Reserve Ale - Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter | Cricket Hill Brewing Co.

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Reserve Ale - Bourbon Barrel Aged PorterReserve Ale - Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter

Brewed by:
Cricket Hill Brewing Co.
New Jersey, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.70%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by lackenhauser on 03-06-2009

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Reviews: 56 | Ratings: 141
Photo of KTCamm
4.08/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

5/5...pours pitch black, like midnight. Small but foamy tan head. Bourbon backed roasted nose. Woodsy and earthy. Smooth chocolate malt and light coffee flavor folded inside a whiskey bourbon exterior. Blended all together. Light but present bitter close. Solid.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
4.05/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big old dark brown pour, full inch of head, lighter brown. One of the best looking barrel aged beers I've ever seen. Aroma was good, almost equal parts bourbon and roasting. Dark malts produced coffee like bitterness, vanilla was in good supply too.

I really liked the accessability of a below 7% bourbon beer here. Solid porter base, meets barrel, nothing fancier than that, and they did it quite well. Chewy and bourbon flavor but without the heat. Solid beer.

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Photo of BrentLepping
4.09/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I honestly have no idea why the ratings are so low on this one. The absolute only knock is that the aroma should be a bit stronger given the bourbon barrel touch (though, even that improves as the beer warms up). But the rest of the beer, especially the Tate and Mouthfeel, deliver in every possible way. Supremely crafted brew featuring tons of oak, vanilla, and bourbon notes with a silky finish.

Scooped this one up from St Gambrinus in Brooklyn on recommendation from Ray and it certainly didn't disappoint.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.67/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle purchased at AJ's Beer Warehouse in Rochester, NY.

Pours a dark, deep black, with, strangely, visible carbonation, a one inch head, mocha colored, and some good lacing

Smells like dark roasted malt and bourbon.

The taste is similar. Slightly sour and tangy, with subtle bourbon, and chocolate- cocoa powder, mainly. Some vanilla, as well, with tart dark fruits- cherries and grapes.

Medium bodied, slightly thin for the style. Very creamy and smooth.

This one is a bit better than it's ratings show, but isn't quite big enough to match its barrel characteristics. The sour-ish twang isn't all that pleasant either, but goes away as the beer warms up.

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Photo of chinchill
3.92/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle served in a Belgian snifter.

Pours a very dark but clear reddish-brown. Small head soon reduces to a bubbly ring.

The aroma is sweet with a clear controibution from the bourbon barrel. The barrel aging is even more apperent in the flavor where it dominates the sweet malts. Rather sweet but short of cloying, with some bitterness coming out in the aftertaste.

Near medium body with a satisfying, but higher than expected level of carbonation. Flavor profile seems to call for a fuller body.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.69/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Incredible barrel character dominates the taste, texture and aromas- even as the strong dry toast and hop-ish character of American-style Porter plays out underneath.

Dark brown to start, it has a certain "bark" appearance with onyx-like clarity. Subsequent pours become more milky. A dainty tan head tops the ale early on but quickly succumbs to its barrel character and lighter body. Light also on retention, the beer hardly trails at all; but does so with random specks of lace.

Sharp and savory to the nose- vinous tartness seems berry-like, cherry-like and a little grapey. But backed with hefty malt elements of toast, cocoa and burnt toffee, the scent rounds into a complex wine and chocolate scent.

Flavors however, side much more toward the Porter side- the dark malt flavors are chocolaty, coffee, and nutty with only a glimmer of toffee sweetness in sight. Instead, the dry sherry-like taste is savory, peppery, spicy, and quite savory. Dark dried fruits of grape, plumb, berry, dates and figs reinforce the wine-like tone even as the taste of bourbon, vanilla and caramel begin to close the taste.

Because of the sheer complexities found in taste, the palate braces for utmost fullness, richness and chewy textures- but that doesn't happen. With the modest malting to amount only 6%, the ale remains lighter and more drinkable. This perceived thinness invites wood spices and a powdery texture in finish.

Cricket Hill's Reserve Porter is a highly characterful dark ale that flirts with over-extending the terms of the barrel. Any more age and the beer would turn decidedly sour and overly tannic. But as is, its part Porter and part barrel in a very graceful manner.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.51/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from RSVP
Pours a solid dark brown/black color with a huge frothy tan head that dissipates slowly. Smells of cheap bourbon or sour mash with a hint of chocolate sweetness and maybe some faint dark fruit notes. The flavor has a hint of chocolate and dark fruit, but like the aroma this one is a huge bourbon bomb with a hint of tart fruitiness. Medium body with a moderate to high level of carbonation and a slick tart mouthfeel. No bottle dating on this and being a bit far from home I wonder how old this beer is. It feels like the start of a mild barrel infection here, but the base beer doesn't seem thick enough to stand up to the thinning effects of the tannins in the barrel. Decent brew, but could be so much better.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.54/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to jmgrub for sharing this one at drewone's tasting.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a foamy khaki head that settles a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, cookie dough, and bourbon aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of woody bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a higher level of carbonation with a crisp and prickly mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but the mouthfeel is slightly off.

