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The Angel's Share - Bourbon Barrel-Aged | The Lost Abbey

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The Angel's Share - Bourbon Barrel-AgedThe Angel's Share - Bourbon Barrel-Aged

Brewed by:
The Lost Abbey
California, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Down in Kentucky and across the pond in Scotland, distillers who age their whiskeys for many years refer to the evaporation of the spirits from their barrels as “The Angel’s Share.” We couldn’t agree more. Each time a barrel is filled, a measure of liquid seeps into the oak and is lost for good.This striking Strong Ale is brewed with copious amounts of Caramel malt to emphasize the vanilla and oak flavors found in freshly emptied bourbon or brandy barrels. The beer spends a year in oak before it is packaged for release.

Added by scottoale on 08-23-2006

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Reviews: 683 | Ratings: 1,831
Photo of woosterbill
3.92/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On-tap at Sunset Grill + Tap into a 5oz tasting flute.

A: The body is jet black with just the faintest hints of dark copper highlights, and (thankfully) sports a thin but distinct head of ultra-fine tan bubbles. A ring sticks around for the duration, and leaves some light lacing. Nice.

S: Strong bourbon, oak, vanilla, maple, caramelized fruit, and some booze. Intense, yet surprisingly balanced.

T: Starts out with straight whiskey, then soon becomes redolent of deep, rich, sweet malts. The interplay of oaky vanilla and fruity, caramel malt is intoxicating (both literally and figuratively). The downside is a hugely boozy finish, but it's hard to complain too much when the beer's 12%. Quite tasty.

M: Sticky and medium bodied with moderate, fine carbonation. Fine.

D: Five ounces is plenty (especially in a flight with other big beers).

Notes: I had this as part of a flight that included Double Crooked Tree, Allagash BA Black, and Péché Mortel. All were delicious, but this one stood out for being (surprisingly) the most balanced. It wasn't quite the blast of crazy huge syrupy flavor that I remember the Brandy version being, but it's a massive and delicious beer in its own right. I'd love to try the Grand Cru.


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Photo of Telix
3.92/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Taken from OLD notes, so I apologize:

A: A deep chocolate with fainter brown on the edges. Shows very minimal carbonation. It actually looks kind of thin...

S: Intense. Sweet, raisiny, some bitterness. Hoppiness is evident. Some cocoa.

T: Quite sweet, quite intense, with a porty, raisiny character. There is a bitter bite that shows a high level of hopping. There is a big, zesty character on the entire palate, which makes it feel effervescent on the tongue. There is some chocolate, and the finish is big, zesty, and bitter. It's an interesting brew. Big, boozy, sweet, with a huge tongue-zipping bitterness. Maybe some blueberry? Other fruits?

M: Pretty solid. Zippy on the tongue. Not too thick. The lack of carbonation lends to a bit of syrupyness.

D: Hrm. Sooo sweet, sticky, flat, pruney, porty... I could have had half the amount and been OK with it. Does that say something about it?

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Photo of Philousa
3.92/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Imbibed on tap at Harry's Hofbrau on 7/1/2012. This is a 2012 batch.

The beer sits a dark violet, brownish, like a drip brewed coffee, no cream. Poured with a slight ring of head around the glass. I can't even cover the top with a good swirl. Aroma starts with wood/oak with mild bourbon. Dark fruits - plums, dates - lies behind the stronger aromas. Black licorice, dark chocolate, vanilla bean, and wood dominate the palate on the first sip. The vanilla and wood stick around the whole time as it warms. There is a firm alcohol bite and fumey aftertaste. This beer ain't kidding! Teasing out the malt: lots of caramel sweetness to counter the alcohol bitterness. I'd attribute this sweetness to bourbon's natural sweetness, but I'm no hard alcohol expert. Makes me wonder what the brandy barrel aged version tastes like. Also, some raisin comes as it warms. Middling mouthfeel with a very dry aftertaste.

This comes across as an old ale to my untrained palate. The strong alcohol flavor is biting and abrasive, but in a beery way. It's just a notch below distilled, and there is complexity there. This is the best beer of that style I've had thus far. This is a treat. I'd only want this a couple times a year, if that.

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Photo of Jonatbr
3.9/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Very smooth malt flavor. I'm just not a fan of malty beers so I'm only giving it a 3.5 in taste as a reminder for myself should I forget I tried it. If you like pronounced malts, this is an excellent beer.

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Photo of callmescraps
3.9/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2010 on-tap at the Goat.

