Bourbon Barrel Porter | AleWerks Brewing Company

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Bourbon Barrel PorterBourbon Barrel Porter

Brewed by:
AleWerks Brewing Company
Virginia, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerSox on 08-03-2009

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Reviews: 170 | Ratings: 589
Photo of StormKing47
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared with cmurren25, Jwiss22, JayW73 and Lane23. One of the surprises of a little tasting that went like this...

A- A very rich, dark black almost to the color of a stout, but some light is actually visible. Already looks like it's good just sitting there. Has a little carb that leads to medium dark brown/ tan head. A very appealing beer that looks more like a stout than a porter. Must have spent some time in the barrel to achieve that rich color.

S- Right away a nice refined smell of sweet chocolate, bourbon heat, earthy wood notes and a cooling vanilla to keep the bourbon in check. There is a nice roastiness and caramel sweetness in the background as this one warms up that balances the soft undertones of the vanilla and subdues the bourbon heat. Very pleasant.

T- A nice opening of bourbon coated sweet chocolates with a subtle charred woody taste. As it warms the soft complexities of this one come to the front for a great experience. Has a nice roastiness that is accompanied with a vanilla and caramel sweetness that is a great counterpart to the bourbon and wood flavors.

M- A nice and semi-viscous full bodied porter. Has a nice slight chewiness with a very good coating. This allows you to taste all the nuances and is a welcomed aspect of a well done porter. Also detect a little syrupy character that is reminiscent of fine stouts.

D- Definitely. A complex, full bodied and delicious barreled porter. Everything you could ask for and more. Great aroma, complex taste, warming feeling from the high abv that is well hidden. Definitely a must try.

My first beer from Williamsburg Aleworks and one that everyone should try. A limited batch that is definitely under the radar.

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Photo of Chaney
4.37/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My 200th review!

I had this on tap over at the Fair Lakes Whole Foods in Fairfax, Virginia.

A: Dark, Dark brown, almost black, with an awesome 1.5 - 2 inch head, and carbonation that only God could see. Lacing was surprisingly minimal, given the high octane of the brew.

S: Bourbon, bourbon, bourbon, and wood were present.... also, vanilla, and sweet caramel notes hit the nose substantially.

T: This was very dark beer in taste. The roasty, woody, chocolaty notes get buried by the bourbon (once again, a theme!), but that was a great thing here. A bit of subtle candy sweetness hit the palate, but this definitely was not overwhelming in any way.

M: Thick, chocolatey, and melted candy-like. The carbonation was about as bubbly as it could have been to balance out the extremeness of the brew itself. The ABV was undetectable due to the bourbon, but here is a thought: even though the "burn" was not there, aren't we just cancelling out one form of alcohol out for another (bourbon)?

D: I love it when a local brewery shines! I remember when Williamsburg Alewerks used to disappoint in beer after beer. Not anymore! They are the best brewery in Virginia.... hands down!

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.03/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Whole Foods in Fair Lakes, Virginia.

The beer appears a near black shade. The head is about an inch thick and leaves a thick sheet of lacing on the glass. The aroma is mostly bourbon and alcohol, with roasted malt and chocolates following behind. The beer is a little hot, but not so much that it ever becomes a distraction. Subtle oak notes add a nice touch of complexity. This is a good beer and seems to fly under the radar. It's definitely worth a try.

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Photo of CHADMC3
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours nearly opaque with a black body except for the deep ruby hues at the foot of the glass. A foamy tan head generously appears from the body leaving a sticky lacing clinging to the glass.

Aromas of rich roasted malt and even chocolate waft from the glass. Additional aromas include caramel, vanilla, wood, and bourbon as it warms.

The flavor is similar and features generous roasted malt, vanilla, wood and bourbon, hints of chocolate and caramel. They really got the wood aging right with this beer.

The mouthfeel includes a rich, thick, yet smooth body with medium carbonation and a nice warming sensation.

This is a great porter. The abv is buried and the barrel aging is just right with the other characteristics of the beer. One of my favorite barrel aged beers.

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Photo of akorsak
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle 2010 - 1817, from Grape and Gourmet. Poured into a tulip.

