Nickel Brook Old Kentucky Bastard (Bourbon Barrel Aged Bolshevik Bastard) | Better Bitters Brewing Co.

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Nickel Brook Old Kentucky Bastard (Bourbon Barrel Aged Bolshevik Bastard)Nickel Brook Old Kentucky Bastard (Bourbon Barrel Aged Bolshevik Bastard)

Brewed by:
Better Bitters Brewing Co.
Ontario, Canada

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by MasterSki on 12-29-2012

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Reviews: 33 | Ratings: 102
Photo of Jeffo
3.57/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Was lucky enough to get a batch 1 and batch 2 from Hopsolutely this past summer. Cheers guys! I originally didn't like batch 1 at, as it was simply too alcoholic and had an off-putting cleaning solvent quality to it. I rated it a 2.84, and that was perhaps too generous. Happy to try both batches of this side-by-side.

From a 750 into a snifter
Vintage: 2014
Batch #2
IBU: 70
Drank both batches side-by-side and will add notes for comparative purposes. Scores are for batch #2.

APPEARANCE: Clear black pour yields a two finger, medium looking, creamy tan head with good retention. Head eventually fades to a full cap and clings to the sides of the glass. Black body with no real carbonation evident. A faint splotchy wisp and thick ring remain until the end and leave some decent lacing down the glass. Batch 1 is exactly the same.

SMELL: Nice nose here. Bold with lots of bourbon, oak, toffee and sweet vanilla. Coconut and butterscotch with light notes of milk chocolate as well. Solid stuff for sure. Batch 1 has some similar qualities but there's more wood, some green apples and a definite perfume or cleaning solvent character. Definitely off-putting.

TASTE: The flavor on this one is nice as well. Bourbon, lots of toffee and butterscotch up front, with more bourbon and wood at the swallow. A bold and lingering finish of bourbon, booze, sweet toffee and butterscotch, biscuit notes, and some sweet vanilla. The bourbon is pretty raw and it's boozy for a listed 10%, but the flavor and character works. Batch 1, much like the nose, has lots of green apples and perfume. It might not be as bad as it was fresh, but it's still bad.

PALATE: Medium body and carbonation. A little lighter on the palate for the style perhaps, creamy enough, goes down with a scratch and burn at the swallow and finishes slightly sticky. Some heat lingers. Batch 1 is mostly the same.

OVERALL: Batch 2 is pretty solid stuff. The barrel aging is a little raw, meaning there must have been a lot of bourbon left in the barrel, as it comes across as though someone dumped a couple bottles of decent bourbon in the batch. Still, this one is enjoyable and has plenty going on. Compared to batch 1, it's a complete turn around as well. The first batch is still rather nasty and suffers from a lousy green apple, perfume-like solvent flavor that is just off-putting. It might not be as bad as it once was, but it's still not worth touching. Batch 2, however, it worth the effort for sure. Thanks again hopsolutely! Much appreciated.

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Photo of superspak
4.35/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into snifter, 2015 vintage bottling. Pours dense pitch black color with a 1-2 finger dense dark tan head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, brown sugar, toffee, vanilla, fudge, coconut, bourbon, toasted oak, and molasses; with lighter notes of smoke, char, licorice, and dark fruit; with roast/oak earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/roast/bready malt and bourbon barrel notes; with great strength. Light booziness appears as it warms. Taste of huge milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, brown sugar, toffee, vanilla, fudge, coconut, bourbon, toasted oak, and molasses; with lighter notes of smoke, char, licorice, and dark fruit; with roast/oak earthiness. Light herbal/roast bitterness and bourbon/oak spiciness on the finish; with lingering notes of milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, brown sugar, toffee, vanilla, fudge, coconut, bourbon, toasted oak, molasses, and roast/oak earthiness on the finis hfor a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt and bourbon barrel flavors; with great roasted bitter/sweet and oak spiciness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light dryness for roast bitterness and bourbon/oak spice as well. light carbonation and full body; with a very smooth, crea,y/silky, and lightly slick/chalky moutthfeel that is awesome. Alcohol is well hidden with only a small warmth lingering after the finish, with minimal booziness. Overall this is an incredible barrel aged Russian imperial stout! All around fantastic complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt and bourbon barrel flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the huge ABV. A highly enjoyable offering all around.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pitch black pour, viscous on the glass, soapy thin toffee lacing ring.

