrel definitely managed to throw some wild yeast into the mix. What once was a KBS-light is now a SFTO Wine-light. Sour notes, but it actually isn't bad... just not the beast it once was.

M - Light, carbonated, airy. Overly carbonated from the magical bugs in here.

D - Surprisingly good. I'm gonna hold onto my last couple bottles to see what it transforms into.

Notes: When I first drank this at the Anniversary Party, it was 100% different. Some beasties managed to change it, but not necessarily for the bad... it's not a gross infection, but it's not the brew Joe was intending. Hell, I'm gonna continue to enjoy it despite the issues.

To be honest, if it was going for the wild characteristic, it'd have gotten a higher rating in my eyes. While it wasn't anticipated, I can't stress enough that it's not bad at all.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
3.72/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

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Photo of brew3crew
3.72/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In line at founders for CBS

A-black body with a tan head that quickly disapates

S-delicious! Sweet bourbony smell that mixes in well with the rest if the beer

T-disappointment from the smell. Weird after taste that can't be fingered

M-medium body and smooth

O-decent beer that smells great

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Photo of Stevedore
3.74/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle from the most recent 2013 release (no bottle date), generously given to me by fellow BA Benish. Poured into an unlabeled snifter today, 9/1/2013.

Pours a dark black, opaque body with a 1cm brown head that dissipates into a fairly thick brown collar. Not much lacing to speak of. Very dark looking brew.

Smells like sweet bourbon. Not much smoke or roastiness at all here. A bit of earthiness in the background.. must be the hops. But pretty much a sweet nose here. Not much oak or vanilla- just that sweet bourbon, a bit of chocolate and just a wee bit of roast malts.

Tastes like sweet bourbon mixed in with some caramel and toffee. Tasty brew that kind of reminds me of Jack and Coke, to be honest. Not much vanilla or oak here which I would have expected from a bourbon barrel beer, even if they call it "soaked" on the label. Interesting, pleasant, not super complex but tasty.

Mouthfeel on this is medium bodied, good carbonation. Its a bit slick and resinous, covers my tongue in sweet bourbon flavour. It's surprisingly low ABV which I don't get, with all that sweet bourbon! I guess this is part of the charm here. At the same time its a bit of a sipper just because of that flavour... you sip bourbon, right?

Interesting beer. Not meant to be compared to say, Bourbon County Stout or anything like that, but on its own this is an interesting, flavourful beer. I enjoyed it, and I recommend it to anyone who likes a lighter beer with some bourbon flavour in it. It holds up well surprisingly despite the relatively thin body and malt presence.

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Photo of jim102864
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

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Photo of tpd975
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to my boy BeerTruth for supplying for first Short's Brew.

A: Pours a dark black hue almost the shade of a cup of coffee. The head is rather small with little retention. Some very light spotty lace is noted.

S: Very light aromas. What is there is very much about the barrel. Notes of Oak, vanilla, and bourbon meld nice with roasted malt.

T: Lots of light toasted oak up front. Hints of vanilla and bourbon come next. A slight sourness comes thru in the middle with a blast of dark fruit and toasted malt in the finish.

M: Medium in body, smooth.

D: Not bad at all. Can't wait to try a few more Short's brews.

Thanks Adam!

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Photo of BeerTruth
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to iceicebaby for two bottles of this limited brew.

22 oz. bomber poured into a standard pint glass.

Pours a dark brown with ruby highlights and a one finger khaki colored head that quickly dies down to a thin layer of bubbles that remains. Lacing is just about non-existant, meh. Smell is interesting; cherries, wet charred oak, and bourbon up front. Aromas of caramel, roasted nuts, and moist cardboard hit the nose as well. Just an overall unique beer to whiff. Luckily the beer improves drastically after first sip. Smokey sweet malts, brown sugar, and molasses hit the tongue right off. The smooth bourbon flavors emerge midway with a hefty oak backbone. Aftertaste consists of dark fruits; figs, raisins, and dates. Light body with a strong carbonation that stings the entire mouth. I was expecting a smoother feel to it seeing it's a barrel aged beer, but that's what I get for assuming. The smell actually makes this beer difficult for me to drink. I've never experienced a beer that varies so much from nose to tongue. Interesting beer for sure that seems to be all over the place, but what else can you expect from Short's? Glad I had the opportunity to try this one though. Not sure about aging this, but I have a bottle in the cellar that I'll pull out in a few months and see how much it's changed.