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Photo of ummswimmin
3.8/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I really enjoy the head brewer (and I think owner) of Cricket Hill. He expresses the love of brewing/beers better than anyone else I have ever seen. I would look him up on Youtube.

I poured this into a snifter to maximize the presence of flavors in the porter and the bourbon.
My reward is a decent presence of coffee and roastiness off the top. At the edges I pick up sweetness, which I presume is from the bourbon aging.

The flavor is a little unbalanced. At the front I get the coffee and bourbon immediately and they don't play well. I still get the roast and malt on the backside.

Overall a pretty decent BBA beer. I think I will pick up another bottle to age for a year. I feel like the scores woudl improve with age.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.48/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle courtesy of lackenhauser pours a deep brown color with an airy tan head that fluffs about for a good while. Nice lace even though this one has been sitting in my fridge for about a year.

Nose is a fair amount of wood and bourbon but is surprisingly light on the malt. A bit of tobacco and fruit...overall pretty light on the aroma.

Again, it has a great wood and bourbon presence...but the malt has totally checked out of this motel. The mouthfeel is thin, obviously, but has a certain smoothness to it that is nice. This could be good, they just need to double down on the malt and get some chocolate and roast flavors to compliment the nice barrel treatment.

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Photo of jlindros
3.2/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I'm usually a sucker for a bourbon barrel aged beer, so let's see how this one is.

Pours a slightly darker colored fluffy bubbly almost 1 finger head that fades at a med pace, nice lines of lacing, over very dark syrupy brown color, just a bit of mahogany light streaming through.

Nose brings some chalky cocoa, cocoa powder and a bit of dark chocolate, lots of wood dust, little barrel, light buttery oak, little acrid roast, hint of bourbon or a heavy booze, touch of vanilla as well. Little grassy like hops. Hint of possible sour infection setting in but that could be a light tangy aroma from the charred barrel and roast, but either way glad I didn't wait any longer to crack this.

Taste starts with bourbon juice, pure bourbon although that dies very quickly. then on to chalky cocoa powder again, it def has a dry chalky flavor and feel. Next up brings more barrel, little barrel char, some light vanilla and buttery oak, little saw dust as well, and perhaps a hint of infection setting in again but hard to tell. Next brings a bit of acrid roast and charred malt, a little tin burnt like, and hint of black patent like. Finish is chalky burn charred roast and little acrid as well, light barrel char and cocoa, vanilla, etc, somewhat dry but sticky syrupy.

mouth is med bodied, decent carb.

Overall not so great but at least decent. The barrel helped a bit I think, but the base beer doesn't seem great. I don't think there is an infection but more like acrid burnt flavors from over roasted malts and barrel char. Some bourbon juice in there is a nice addition, as well as the vanilla and buttery barrel but not too great overall.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.32/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours an opaque jet black in color with some light hints of reddish brown when held up to the light. The beer has a quarter finger tall light beige head that quickly reduces to a small patch of very thin film and a very thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: As this beer warms, strong aromas of bourbon come out with lighter notes of oak, vanilla, and alcohol.

T: Light flavors of roasted malts with very light notes of bourbon, vanilla, and oak. Slightly sweet upfront and minimal amounts of bitterness.

M: Light to medium bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly thin.

O: For a lighter thinner porter, it is tough to get the bourbon barrel aging to really come out as fully as other styles. This is a very average beer and probably did not benefit from the barrel aging.

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Photo of metter98
3.53/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is essentially jet black in color—only the slightest traces of dark red are visible near the edges of the glass when it is held up to a bright light. It poured with a quarter finger high beige head that died down leaving a patch of bubbles on the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: As the beer warms up, light aromas of bourbon become noticeable.
T: Like the smell, the bourbon flavors in this beer take a long time to develop and really require it to warm up.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied and a bit thin on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The bourbon barrel gaining definitely makes this beer a little more interesting, but it takes a lot of waiting for these to develop.

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Photo of Sammy
3.53/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from recent Maine trip, glad to pick it up as an unknown. Bretty, a little sourish. A little coffee, would like more roast and hops rather than the bourbon, but I am a Canadian. Good looks as big bubbly head and lacey. Average mouthfeel. Old School porter. Overall so-so. Quaffable.

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Photo of billnet
3.26/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Very dark colored with a nice tan foam. Huge bourbon aroma with a slight chocolate flavor. Bourbon comes thru on the taste but not much else. This beer goes great with a steak or grilled beef. If you like bourbon this beer is for you because thats all you get.

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Photo of Etan
3.18/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a brandy snifter. Not sure of the vintage.

A: Pours an opaque reddish black with a soft light tan head. Really nice retention and lacing.

S: Huge bourbon and oak in the nose. Tannic, vanilla, base beer behind with some sweet chocolate.

T: Bourbon dominates the taste as well, but not in as good a way as in the aroma. Big wood and corn liquor. Slight vanilla. Very weak base beer (slight hint of bitter cocoa) drowned out.

M: Thin body, way overly carbonated, very tannic.

