Trip In The Woods: Barrel-Aged Islay Fog | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Trip In The Woods: Barrel-Aged Islay FogTrip In The Woods: Barrel-Aged Islay Fog
10 Ratings
Trip In The Woods: Barrel-Aged Islay FogTrip In The Woods: Barrel-Aged Islay Fog

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by ThatsThatDude on 08-14-2015

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 10 |  Reviews: 5
Photo of wmartin
4.82/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This beer deserves some comment because it is so extraordinary.

Had a bottle obtained direct from Mills River Brewery last summer and stored at 45F until today. Poured into small Teku. My first impression on drinking it is that it is different from any beer I've ever had before. Very different. That can be good or bad. I'm not initially sure if it is a misfire, or inspired. After several wonderful hours with the beer, I am firmly on the side of "inspired"!

My second impression, after initially being overwhelmed by the flavor shock, is that the dominant flavor has a strong medicinal nature to it. The most forward flavor reminds me of what bandaids smell like when you take them out of the package. I have since found that this is related to phenols naturally present in peat that are also used as a disinfectant, and is a known flavor element of some Islay scotchs. It tastes medicinal down to the point of making your tongue numb. But it is not numb, it is just over stimulated (or is it the 11% ABV?). There is a lot going on with this beer: Bandaid forward, sweet maltiness, earthy peatiness, salty caramel scotch, woody flavors, some bitterness, it goes on and on and on. After awhile, my taste buds begin to plead with me to pair this with some food. Fortunately, I had some grilled pork chops with a maple sauce on the way, so I was able to quell the riot. Label says this is a desert beer. Utter nonsense, in my opinion, as this would pair well with any hearty meal.

I was actually reminded of a conceptually related (though very different) beer. At about the same time, Sierra Nevada made a rye beer aged in rye whiskey barrels. I didn't like that one at the time, and still don't. The rye flavor was just too much, though if you were a rye beer lover, that would be your beer. This is a scotch ale aged in scotch barrels. This time, the combination adds great complementary complexity, rather than just amplifying one part of the flavor profile.

It is really impressive that they were able to get so much of the flavor of the barrels into the beer, and is really a lesson on what can be done with beer. The flavor is so different, that many would find it objectionable, and it took me awhile; but I ended-up loving it. I find it inspirational. I've never had a peaty scotch, but now I have to try one. Come to think of it, I now want to spend 3 months on the Isle of Islay (with its 3000 inhabitants and 10 distilleries), drinking their scotch, walking the moors, and studying quantum mechanics. This beer is that good. Of course, convincing the wife that that would be a good vacation is another matter.

Love it or hate it, this beer is a standout.

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Photo of kbuzz
4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Mantooth
3.9/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Rccola
4.94/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Let me preface this biased review by saying that I am a peated scotch whisky fanatic. Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Caol Ila, Talisker - you name it. If it's heavily peated, I buy it, drink it, and collect it. So when my cousin brought me a bottle of this after visiting the brewery - I was impressed, until I opened the bottle, and then I was effing blown away.

I spend more time drinking beer than looking at it, so to me the look of a beer doesn't matter that much. I especially believe this to be true because looking at a glass of beer that you can see through somehow seems more refreshing than staring at a glass of dark brown syrup looking stuff. Dark beers can equal massive flavor but they can also be too rich for many occasions and ask a non beer drinker what looks more appealing - a stout or a Kölsch...point being this beer will never "look" a 5 in my book. That being said it makes up for it's humble appearance in all other aspects.

Sticking my nose in the bottle just after popping the cork is what first indicated that this beer might blow my socks off. It was such a gorgeous aroma - I can still remember that moment clearly: the look I gave my cousin, the utter delight in the amount of peated Islay malt smell present in the beer. That moment will be imprinted on me forever. Reading the other reviews tells me that we will all smell this beer differently but I can assure you one thing - if you like Islay whisky this is your beer! It's got the peat and the smoke and the wet stuff.....leaves....tobacco....moss....but the beer comes through to me as a robust caramel scotch ale. The smell is enigmatic. It's a shape shifter. Spend time with it you can name 2 or 3 dozen different smells. But who only smells a beer?!

DRINK IT! Yeah go ahead.....take a gulp of this bad boy. No sips here. As the first reviewer said - this is perhaps the Winston Churchill of beers. However I find it nothing short of an insult to score the "Winston Churchill of beers" a 2.83 - as I find this beer to be my personal ambrosia. I would like to shout out to the first reviewer though - for inspiring me to impose my conscience upon the masses! I believe that as the Romans say "De gustibus non est disputandum" and therefore I can't criticize anyone's opinion of this divine beer. The taste is all over the place. Smoked meats (kippers without fishiness? bacon...smoked sausage?) peat, earth, fruit, burnt sugar, wood, caramel, toffee, something sourish?....everything is so balanced it can be a challenge to identify individuals in this orchestra of divinity. The saltiness and umami flavors are perfectly paired with bitter and sweet notes. The whole event is like a barbecue and a cocktail captured on the tongue.