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Photo of kbutler1
3.8/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draft. Stopped in the brewery and had a little sampler of several beers. Very similiar to the regular version with the exception of the bourbon flavors and notes. Very distinct bourbon notes in the nose. Fairly strong bourbon flavors in the taste along with vanilla and chocolate. Very smooth. Tan head with good lace. Medium/heavy mouthfeel.

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Photo of nickd717
3.85/5  rDev -3%
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.

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Photo of sailbretthd
3.85/5  rDev -3%
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.

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Photo of DannyDan
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A. Pours a brownish black body with a thick tan head that disappears pretty quickly. It has very good retention, decent lacing and minimal carbonation.
S. The smell is some dark fruits, chocolate, and bourbon.
T. The taste is some bitter chocolate, followed by some coffee, dark fruits, and bourbon. It also has an earthy hops taste under the dark fruits and bourbon. A nicely well balanced taste.
M. A nice smooth and creamy beer that sticks to the lips and tongue.
O. A nice easy drinking beer that feels a lot lighter than a lot of stouts and porters, a nice winter drink when you don't want something real heavy. A nice winner from Short's, and I'll have to remember to try this on tap since I think it will be really creamy.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Received in trade from jtrockchalk in the Black Booty Bif, Thanks for the opportunity!

Pours a deep dark brown with the faintest of ruby highlights and a huge bubbly off white head that sticks around forever. Smells of lemony citrus, bourbon, vanilla, faint bit of bretty horsehair, and cocoa. Slightly sour on the nose, is that supposed to be there, or did some bugs hitch a ride from barrel to bottle? This would certainly explain the spirited carbonation. Taste is a bit sour with some chocolate, bourbon, and vanilla thrown in. Carbonation is quite high, body is medium but filled with bubbles, mouthfeel is creamy but slick. I enjoyed this one, but I'm not sure its a schwartzbier anymore. Very flavorful, but the carbonation ruins the mouthfeel for me. I'd love to try a fresh bottle if someone wants to send me another.

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Photo of Urbancaver
3.91/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

thank you jale for this treat!

Appearance- Dark brown with minimal head. Reddish hues on the edges

Smell- Smoked malt with a hint of bourbon on the nose

Taste- Rich thick smoked maltiness with a touch of bourbon

Mouthfeel- Very smooth with low carbonation

Drinkability- Very drinkable

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Photo of hopsolutely
3.92/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, almost opaque black with red highlights at the edge of the glass. Very little head, and low carbonation yielding a silky but otherwise unremarkable mouthfeel.

Stellar aroma of roasted dark malts and aged barrel tannin smokiness. The flavour is equally well delivered, a sweet caramelized & toasted malt portfolio with a well balanced vanilla & oak background and a decent hop bitterness at the end. The finish is pleasantly dry with a slight & surprising black licorice note and lingers for an impressive length of time.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

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Photo of alexgash
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle.

Dark root beer brown body with a finger of airy, light khaki head. Nose of roasted malts, licorice, figs, tobacco, vanilla, oak, cherry, and coffee. Nice. Lightly roasted barley and mildly sweet fruit malt flavors up front. Coffee bitterness and faint cherry tartness present as well. Light chocolate flavors come through along with some licorice and vanilla-bourbon flavors. Not too bourbon-y though. Pretty good stuff! Medium-bodied with a slightly over-carbonated feel. Solid.

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Photo of tectactoe
3.97/5  rDev 0%
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".

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Short's Bourbon Barrel Sustenance Black Beer from Short's Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 80 ratings.