A: The porter is a fully black color; even at the narrower base, the color remains black. An off-white, egg-shell head of three fingers on pour left patches of lace all around the glass.

S: Sweet bourbon, chocolate and warmly toasted malts greet me on first sniff. The bourbon strives, and comes close, to completely dominating the ale. Luckily balance prevails and the roasted porter side gets a turn in the spotlight.

T: Lots of porter, the first sip is teeming with dark roasted flavors. Burnt toast and chocolate, coffee along for the ride, all set the acrid table. The bourbon, strongest midsip, packs all the right flavors. Vanilla is prominent, as is the woody oaken taste. The bourbon, though, is quick to disappear back into the body of the porter. The light bourbon and ample porter showcases the ale with just enough barrel to keep me happy.

M: The mouthfeel is porter-centric, lots of roasted malts and chocolate flavors. The bourbon, mid-sip, is a light break in the action.

D: The ale doesn't feel like 9%. It does, though, nicely combine the base beer and the barrel. I've really been impressed by Williamburg Alewerks' offering lately; they're knockin' 'em out of the park.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This one pours from a 22oz bottle into a slender Harpoon pint glass. Emerges a sort of hazy, dark chocolate color with an impressive, creamy and milky tan colored head. Looks so creamy it could be a nitro pour.

Aroma is fantastic. A perfect amount of bourbon mixed with bitter bakers chocolate.

Nice flavor too. Bourbon, oaky, vanilla, chocolate, roasted grains, alcohol, licorice, figs, cardamom. This one runs the flavor gamet.

I wasnt sure what to expect from this one. I had high hopes and those hopes were most certainly met. A perfectly crafted bourbon barrel aged beer.

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Photo of BrewCrew2010
4.45/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Opaque black with about 1 finger tan head that quickly diminishes to island foam in the glass. Great lacing and head retention.

S: Strong aroma of bourbon (duh!), dark chocolate malts, vanilla, and hints of roasted coffee.

T: BOURBON! Well that's a given. Rich flavors of dark chocolate, roasted coffee, burnt caramel, and vanilla. Has almost a smoke flavor, but all in all very balance. Have to admit, this taste more like a stout then a porter to me, but a great tasting beer none the less.

M: A warming sensation from the high ABV, but a rich, creamy, and smooth texture makes this very drinkable. Full bodied with little carbonation.

D: Please sir may I have another.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Slips out a clearish, dark brown body with ruby-hinted edges and a frothy, khaki-colored head.

Smell: A robust choco-vanilla union leads in the aroma with a smokey whiff of lightly charred malts, small traces of dark fruitiness, and all the usual bourbon barrel accents.

Taste: A dark chocolate flavor blanketed in good amounts of dark brown sugar and vanilla sugar. It's a sweet drink, but not overly so. Modest date-like fruitiness. Roasted malts provide for a hint of smokiness. Well-integrated bitterness. Bigger bourbon presence on the back half (and as the beer warms), lending more vanilla, brown sugar, oak wood, and even a touch of coconut cream. Finishes dry, warming, and still with an ever increasing bourbon quality until it all just ends.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body, with a mouthfeel that's both smooth and a bit sticky. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: An inviting, likable BA Imperial Porter, which is something I think we could all use more of.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.17/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Its not a tasting unless there's a bourbon barrel aged beer in the mix. This is a "local" beer from Virginia. Lots of good beers in Virginia, they don't get enough attention in my opinion.

Beer is black with a brown tight head that leaves a little lacing on the glass. Looks fine.

Beer is kind of sweet and bourbony in the nose. Smells good.

This beer is a medium body and a creamy mouthfeel. There is some minimal bitterness from the roasted malts. Drinkability is good, it is pretty easy going. Bourbon barrel character is nice and not overwhelming. Minimal oakiness, interesting overall.

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Photo of newk340
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

split with hu5om (who received this as an extra in a trade) in guiness glasses.

A: inky black pour with hints of brown, with a thin ring of tan foam around the edges.

S: exceptionally smoky, a slight bourbon burn as a mild after-aroma.

T: front heavy smoke flavors, nearly overwhelming the faint bourbon aftertaste that is noticeable as it slides down the throat. also a mixture of caramel, toffee, and vanilla lost in the abundant smokiness.