O: Looks and smells nice, but the taste and mouthfeel are a huge letdown. The base beer is too weak to stand up to the barrel, and the beer is way too carbonated.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.65/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce bottle. Served in a nonic pint glass, the beer pours dark brown with about an inch tan head. Head retention is good, and there's also a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is sweet and boozy, the brew smells like bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, caramel and some roasted malt. It tastes like roasted malt, bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, coffee, and some charred/burnt malt. There's more roasty bitterness than I expected in this brew. Mouthfeel/body is light/medium, it's a little bit creamy with good carbonation. I think it's a solid brew overall, it's worth a try. $10.98 a bomber.

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.65/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampling cellar temp bottle poured into a snifter. The beer pours a rich dark chocolate brown hue with creamy tightly packed tan head of 3-4 cm foaming up on a gentle pour.
Aroma is rich bourbon immediately with a bit of vanilla and toffee mixed in for good measure. I also get hints of brown sugar on a complex yet kind of mild nose.
First sip reveals an average to lighter body with very fine carbonation that is spacious and cask like. Easy drinker on the physical traits.
Flavor is bourbon, vanilla, and brown sugar. I get a little sweet toffee and maybe a hint of roasted malt buried under the bourbon.
I dont get any real hop profile nor ABV poking through on this beer. A nice barrel aged beer that doesnt smack you in the face too hard.
Worth a try but I wouldnt seek this beer out for a special sampling.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
3.98/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, opaque sable with a fairly thick tan head that leaves some good lacing. Smoky aroma has an overtone of bourbon-soaked wood and hints of caramel and chocolate. Bourbon and wood dominate the flavor, but they still let through notes of caramel, semi-sweet chocolate and licorice plus a hint of molasses. Texture is lively and fizzy, though a bit on the thin side. If you like stouts/porters and bourbon barrel aged beers, this is a must.

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Photo of facundoCNB
3.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a deep brown pour with 2 fingers tan fluffy head, great lacing. smells of vanilla, coffee, bourbon. a very smoky flavor, hints of vanilla and chocolate, lots of bourbon up front, yet subtle. a bit of a band aid taste from the smokiness. medium bodied, creamy mouthfeel, a bit chest warming sensation. this is overall a very great porter. i wish the abv was a bit higher since my lips are feeling kind of numb. the bourbon is very present in this one.. well worth the wait on opening it up!

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Photo of GregSVT
3.6/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into a tulip, bourbon barrel aged gold sticker on the neck

A: Pours a translucent brown with a tan head that fades to a ring and leaves some lacing on the glass.

S: The nose is full of vanilla, roasted malt, graham cracker, and chocolate milk.

T: The taste is surprisingly underwhelming compared to the nose. Starts with a bit of vanilla and chocolate milk then moves to a slight cherry flavor.

M: The feel is a bit thin but the carbonation is good.

O: This would be better if it tasted like it smelled. It's not bad for the ABV but it could use a bit more. Decent low ABV barrel aged beer.

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Photo of wisrarebeer
3.82/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

$10.28 for a 22oz. bomber from Green's Beverages in Atlanta, GA.

A: incredibly deep, dark, near opaque, blackish-red color, nice tan head
S: good bourbon barrel qualities, roasted chocolate/cocoa malt undertones, just a bit too much bourbon
T: very interesting style, roasted malt up front, some astringency in finish, a bit too much bourbon barrel quality midway, bourbon could be a bit scaled back but a decent beer
porter-qualities don't come through as much as I'd like to see, probably aged a little bit longer than I would like
M: for my taste the bourbon distracted slightly from the porter backbone, I'd prefer to see a bit more chewy malt come through with a kiss of bourbon as opposed to the amount of bourbon that's here

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Photo of ixodus
3.88/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours motor oil in color with an inch thick tan head leaving a nice set of legs. Head retention is excellent.

S: Nose isn't very strong. Oak, Vanilla, Bourbon, Molasses, Brown Sugar.

T: Sweet vanilla, charred oak, bourbon, chocolate, and roasted malts. Simple and tasty.

M: Thin to medium bodied, medium carbonation, no hotness.

O: Overall this is great sessionable barrel aged beer. Tasty and pretty refreshing.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.25/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

appearance: Handsome deep brown, fairly thick mocha head that reduces pretty quickly.
smell: Pleasant bourbon and hint of roasty porter. Hints at being a great rich nose but falls off. Just a hint that doesn't linger long enough.
taste: Follows through on most of the unkept promise of the nose. Very good bourbon and creamy porter balance.
mouthfeel: silky and carbonated.
overall: Almost great. Really enjoyed this.

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Photo of Naugros
3.63/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Seriously creamy and thick mocha head. Very dark reddish brown.

Smells of cheap bourbon mixed with a Jack and Coke. I don't particularly like that drink, but it smells okay here mixed in with some roasted malts. The bourbon is not overpowering.

The taste follows the smell with a slight alcoholic, tannic off-flavor at the end that lingers. As it warms the vanillin from the barrels strengthens.

Really thin, approaching watery.

One of the better offerings from Cricket Hill. Their bourbon barrel-aged barleywine is even better.

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Reserve Ale - Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter from Cricket Hill Brewing Co.
3.59 out of 5 based on 141 ratings.
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