Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine and select auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

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.
very good

80 Reviews
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 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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 80 | Hads: 199
Photo of vurt
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Brewdan for including this one in a recent trade. This beer wasn't on my radar, but it should've been, and I'm very glad to have had the chance to try it. Enjoyed in a Becker glass.

This very dark brown beer looks opaque until you hold it up to a strong light, at which point it is revealed as a perfectly clear brownish-red brew. Beautiful ruby highlights. The head is dense, finely beaded tan foam with good retention. It leaves ghostly thin lacing behind.

The first thing I get is a big bourbon aroma teaming up with a significant woody sourness. The bourbon is prominent, but really well integrated. Dry, dark roasted malt comes through next with a hint of oxidation. Brief glimpses of malty sweetness and fresh coffee are followed by the clean mineral character you get in a well-made lager.

It pays to let this one warm up quite a bit. The first impression is a good dark lager with a touch of sweetness, notes of molasses and smoke, and riding on top is the woody sourness from the nose. A sweet nuttiness like toasted hazelnuts follows in the middle, with a mild fruitiness like bananas and golden raisins. The beer dries out in the end, and the bourbon which has been present all along comes to the front. The long finish is all wood and bourbon with hints of coffee and caramel cream. After the swallow, a lightly toasted coconut note from the barrel comes through on the breath. Very nice.

Medium-bodied and silky. The carbonation feels a bit coarse at first, but diminishes nicely as the beer warms.

This is a beer which rewards patient, slow drinking. Let it warm up and breathe. The base beer feels a bit overshadowed by oaky tartness, but the bourbon is amazingly well integrated. The hint of oxidation in the nose doesn't really show up in the taste. The beer displays alternating moments of sweetness and roastiness with tons of barrel character. It adds up to a beer I'd be happy to drink again, any time.

 1,993 characters

Photo of beachbum1975
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks go out to RoyMunson again...

Pours a thin dark brown to blade with a bright, white and bid bubbled head.Why is it that bourbon barreled beers all have similar foaming characteristics?

Nice warm and sweetness on the nose with caramel, toffee and light coffee flavors.

This is a very easy drinking beer. Great bourbon profile on it at the present time. Very smooth, woody and at times sweet.


 414 characters

Photo of koopa
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
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.

 600 characters

Photo of sholland119
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
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.


 536 characters

Photo of illidurit
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

RBSG09 bottle at the grand tasting. Pours dark amber brown with a beige head. Epic aroma, lots of bourbon obviously but also dark fruits, bananas, and chocolate. Flavor is roasty and chocolatey with some tart bourbon, vanilla, and a woody dry finish.

 250 characters

Photo of ffejherb
4.57/5  rDev +15.1%
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!

 1,163 characters

Photo of johnd513
4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

 474 characters

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.

 827 characters

Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.4/5  rDev +10.8%
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!

 547 characters

Photo of JohnQVegas
4.17/5  rDev +5%
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.

 1,552 characters

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.

 274 characters

Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

 299 characters

Photo of Floydster
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce bottle acquired in a trade with OHLRangers, thanks to Ed for the opportunity, consumed 1/2/09, reviewed from notes, poured into an Aventinus glass, color is pretty close to black, some light through the top, big two inch light tan head that was rather soapy, left some nice lacing, had some good retention, aroma is made up of dark fruits, oak, smokiness, vanilla, roasted malts, lager yeast, burned caramel, and , eleven months in the barrel gave this a nice bourbon character, taste was what I expected, schwarzbier up front and bourbon in the finish, roasty at first, lots of oak and vanilla in the middle, spicy bourbon notes and lots of evidence of wood in the aftertaste, sweet, roasted, slightly hot, and smoky mouthfeel, medium bodied but on the thicker side of that spectrum, carbonation was pretty low, taste lasts a few minutes after each sip, could have gotten close to finishing the bottle but decided to give the rest to my friend Dane, a bit heavy at times but light enough in feel and ABV to enjoy a good amount, smooth to boot, great beer that is quite unique, bourbon and a black lager did not sound like it would work but it sure did, wish I had more, could age well even though it is low in alcohol, boozy presence might helps things out, hope to have again in a few years to find out, recommended

 1,326 characters

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
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.

 762 characters

Photo of flexabull
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Tayner, thanks again!

I have been curious about Short's beers for a while, they sure are talked about a lot here... so here goes.

Pours a dark brown color, with a big thick light tan colored head.

Aromas are nutty, sour, dry, dusty, and oaky. This definitely has a surprising vinegar and sour like character on the nose that I definitely was not expecting, not bad, but a bit of a shock to me.

Taste is crisp, dry and oaky up front. Beer then settles into some cocoa, light booze, and sweet toast flavors. Finish has a light sour taste, with some roasted nuts, a light burnt and smoke flavor and some mineral like hop bitterness. Very interesting tasting beer, with a lot of different flavors.

Mouthfeel is pretty good. Beer has a general sharp crispness, but it feels a little thin on the finish.

Drinkability is quite good. I ranked it high mostly due to it's uniqueness. This is really interesting and enjoyable to taste. But with that said, I wouldn't want more than one in a sitting. Give it a try if you get a chance, it's pretty tasty and very possibly like nothing you have ever tasted.

 1,119 characters

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!

 639 characters

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.

 434 characters

Photo of RustyDiamond
2.83/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to frognauthal for this one, my first brew from Short's. Split with willheels. Cola brown pour into my SA beer glass. Oatmeal colored, frothy somewhat gooey head.
Aroma of BOURBON, with a dash of oak and butterscotch. The first taste sent my right elbow into a back n froth hitchhiking pose. Whoa...is this infected? Way sour at first, but a little better as she opens up a little. I get a hint of a roasted lager taste, before the sour comes on. Tongue burning with a metallic twinge on the sides. Nice lacing in the glass, though. Tastes nothing like the description on Short's website, which leads me to believe something went south with this one.
At a loss, we pulled out a bottle of Jefferson's bourbon to smell and ended up sipping, then went back to the beer. It didn't help...the final verdict? Sour black lager aged too long in a bourbon barrel.

 862 characters

Photo of hopdog
4.57/5  rDev +15.1%
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

 293 characters

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.

 1,228 characters

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.

 1,192 characters

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.

 495 characters

Photo of gford217
4.32/5  rDev +8.8%
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!

 919 characters

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.

 1,320 characters

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.

 1,827 characters

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