MF/D: quick sizzle of carbonation that fizzles on the tongue for a smooth swallow. tastes eerily similar to a stout, but isnt that what an imperial porter should be? leaves a subtle tingling sensation as it warms.

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Photo of nickd717
4.17/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber via trade thanks to billab914.

Pours darkest brown with a small quickly fading tan head and some decent lacing.

Aroma is good for a bourbon -bal aged porter, and that's saying something. Bourbon, oak, roast, chocolate, and coffee. Maybe some vanilla or earth.

Flavor is also awesome. Rich dark chocolate with roast and coffee as well as great barrel notes of vanilla, oak, and bourbon.

Very nice slick mouthfeel with medium-full body and low carbonation.

A really solid -bal aged beer overall. Better than expected.

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Photo of hu5om
4.23/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

thanks to BigTomZ for sharing this delicacy with me! split with newk340 in guiness glasses
a- jet black, thin khaki ring of foam
s-bourbon smokiness and darker malts. chocolate and caramel.
t-very smoky and fairly sweet. chocolate, caramel, toffee, and lingering vanilla smokiness. yum.
m-not that heavy on the palate, really. smoke lingers nicely, a bit viscous. slight, slight heat. what's the abv, because this is going down very easily?
d-i could drink numerous. a most excellent beer. too bad we can't get it in WI very easily. thanks again, Tom.

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

Thanks, Nick. Mocha brown, nearly opaque but not quite there. It has a solid tan cap that settles to a collar. Pretty nice aroma, the barrel is well-integrated, lending some caramel sweetness to the roasty base porter. A bit tootsie roll-like as it warms, this smells good. Chocolate-caramel candy flavors are prominent, plenty of barrel, but it's at balance with the dark malts. Medium in body with a slightly fruity, roasty, sweet finish. This is great stuff.

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Photo of levifunk
4.12/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a - black as expected. light brown head.

s - bourbon and sweetness. very nice.

t - big bourbon flavor with porter deep underneath.

m - medium to heavy body. thick creamy feel.

overall - very smooth and tasty. not a huge porter fan, but this is very enjoyable.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.08/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 release, # 1730 (of how many? Don't know.)

Pours a golden-tan head, like a marshmallow toasted just right. Color is an extremely dark brown, edging into total blackness. Head doesn't stick around very long, which could mean higher alcohol. Leaves lots of lace splats and strings and splotches on the glass.

The aroma indeed offers a pretty big alcohol bite, although that could also be the very forward bourbon smell playing tricks. Although there's a little bit of roasted grain pushing through, this is basically a bourbon-dominant nose. As advertised, and good, but would be great to have the rest of the beer show itself. Maybe the flavor?

Oh yeah, no problem there. A big mass of gooey melted chocolate is what comes to mind first, while the whiskey and wood props it up and adds depth. It's like dunking a chocolate cake donut into a vat of chocolate fudge frosting then chasing it with a shot of fine bourbon...while sitting in a newly built log cabin (smell that wood!). What needs to happen in a beer like this is balance, and this totally achieves that. Dessert/sweet spice comes through subtly and carries into the finish. The alcohol is present but hardly overbearing. I'm guessing 8-9% range here.

Mouth is creamy and maybe even a little sticky, but never too thick. Does very well by the flavors, matching them nicely. Very smooth.

This is a big-flavored beer, and because the nature of the flavor includes pretty assertive sweet/chocolate, wood and bourbon/alcohol characteristics, it may be a little too bold to consider extremely drinkable, but I'm drinking it and liking it very much. On a hot summer day no less. One of this always-improving brewery's best so far...

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Photo of jlindros
4.27/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this one thanks to msulinski, and shared with the Central New England BA Meetup.

A: Light creamy darker head over a pitch black beer.

N: Chocolate my friend! Chocolate is the key word here. Chocolate malt, chalky chocolate milk, bakers chocolate, nibs, etc. Some roasted malts, a slight fluffy malt, chewy nougat malt and some bitter hops with that, and a slight booze. A slight hint of oak and bourbon, but barely.