S - Cocoa and chocolate.

T - Bourbon, oak, oak tannin, boozy, chocolate is buried, vanilla, toasted brown sugar.

M - Medium body, no carbonation, silky, boozy effervescence.

O - This beer is better than the rating.

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Photo of jaypaul522
3.79/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Shared a 2015 bomber in pints glasses. Poured dark black with significant head. Smell was malt and bourbon. Feel was very full bodied, and the taste was strong with a strong alcohol finish. Overall a very good stout.

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Photo of bobhits
4.16/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Dark with a nice well formed foam head. reasonable lacing.

Bourbon notes over power chocolate and oak vanilla notes.

Bakers chocolate is sweetened by bourbon flavors, primarily vanilla with brown sugar and molasses. A nice oak bitterness as well. Really good.

The mouth is pushing thick but just a hair lighter but with amazingly well done carbonation giving it a creamy mouth feel. Really really good feel here just missing great.

At 15.99 this is expensive, but it really did impress me given I don't know this brewery. I was expected a good flavor with some horrible flaws that I'd ignore because I like the style. Instead this is a really great beer, it was just so well made.

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Photo of BradenMK
4.28/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Okay, this is easily one of the best barrel-aged imperial stouts I've ever had, so I don't understand the really hit or miss ratings on this. Maybe there's big bottle variation?

APPEARANCE (4.5) - It's black as sin, it pours like heavy oil, and it drums up a slowly forming milk chocolate brown head made up of the tiniest bubbles. I guess the head on it does fade away though, and leaves no lacing or other trace of its existence behind.

SMELL (4.5) - Coconut, vanilla, and BOURBON are big, omnipresent, and welcoming. I'm glad this beer has the coconut and vanilla components to the aroma/flavor because I've been looking for them and just finding the bourbon element in the last several BA imperial stouts I've drank. Chocolate is there, but subservient to the three other mentioned aromas.

TASTE (4.0) - Delicious, but not subtle or complex. Tastes like a chocolate bourbon milkshake. The coconut and vanilla from the wood come along for the ride, but you could be forgiven if you missed them in the onslaught of milk chocolate and bourbon. Really tasty, but not mindblowing, just a really satisfying BA imperial stout after having a bunch that I didn't care for. The finish is with the bourbon and a very light hop character, drying and bittering the palate, readying you for the next taste.

FEEL (4.25) - Thinner than I'd like, but still very full and robust, with a smooth carbonation that provides body and texture without adding any prickliness. Obviously coating and heavy, but not sugary.

OVERALL (4.5) - Easily one of my favorite BA imperial stouts with no added ingredients, again, not understanding some persons' hate for this beer. I found it very, very smooth and chocolatey and satisfying and not at all boozy or raw. I don't think I had an aged bottle... it says 2015 which I assume is the latest batch. In my opinion a great beer and worth the little bit of extra cash.

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Photo of UrbanCaveman
2.71/5  rDev -31%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bomber, poured into a snifter at room temperature.

Appearance: Your typical stout jet black, capped with about two fingers of dark brown foam that fades to nothing, not even a ring.

Smell: Bourbon. Straight bourbon.

Taste: This beer opens fiery with ABV, and does not relent. Bourbon dominates the flavor profile, all oak, smoke, char, and caramel. Some very faint chocolate appears, as does a tinge of cold black coffee, but mostly, this is bourbon that has a tinge of beer to it.

Mouthfeel: Thin for what one would expect for an RIS, and with blistering alcohol heat.

Overall: Given the ABV heat, and the preponderance of raw bourbon flavor, this is not a favorite of mine. Perhaps it calms down a bit with age, but drinking a 2015 in March 2016 was not one of my favorite BA RIS experiences. Bear in mind, I love drinking bourbon - I've done quite a bit of the bourbon trail, and I love a nice glass of bourbon neat. But when I have a beer aged in a bourbon barrel, I'm looking for beer first, bourbon second. Not the reverse.