Appearance- Black? Deep reddish/brown. A nice inch of thick head, caps nicely on tap. Not much lacing.

Smell- Bourbon. Vanilla, cherry and raisins. A little booze. Nice.

Taste- Raisin for sure. Too much of it in fact. Bourbon is a little too mellow for me. Some coffee-ish roast. Dry. Seems to lack a little depth. I want there to be a flavor behind the flavor.

Mouth- Thin? How? It looked so nice. But it wasn't.

Drink- Easy as it goes.

I feel like other beers have passed this one by. It's a little thin, it lacks depth, and too much raisin for my taste. It's a good beer, but it could have been a great beer.

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Photo of mmercede
3.9/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this on Cask at Teresa's Next Door in Wayne, PA

A: Jet black with amber hues in the light

S: Oak, whiskey, sweet complex malt, dark fruits

T: A very nice strong bourbon flavor. Almost comparable to a Manhattan. similar to the smell with all sorts of complex malty flavors. The wood is especially evident toward the end.

M: Thick and Oily, but nice. Definitely a sipper.

D: I liked this one slightly more than the brady version. However, I'm not actively seeking it soon. I think it could age very well though.

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Photo of smcolw
3.89/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Dark brown color. Light shines through only on the edges. Beige head. Great right lace after each sip.

Strong sweet molasses to the nose. Lots of raisin.

Overwhelmingly warming from the alcohol. Save this as a dessert. Think dark treacle on the tongue. Very thick body with a low level of carbonation.

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Photo of MrDanno96
3.89/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2008 Vintage

A: Looks like one of the uncarbonated bottles... Cork came out with barely any sound. Pours a dark brown/mahogany with virtually no head. No lacing to speak of, but there are some legs sliding down the sides of the glass.

S: Figs, chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla, and a mix of nondescript booze and warming bourbon. Sweet and complex.

T: Lots of dark fruit sweetness, some dark chocolate, vanilla, and a little bourbon flavor too. Just a touch of bitterness hits the palate in the finish. Pretty nice balance overall, but it became just a touch cloying towards the end of the glass.

M: Thick and full bodied and pretty harsh from alcohol. The alcohol bite was a little surprising considering this bottle had 2 years on it. There was absolutely no carbonation in this either. Due to the nature of this brew, I don't think the lack of carbonation took TOO much away from the experience. However, I do think it would have been better with the appropriate amount of subtle carbonation.

D: An interesting sipper that I enjoyed trying. However, it's definitely not worth the $31.50 I paid for this 750 ml bottle. Now that it comes in smaller bottles I'd probably give a newer vintage another go.

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Photo of aaronplayford
3.89/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured a deep brown with no appearant carbonation. Smells bourbon, Carmel, raisin, and boozy. Love it.
Tastes boozy up front with vanilla but mid way through I get sharp tannin flavor that kills the bourbon experience; tannins take over the rest of the swallow.
Feels thick but not too thick.
This would have been a 4.5-5 but the tannins really kill it for me. It shocks the whole tongue.
I bought it in Fort Collins. The bottle is stamped 2012.

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Photo of 51mmz0rz
3.89/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12.7oz bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: No head to speak of, body is a very dark brown.

S: Deep aged stout aromas, this is how some 4-5 year old stouts I've had smelled. Add extra some boozyness though.

T: Nice dark malt flavors, heavy bourbon flavors as well.

M: Pretty flat, nothing to lift the thickness of the beer.

D: Overall I'm not sure about this one. It's very good, tastes like someone added a shot of bourbon to an old RIS. It's so different however that I find it hard to determine if I'd buy it again.

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Photo of popery
3.89/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

From notes, 9/5/10. An interesting and complex beer but it doesn’t quite work for me. The base beer seems quite enjoyable. It’s like a big barleywine with some deeper roast and dark fruit notes. There’s more going on in there than I can quite describe, but the bourbon flavor seemed to overpower some of this complexity. It has raisins, brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, bourbon, oak and even mild coffee and chocolate. This version just didn’t come together for me as much as the Grand Cru. It’s not quite a mess, but the alcohol heat was a bit much and the bourbon flavor sort of threw things out of whack more than it blended the flavors into a harmony. For bourbon barrel barleywines, I’ll take FW Parabola, AS Grand Cru and even Marin’s -bal Old Dipsea. I would have preferred this beer aged in a neutral oak barrel or perhaps just less time in the bourbon. It’s still rather good - hard to dislike a beer with so many interesting layers to it. Mouthfeel is a bit sticky (and some bottles probably aren’t carbonated properly but my notes are from the keg version). Interesting beer and I may revisit this rating once I try a future version.