T: Again chocolate on the taste, lots of bakers chocolate, choc milk, malt, chewys malts with some caramel and nougat again. Then comes a strange wood flavor, woody esthers and like chewing on an old wooden shelf. A slight oak and bourbon that some out a bit more as it warms. Some vanilla too, with creamy flavors too. It starts to get bitter too with some roasty earthy charred malt flavors, but a little spicy earthy hop presence too. Slightly sweet in the flavor as well.

M: Semi thick and creamy, with decent carbonation.

F: bitter earthy charred malts, with lingering creamy chocolate milk and bakers chocolate. Somewhat malty finish too, a little more roasted malt and the slightest hint of warming booze. Semi dry as well. Again just a slight hint of oak and bourbon that seems to come out a bit more as it warms.

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Photo of MetalHopHead6
3.98/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Williamsburg Alewerks Bourbon Barrel Porter is remarkably smooth and creamy, rich, and oddly refreshing.

It poured dark brown to black, like dark chocolate, with a short fleeting tan head that left a thick tan lace curtain. Booze dominated the aroma, but the flavor was also sweet, with hints of whiskey, caramel, and chocolate, and strong long-lingering vanilla. The feel was remarkably smooth and creamy with nothing at all left behind. As a result, it was surprisingly good on a very hot day.

Williamsburg Alewerks Bourbon Barrel Porter has great flavor and ridiculous drinkability; however what sets it apart is the good-news-bad-news feel. The good news is the clean and crisp finish that makes it so much more than a dessert; the bad new is the complete lack of lasting impact.

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Photo of billab914
4.47/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage, bottle number 883. Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Bruery tulip. Poured black in color with a thin tan head barely covering the top of the beer. It didn't start with a huge head but what it did have stayed there pretty well. Moderate lacing on the glass as well.

The aroma shows the oaky wood flavor and some bourbon from the barrel aging, but isn't overpoweringly strong. There is some bitter chocolate and roasty porter flavors going on as well but they are a little milder then the barrel characteristics.

The taste has an oaky, vanilla flavor to it from the barrel. The bourbon is pretty mild and really adds to the beer and barrel flavors instead of overpowering it. This is pretty much exactly the way I like my bourbon barrel aged beers which is why I let it age a year. Besides the bourbon and barrel flavors, there is a nice dark and bitter chocolate flavor coming through along with a bit of roasty and burnt flavor. A little bit of brown sugar sweetness in the finish comes through very nicely. Excellent flavor overall.

The mouthfeel is on the thicker side and carbonation is low. Drinkability is also very good, it had a lot of great flavors and was a really enjoyable beer to sip on this evening. A year of aging really suited my tastes nicely on this one. The bourbon and barrel flavors really mellowed nicely and complimented the beer flavors instead of overtaking them like a lot of barrel aged beers do.

Overall this has been one of my favorite barrel aged beers so far. I'm sure a year in the cellar helped that a lot. Excellent beer overall in my opinion. I'm glad I put several 2010's in the cellar this year.

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Photo of boatshoes
4.32/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this and a few others up at the Grape and Gourmet in VA Beach while doing an art show with my folks. Great shop too by the way!

Appearance- Pours an opaque black out of the bottle. Very aggressive pour yields about an eighth inch of creamy brown head that shortly turns into a patchy sheet but otherwise sticks around. Mild amounts of lacing left as well while I drink.

Smell- Nose primarily consists of notes of roasted malt, along with lots of wood, vanilla, and bourbon integrated in a big way. Most all of the smells I expect from a good bourbon barrel beer.

Taste- Palate very similar in its emphasis on vanilla and wood right off the bat. Backed up and rounded out with more roasted malt notes, but I also get a lot of dark chocolate flavors coming through here as well. Big but well rounded.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Mouthfeel is substantial and creamy and drinkability is very solid for the style. I didn't have any trouble polishing off the remainder of my beer.

Overall, a very solid BB porter. I thought this was a vast improvement over Williamsburg Alewerk's base porter. Worth a try if you can get this beer.

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Photo of ebby82
4.03/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma- vanilla, bourbon, wood

Appearance- Dark as night, minimal head, a significant lacing.

Taste- upfront alcohol, but also a smokiness, oakey, hints of vanilla. The aftertaste is actually quite good, the smokiness is evident in the aftertaste, while the initial taste is a touch boozy.