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Photo of Bcarlos
4.01/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Right out the gate, this is a super boozy Imperial stout. If you are not a bourbon fan, you will struggle with this beer. But the sharpness of the bourbon is counteracted with time, and this is an excellent addition for anyone who's a fan of cellaring.

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Photo of Sabtos
1.99/5  rDev -49.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2

Holy mother, there is some strong bourbon here!

Really, this is bourbon, with a shot of stout in it.

This is a prime example of exactly why I don't like barrel aged beers. Just too hot, and too overpowering of the base beer.

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Photo of jcflorian
4.1/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Received this as a gift . Knew nothing of the beer. Pleasant surprise. Color is black with light tan head. Smell was bourbon upfront, roast and vanilla in the back. Taste pretty much same as the smell,but did not get any oak. Mouthfeel medium body. Overall, I enjoyed this beer. It is not at level of the top bourbon barrel beers, little booziest than I expected at 10.0 abv, but I liked it and would drink it again

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.24/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750 ml wax capped bottle, 2015 vintage, 12% ABV. Served in a Great Lakes Brewing chalice, the beer pours dark brown/black with about a half inch tan head that stayed around for a very long time. There's also a lot of lacing. Aroma is nice, the brew smells like bourbon, vanilla, oak, coffee, and chocolate. Taste is similar to the aroma, but there's also some dark fruit, molasses and burnt/charred malt noticeable. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit slick with moderate carbonation. I thought this was an enjoyable brew, if you're into bourbon barrel stouts then this one is worth trying! It was definitely a nice surprise since I hadn't heard anything about this beer when I bought it. $14.49 a bottle.

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Photo of kevinlater
4.13/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle into snifter. 2015 vintage, 12% abv. consumed on dec 31 2015 -- happy new year!

a: super dark brown coming out of the bottle, developing into a pitch black colour with brown head on top

s: a true caramel bourbon bomb with a bit of alcohol and not much else. slight smoke on the back-end

t: strong bourbon-y caramel, quite sweet. there are more prominent notes of dark chocolate and prunes as the beer approaches room temperature, but throughout warming, this is still a bourbon bomb. pleasant and complementary heat on the swallow

m: medium feel, low carbonation, medium bitterness

o: truly a beer for the whisky lovers. not enough roasty stout character for me, but still very enjoyable. drinkable despite the abv. watch out!

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Photo of TheHammer
4.07/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark as night, finger and a half of head that stuck around with ample lace. Pretty easy to get Stout's appearance right, but more lacing and a bit more head is needed for the perfect score.

Smell: Smoky stout with the whisky aroma of bourbon very present. Some notes of Vanilla and oak, but the whisky aroma of bourbon is clearly dominant. Warming really brings out the Bourbon more and more.

Taste: Starts with a milder caramel malt with vanilla notes as bitter coffee and burnt oak comes forward to be tamed by the unmistakable taste of fairly even whisky. It's no Innis and Gunn mind you (whose whole thing is Oak aging) as it seems like fairly generic whisky, but it's good none the less.

Mouthfeel: I find that a bit of a burning whisky sensation is left on the back of my tounge on this one, as it is very clear that this beer couldn't hide it's alcohol content to save it's life. That said, some leeway is given, since it's very clearly aged with whisky barrels. What I am a fan of is the long lasting creamy carbonation that helps out the entire beer and the very smooth transitioning. Has just enough dryness at the end to be interesting.

Drinkability: On the heavier end of medium bodied, which is a bit surprising given the style and exceptionally high ABV. It's strong, but it doesn't drink like a meal, almost to it's detriment in my opinion. Very balanced and easy to drink, but I'm left wanting something more regardless.

Final Thoughts: It's an all around good beer, and certainly one of the better RIS's Ontario has produced, but I'm left with a lingering sense of "Shouldn't there be more to this?" I mean, it's an RIS aged in Bourbon barrels. I was honestly expecting a bit more of a kitchen sink effect on this one. What I found was a good stout with whisky tastes. Still worth a two thumbs up regardless though.

