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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: 16.88%
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
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Reviews: 80 | Hads: 199
Photo of JizackFH
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This review is taken from notes from when I went to the Shorts brewpub in July 2010.

A - This beer pours a very dark brown color, that has a reddish tint when held to the light. It has a a nice dense tan head on it. The head left behind thin lacing on the glass.

S - I'm getting a big bourbon barrel aroma at first. There are also some notes of chocolate, toffee, vanilla, dark roasted malts, a woody sourness, cinnamon, and caramel.

T - This is dark and roasty up front, with a big bourbon barrel presence. All of the notes from the nose seem to be present, but the dark fruit notes come out more in the taste. Roasted coffee taste really comes in that the finish.

M - It has a medium body and good carbonation. It is also rich and creamy. The finish is dry.

D - This beer has very good drinkability. It has a great bourbon presence, but there is also a nice tartness to it. Overall I think this is a really good beer, and I'm glad I got to try it (especially now that I see it is retired.) I would like to try this one again, but I doubt that will happen. Great beer though, cheers.

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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 rallison
4.29/5  rDev +8.1%
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.

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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 kzoobrew
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
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.

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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 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.


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Photo of Lothore
4.4/5  rDev +10.8%
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!~

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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 OakedCanuck
3.07/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into cervoise. From notes

A - Pours a dark brown with tight edging (little light on the edging). Very small 1/2" tan head dissipated quickly and the lacing was slick and oily

S - Bourbon is very strong. Also get caramel, toffee, cherries and raisins.

T - Lots of bourbon with a rum or port undercarriage. Lots of bittersweet chocolate with a slight smokiness to it. VERY sweet caramel, toffee and brown sugar. Very little hoppiness if any at all. Struggling to get through this.

M - Crazy sticky from the sweetness, medium to light heavy body.

O - This was a tough one for me to finish. As much as I like bourbon barreled beers, this one seemed like it was a bit too much. Hard to finish but if you want bourbon, here it is.

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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.

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Photo of mdvatab
3.27/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of taylorhamrick
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
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.

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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 Lauthaha
4.67/5  rDev +17.6%
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!

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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 kbeals
4.23/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

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Photo of camil1mj
3.37/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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

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

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

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

M: Thin and lighter body. Mild carbonation.

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

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Photo of Wadsey
3.07/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bourbon Barrel Soaked Sustenance Black Beer

Served in New Belgium globe glass

A: Pours clear deep brown with 2-inch head that recedes fairly quickly but leaves haphazard lacing. 

S:  Distinct and delicious aroma of butter rum leads off. Next, spiced rum, wood and brandy. The base beer is smothered. Honestly, this smells like Angel's Share should have smelled. 

T: Well, there is a slightly tart note that initiates tasting. Two other interesting notes follow: toasted coconut and vanilla. The barrel does add a splash of bourbon, but butter rum and spiced rum still come through. Again, the base beer is struggling under load and makes its presence known solely in the finish: powdered and bitter chocolate. Alcohol is easily detectable. 

M: Medium body and carbonation. A little oilier and rougher than regular Sustenance Black Beer. This beer also is somewhat warming. How much booze was added to this?

O: I like Bourbon Barrel Soaked Sustenance Black Beer less than its little brother. Too much barrel, not enough base beer. This beer also cannot compete with Short's preeminent barrel-aged beer, which is Barrel-Aged Wizard. 

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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 joshuaseresse
4.47/5  rDev +12.6%
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.

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

2011, poured from a bottle into a snifter.

A - Pours black with a very bubbly light tan head. Head remarkably sticks around for quite a bit.

S - Appropriately named, this beer smells quite full. Barrel and a hint of bourbon hit first, along with a maltiness and almost breadiness that makes this beer smell quite intriguing. Some vanilla notes and slight cherry come through more as it warms. Wide range of aromas from dark to sweet.

T - An intriguing barrel aging. The bourbon is not as forward in this as most bourbon barrel agings go. If anything, the malt hits first and the bourbon comes later as an afterthought, leaving some alcohol burn and punch. A nice roast to the taste to add to the flavors. If this were considered a stout, I'd say it was thin. But for a schwarzbier, this has quite a bit of flavor.

M - Very smooth with some heaviness from the barrel at the end. Carbonation was good. Enjoyable.

O - A nice beer and something different which is always good. Not many barrel aged schwarzbiers out there that I know of. Great fall beer as it was dark, roasty, yet very drinkable. And the smell, while not overpowering, was quite eclectic. Would have again.

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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.

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Photo of TheBlackMallard
4.57/5  rDev +15.1%
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.

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Photo of BigDaddyWil
4.4/5  rDev +10.8%
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!

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