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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.
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 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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Photo of prototypic
3.97/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of eclipse54
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 12 ounce bottle from fvernon; thank you!

A dark brown (to the point of black) with subtle mahogany hues near the very edges. A tiny bit of cream-colored head forms, and leaves a good amount of lacing behind. Aroma is of bourbon, toffee, toasted marshmallow, caramel, a bit of milk chocolate, and some vanilla. Tastes pretty similar, but with an emphasis on the bourbon and a tiny bit of raw ethanol tacked on the end. Caramel, toffee, toasted sugars, and vanilla all come through quite well. Mouthfeel is thinner than anticipated, and this one finishes relatively clean. Warming alcohol on the end. Overall, this one took to the bourbon very well. I'd be happy to have another anytime.

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Photo of maximum12
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Been wanting to try this forever & when tectactoe tosses a bottle my way I inexplicably...leave it in the fridge for six weeks, or something. The mysterious ways of the mind. 12 oz. bottle sipped with a good brat, & afterwards.

Poured, the beer lives up to it Deutsch billing; black, though red around the edges & as the volume in the glass falls. Carbonation is fair to middlin'. Nose is heavy on the bourbon, with soft backups of roast & malts. Bourbon rules the roost here.

Bourbon Barrel Sustenance would be welcome in my water skin if I was wandering the depths of Mirkwood. Or Chicago. The brew is driven by the barrel, to the point that this could be a barrel-aged Dicktbier & it might not be much different. Fair dip of chocolate in the middle bracketed by oak, coconut (maybe?), vanilla. Bourbon takes control on the end, though it's been lined with chocolate. Plenty OK. Creamy; akin to a milk stout, almost. I'm sipping this like it comes with an expiration minute.

I'm not going to knife anyone for another bottle, but I'm seriously enjoying it. If the world were fair, it would get bonus points for being a relatively low ABV barrel-aged beer. Very good.

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Photo of sukwonee
3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
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).

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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.

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Photo of SpdKilz
4/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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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.

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Photo of david131
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- A slightly hazy dark leathery brown liquid with a thin mocha head. Thinner than I was expecting.

S- Vanilla, raisins, and German chocolate cake. A little on the faint side for a bourbon barrel aged beer, but considering the style it's fitting.

T- Vanilla, oak, chocolate, and raisins. Tasty.

M- Smooth carbonation with a slight oaky dryness on the end. The body is on the lighter side.

D- A pretty unique beer. I appreciate what the bourbon barrel aging has done to a somewhat simple beer. Drinks nicely, although I question the ABV a bit. Well done Short's.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A big thank you to FlandersNed for sending this beer my way in our last trade. Split with Adam.

The beer is dark brown, nearing black. The beige head stands in at a finger's width, and leaves some decent lacing on the glass.

The aroma is quite sweet. Booze, vanilla, malt, light roast, chocolate.

The flavor is definitely bourbon forward. Grandiose vanilla presence. The sweetness is formidable, and I can see that my six ounces will be sufficient. The bourbon, while overpowering to some degree, is bold and tasty. Chocolate and roast play a secondary role, and blend nicely with the the bourbon character. Mildly roasty, perhaps the other aspects of the beer overshadow the roast somewhat.

Medium bodied with appropriate carbonation. Sweet and boozy.

An interesting beer. Not my favorite bourbon barrel aged brew by any stretch, but worth a try. I enjoyed this.

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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.

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Photo of hopswap1
4.04/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

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Photo of SportsandJorts
4.05/5  rDev +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.

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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

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Photo of xnicknj
4.07/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into snifter - big thanks to erikkoppin

Pours a deep black color with a thinner lightly tanned head. Lightly retained, leaving curtains of lacing on the glass.

Potent nose with bourbon, but other softer notes including vanilla, oak, and coconut. Some roasted malts with caramel and butterscotch sweetness and faint booze.

A touch sweet up front with vanilla and syrupy butterscotch. Smack of bourbon with some oaky tannins. Thicker malt body, fairly roasted and warm throughout, dashes of coconut as well. Finishes sweet and a bit boozy.

Medium body, decent carbonation, sticky and smooth on the tongue, but a little on the thin side for me. Definitely an interesting bal aged beer, refreshingly different and tasty.

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Photo of robwestcott
4.09/5  rDev +3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

big thanks to erikkoppin for another bottle of short's brew.

poured cold from the bottle pitch black to a founders brewing goblet with just a hint of a quickly fading mocha head, leaving a thin rim of bubbles around the surface

aroma of dark chocolate and bourbon in the back, and maybe a wee bit of smoke.

very nice. wow. bourbon way up front, but no heat, not overwhelming and actually, as it warms, its balanced quite nicely with the chocolate malts.

medium bodied, bigger carbonation than the pour gave away, smooth, sweet and a bit of heat as it heads down.

overall, a very enjoyable brew and at 6.5abv, i'd have a couple more if i had them.

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