Mouthfeel- Intense, maybe a bit too much alcohol upfront, thick, but not quite as thick as a stout. Otherwise, it tasted similar to a RIS.

I could not and would not drink more than one of these, but this is a good beer, and I'm interested to know what it will taste like in a year or so. This was also my first exposure to bourbon barreled beers of any type. I liked it so much that I tried the KBS soon thereafter, and I actually enjoyed the Porter more. The bourbon taste was definitely evident, but it wasn't as overpowering as KBS.

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Photo of tpd975
4.17/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I had heard great things about this one. Popped it open as a happy fathers day to me.

A: Pours a deep dark black with a small tan head. No retention or lace noted.

S: Aromas of coconut, and vanilla. Bold bourbon and oak. Hints of chocolate and mild roasted malts.

T: Loads of dark fruit, raisin, figs, and dates. Sweet and earthy. The boozy bourbon is there along with notes of oak. Subtle chocolate, roasted malt, and rum soaked raisins round things out.

M: Lite on carbonation, fairly still on the tongue with a nice smoothness.

D: Good, I sat back and sipped this one slowly. Nice sweet boozy dark fruit treat. It's a winner.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.98/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Released a bit late this time 'round (or so I've been told), but worth the wait. It pours a nearly opaque black-brown topped by a half-finger of greyish-ecru foam, which builds up slowly but fades much faster. The nose is simple, comprising bourbon, roasted malts, and a vague sense of wood (I'm leanin' toward oak on this one...). The taste shows a Harvey Dent-esque character: One face is heavy on the bourbon and oak; the other comprises a very light coffee, some roasted malts, and some molasses. The two halves run parallel, equally strong, throught the tasting. The body is pretty thick, with moderate carbonation, and a slight coating is formed, complete with a lingering oak flavor. Overall, this is not the pinnacle of barrel-aged beers, but a solid offering nonetheless, especially for one of my local (sorta) breweries.

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Photo of weeare138
4.12/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle 783 of 2009...
Appears a dark brown nearing black with a small tan head that never wants to fade away. Scattered bits of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of dark chocolate, brown sugar, toffee, vanilla, and light traces of bourbon.
Taste is of the aromas with vanilla, caramel, and bitter chocolate coming to mind amongst the flavors.
Mouthfeel is full bodied, smooth, a tad bitey from the wood aging, and semi-dry on the finish.

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Photo of maximum12
4.57/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to msulinski for a very nice trade this spring that included this bottle. 1055 of 2009 released per the label.

Pours black. The label said it would, too. The smell is a bourbon frontal-assault, an almost harsh explosion of the barrel drowning out everyone else. I like bourbon, or this would have been overwhelming.

The smell alarmed me a bit, until I took a sip. Holy crap. The blitz of bourbon in the smell relaxes into a hammock of perfectly balanced booze & dark, tasty malts. Underneath is a bevy of flavors. Roast is high on the list & helping to tame the barrel. Warm, pure vanilla, of course.

What sets this apart might be the porter base. This is a lighter, warmer, less intense version of a 'typical' barrel-aged dark beer. The porter holds up very nicely, & markets itself as a sipper, without the belly-filling characteristic of a BA RIS. While I split the bomber with my wife, I could easily take this down all by myself. The balance & drinkability is superb.

Excellent, excellent brew. One of the better barrel-aged efforts I've had in a while, & likely the best BA porter I've ever tasted. I hope this is an annual event!

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Photo of wchesak
4.15/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a growler at Whole Foods in Fairfax, VA
Poured into GD Yeti snifter

A - very dark brown opaque color, with tan colored head

S - lots of chocolate and vanilla, a bit of smoke, some toffee

T - lot more chocolate, vanilla at the end, aftertaste is very complex and lingers for a while - bourbon, toffee, earthy, oaky, smoke at the very end

M - thick, bit under carbonated - last glass from growler is the reason, coats the mouth well

D - nice sipper, heat is hardly present and shows up more in the bourbon flavors, never hot though, had some fajitas with it, and went well with the grilled steak and spicy flavors, for 15 bucks for a growler - not too bad for the quality and abv

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Bourbon Barrel Porter from AleWerks Brewing Company
4.21 out of 5 based on 589 ratings.
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