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Photo of tomghiley
4.87/5  rDev +23.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This is one of the best Imperial stouts that has ever been made. The bourbon compliments the base Bolshevik Bastard extremely well, cut's a lot of the bitter notes that I wasn't as fond of. World Class beer.

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Photo of Coronaeus
4.54/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2014 edition. This has improved immensely from previous editions of the beer. The ABV is well integrated and the mouthfeel is full and creamy. Solid, worthy BB Imperial stout. Will seek out in 2015.

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Photo of polloenfuego
3.89/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A nice looking beer, with a root beer head that slowly breaks into some simple bubbles. The smell is fantastic, the bourbon is extremely nice and helps accentuate the aromas of the stout. It's the taste where things go a little sideways. It is not as bourbon forward as one would expect, but there is a slight lack of cohesiveness. As far as feel, there is a definite astringent finish to this beer, and that takes away from the overall enjoyment. All in all a good effort, but not a great one.

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Photo of Luisc94
4.43/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

A: Dark Brown almost completely black, 2 finger mocha head with medium retention.

S: There is the bourbon smell with some vanilla and tones of chocolate and coffee. The alcohol smell is noticeable partly because of the bourbon barrels and slightly vinous. You can feel the strong toasted malts. All the smells mix well to create a delicious smell with the malt, fruits and wood characteristic.

T: Very bitter at first glance, with strong coffee and roasted malts. The alcohol is well hidden but noticeable with the bourbon. There is some Dark chocolate, Vanilla and some dark fruits ended with a slight dryness.

M: Not as big in the mouth as others but it still has a big presence, Mid to full body, creamy with a medium to low carbonation, one of the more balanced bodies in a IS, not too heavy but not to light, bold and smooth. It has some dryness but not very strong just enough to make you want more but keep the enjoyment.

O: Really good stuff, balanced body and good bitterness and flavor not extremely complex but very well balanced.

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Photo of SuperMartino
4.79/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Okay. I don't review a lot of beers but I must say this is worth buying. Buy this beer. You can taste the bourbon, the vanilla, the oak, the dark fruits, the alcohol. The mouth feel I like a mini Bourbon County stout. If you are into a bourbon aged beer THIS is worth buying. I recommend this beer for anyone who likes great beer. But this beer. Before it's too late.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a nice dark brown foamy head with good retention and light lacing. Aroma of vanilla, butterscotch and bourbon are quite dominant and pretty enjoyable. Taste is also dominated by a well-balanced mix of bourbon, vanilla and butterscotch with some light roasted malt notes. Quite a bit of residual sugar can be found in here as well. Body is full enough with an oily texture and good carbonation with light warming alcohol notes. Very enjoyable beer that I would gladly buy again and share with friends.

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Photo of DaveBar
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

UPDATE DEC.8/15- Opened a bottle from the cellar over 1yr old to see how she aged!

A- Opens well and still gets a decent 1/2" high brew head that lasts for a couple of minutes before film out.

S- Bourbon is still there!!

T- Here we go..... Lost a touch of bourbon but the flavor has changed.... A LOT! Everything has blended in to make a super smooth brew. SUPER smooth. The smokiness is much less, bourbon less and chocolate much less but overall a coconut flavor opened up. No bite at all. Nice!

M- Creamy and thick. Super smooth. Light carbonation

O- The year made a great difference. I will be picking up more for the cellar as I only had one there. Worth the $13.00.



Purchased at the LCBO for a steep $13.00 for a 750ml bottle. Served at 4deg C in a tulip

A- Opens well and pours a tiny head that is gone in no time. Blackie good.

S- Lots here. You can smell the bourbon.

T- WOW this one punches you in the face with bourbon. Unmistakable. Does not taste like Bolshevik Bastard with bourbon. Seems like there was more vanilla and coffee.

M- Not that good. Not creamy or anything like Bolshevik. Dry due to the barrel aging.

O- Ok at best. I really like the non barrel aged better by far. Will not buy again.

Food Pairing

This ok brew went well with..... Lamb stew. This beer actually runs over the flavors of the lamb believe it or not.