And now the fireworks....the magic. As if the taste wasn't enough - this beer is 11.3%. When consumed I don't believe anyone could perceive that this beer is anywhere near as strong as it is. I have shared several of these with friends and always challenged them to guess the strength. Always the same - "7, 8 percent?" Perhaps the oak casks do more than simply impart the scotch flavor. It seems to me that the casks mellow the beer in a way no other process can. There is no alcohol bite to this beer. No heat. I read that the finish was harsh - I couldn't disagree more. This beer is as smooth as silk @ 11.3% and smoke and peat punching your mouth. Like gulping sweet Lagavulin :) Truly Magic.

So magic in fact that on boxing day 2016 (2 days after first tasting) I set out on a spur-of-the-moment road trip to the brewery to buy a case of this beer. It is without doubt the finest beer I have ever had the pleasure of smelling and drinking.

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Photo of Sweffin
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

an absolutely incredible beer, one of the best i have ever had from sierra nevada, and certainly unique as they go. i was shocked to learn there is no smoked malt in this beer, its entirely smoky from the barrels, which further confirms my assertion that this is one of the coolest uses of scotch whiskey barrels i have ever seen in beer. deep nut brown in color, surprisingly dense head, and an incredible aroma of peaty scotch whiskey, earthy and bitter, but round and malty too, with a mineral brine element, subtle cocoa and toasted dark bread, smells like a fire pit the day after a fire and a cool rain, charry and high carbon, decayed but renewing, just amazing to the senses, not like any other beer. the wood aspect is as strong as the smoke and peat in the flavor, the whiskey obviously impacts this a lot, but the wood is well defined in the flavor too. sweet birch sap sort of notes here, unlit medium cigar, wet tobacco, apple cider, anise, earth. smoky burps on the swallow, a good drink of scotch coming back up pleasingly, enough alcohol to slow me down, plenty of smooth mellow body, moderate malt sweetness lingering, musty peat, green velvet wool hat, rustic. old man. i taste this for miles, and it almost makes me thirsty for a kolsch or a hoppy wheat or something, like a beer i can just blast off on. i loved this, appreciated it more every sip, and would put it up there in the early runnings for my favorite beer i have had this year so far, it really is tremendous and super different from anything i have had before. nearly full marks for this one!

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of teromous
4.53/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I don't see any bottle date. The ABV on the bottle I purchased says "11.3% ALC BY VOL."

Appearance: The body of the beer is a dark brown color that doesn't allow light through anything but the very edges of the glass. It has a nice deep red-brown color at the edges with hints of orange. The head is medium sized with a very light tan color and a creamy texture. Good retention, spotty lacing.

Aroma: It has a big smokey aroma with this strong woody scent. It smells intoxicatingly good. It reminds me of a campfire but it smells infinitely better than that. There is also a bit of this apple-like aroma in the background that only shows up about a quarter of the time. I doubt anyone would ever say this lacks aroma.

Taste: It has a strong burnt caramel flavor but without the sweetness or even the bitterness. It just has that flavor. There is this fantastic pipe tobacco flavor along with this deeply rich earthy character that I can only describe as tea without tannin. It is unbelievably good.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, full bodied, and strong without being bitter. The alcohol is hidden expertly. This is truly a joy to drink.

Overall: The beer is a bit deceptive in its description. By stating that this is a "salted caramel Scotch-style ale" it conjures imagery of decadently sweet malt. This is actually an absolutely fantastic smoked Scottish-style ale which is unbelievably good. There is a bit of caramel character behind that burnt flavor but it really is not the highlight of this beer. The smoke, the bitterness, and the malt are absolutely perfectly balanced. I strongly recommend trying this beer if you like smoked malt.

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Photo of AlexFields
3.56/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of fgarcia1687
2.83/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

This beer is S-M-O-K-E-Y. The nose is a bit of burnt brakes on hot summertime asphalt. The first taste is smoked meat, tobacco, salt, peat, and caramel. The finish is medium to harsh with a scotch peaty kick in the arse. On the plus side if you give this beer about 30 minutes it mellows out a bit, but not too much. This is the Winston Churchill of beers!

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Trip In The Woods: Barrel-Aged Islay Fog from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.18 out of 5 with 10 ratings