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Photo of Big_Dude_Likes_Food
3.25/5  rDev -17.3%

Very very dark pour with very little head. So little head I worried that my bottle had gone flat. Boozy nose, boozy mouth and a boozy finish. You can really taste the Burbon, Actually it’s overpowering. Maybe if I liked bourbon more it would be different. Besides that there’s some nice stout bitterness and hints of dark chocolate.

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Photo of bylerteck
4.05/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From rough notes.

A - Black pour with two finger tan head. Spotty lace and nice retention.

S - Boozy fruits, dark fruit, vanilla, woody. Nice.

T - Sweet. Nice vanilla, boozy but not offensive. Roasty but also sweet. Pleasant stuff.

M - Mild carbonation, full body, sweet and boozy to finish.

O/D - A really solid RIS from these guys. The base beer is good, but the barrel added a good complexity to it as well. Well done.

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Photo of biegaman
3.83/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Even pouring entirely upright couldn't produce even a finger's worth of head. Still, what's there is a cappuccino brown colour and surprisingly resilient given the beer's strength. Less of a shock is Kentucky Bastard's opaque, coal-black colour - this has the complexion of a charred barrel.

The nose on this beer is such that even the most complex single-origin chocolates in my possession are jealous. It has the sooty, earthy, lightly roasty but sweetly vanilla-laced profile with similar hints of burnt toffee, coffee and currant, but provides an overall richness that you can't find in bar form, at least not in the grocery stores I shop at.

The first sip is far more mellow than the initial impression let's on; all that vanilla character actually helps to mellow out the tobacco, cigar, and charred notes of the bourbon barrels. (Those notes are all present, mind you, but made far more palatable by a dosage of demerara sugar rum-like flavours.) Light custard, maple syrup, creme caramel, and molasses notes are there too.

It might all be too sweet except for the fact that it's all imposed onto an inherently bitter, phenolic backdrop; this beer is stronger than it is sweet. There's a certain mellowness to it, don't get me wrong - provided you can stomach the alcohol - and it drinks with more grace than many others in its category, but it's undeniably a tough beer.

It should be obvious what you're getting yourself into when popping a 750ml of Kentucky Bastard... While a bit more approachable than other bourbon barrel-aged offerings in its weight class, this is still a heavy-hitting imperial stout that'll leave a taste that could last days. And the contents of an unopened bottle, they could probably last for years.

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Photo of TerryW
3.72/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours dark with a moderate but handsome brown head. Lots of fine spotty lace as you go. Good looking beer.

Sweet and boozy on the nose. Quite clearly has spent art of its life in a barrel. Mouthfeel is full, unctuous, heavy, syrupy.

Lots of bourbon to taste. Chocolate, wood ash, licorice, plums. Really nice vanilla finish. Tons of flavour happening, a very sturdy beer, not for the light of heart. Drying bitter finish.

Quite boozy, so stay seated and drink this at home. A decent brew, but just a touch heavy handed. Kudos however to Nicklebrook for the variety of interesting brews they've been working lately.

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Photo of Digimaika2
3.95/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

(3.75) A: Black with a sizeable mocha-coloured head with lots of bubbles (like chocolate milk). Good retention with lacing in patches.

(4.25) S: Black licorice, oak, bitter dark chocolate, molasses, sweet vanilla, and hints of smoke. Dark fruits and bourbon work together superbly. Aromas are diverse, bold, and complimentary.

(4.0) T: Boozy oak, roasted malts, vanilla, molasses, and hints of smoke. Roasted malts take the form of bitter dark chocolate and dark fruits of plums mostly. The bourbon is more the focus of the taste as opposed to a more balanced approach in the aroma I find (wouldn’t mind a bit more roasted malt qualities).

(3.5) M: Medium bodied with a moderate-lower carbonation. Slightly thinner than I prefer in this style. Creamy and velvety texture.

(3.75) D: A very nice barrel-aged imperial stout that I could easily sip all night long (and will). A bourbon-oak forward taste with an impressive bold aroma sum this stout up.

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Nickel Brook Old Kentucky Bastard (Bourbon Barrel Aged Bolshevik Bastard) from Better Bitters Brewing Co.
3.93 out of 5 based on 102 ratings.
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