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Photo of Auracom
3.88/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. cork&cage bottle share on Halloween 2011. 6-7 oz. poured into my snifter

A - Yup, flat. Deep brown coloring. No head or lacing. Retention amounts to a few light brown bubbles clinging on the sides of my glass.

S - Umm... bourbon. And a hell of a lot of it. Alcohol, oak, caramal, toffee, brown sugar, and syrup sum up the secondary aromas.

T - Not nearly as hot as I was expecting. Initial flavor is brown sugar and syrup followed by bourbon-whiskey barrel. Middle of the tongue highlights a bit of vanilla and oak. Backend shifts to dark fruits and caramel/toffee sweetness. Finish is mouthwatering and alcohol linger in the aftertaste and heats my throat for minutes afterward.

M - Medium body. Obviously low carbonation but I don't believe it ruins this drink. A bit smooth.

D - Judging from the aroma alone, I'd have said this tanks in drinkability. The taste really makes up for the nose in complexity, character, and balance. Still, it's as much a sipper as there's ever been and my friend ended up finish my final 2-3 ounces for me.

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Photo of jwinship83
3.88/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

375ml bottle. 2010 bourbon barrel edition. drank from my new belgium globe glass.

A- the cork comes out of the bottle with a very faint hiss. i was told that this one would have carbonation, but it appears that i was lied to. the pour itself is a very murky dark brown colored body with no more than a crown of khaki colored head. no lacing sticks to the sides of my glass.

S- what this beer lacked in appearance, it made up for in the nose. it starts out with sweet caramel malts. theres also some brown sugar in here. very sweet smelling. somewhat fruity as well. mostly cherries and dates, but a little plum also. the bourbon character is quite strong. so is the oak. there is also a fairly strong odor of alcohol in this one.

T- the taste starts out with a kick of bourbon. after that come the sweet malts i could smell. lots of caramel and fruits. cherries, plums, and raisins. the barrel aging makes itself known with plenty of vanilla. theres a little bit of alcohol burn also, but its very forgivable considering that this is a barrel aged barleywine.

M- the mouthfeel is this and syrupy. palate coating. there is a decently strong warming from the alcohol, but its expected. the carbonation is low, even for the english barleywine style which is supposed to have a low level of carbonation. not quite flat, but not what it should be either.

D- this is a slow sipper for sure. ideal for colder weather but i can see this being enjoyable anytime. more than one isnt an option because its too strong, and too expensive at $17 per bottle. ill pick up another one next year.

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Photo of notchucknorris
3.87/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Black with almost no head.

S: Pretty amazing smells out of this one. Lots of bourbon sweetness, caramel, oak, coconut and chocolate. Smells fantastic.

T: Lots of dark and booze soaked fruit flavors. A good bit of sweetness from the bourbon and some notes of wood. A bit boozy on the finish, but pretty tasty stuff.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.87/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served on draft @ Durty Nellies. Not a bad deal @ 7.50 per 10 oz considering an 375 ml bottle costs 15.99 at the store.

A; pours a murky dark brown, opaque, no head... doesn't look pretty but at 12.5% and a barleywine, I wouldn't expect much more

S: wow--- bourbon all over!! it is super strong. lots of vanilla and boozey notes, not picking up much in the way of beer notes, maybe some sweet malts...

T: just like the nose, this one is stiff when it comes to the bourbon. Tons of vanilla along with some sweet malts, somewhat spicey and boozey on the finish

MF: medium body- not thick and syrupy like I'd expect for a barleywine (this is a +)

D: well drinkability is a an interesting term when it comes to a bourbon barrel aged barley wine that hits 12.5 in the ABV dept. But I must say, this is balanced nicely as it isn't overly hot and there are a lot of delicate bourbon features present. My only complaint is that the bourbon hides the base beer too much.

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Photo of DaveAnderson
3.87/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2009 bottle, poured into a Darkness tulip.

A: Looks like cowboy coffee, only less carbonated. You would need to add CO2 to reach "flat". It's muddy and murky, which would be promising, if only it weren't flatter than the Texas Panhandle.

S: A lot of Bourbon-barrel beers smell great. This is no exception. It has the usual notes -- toffee, caramel, oak -- but I can't help thinking it would reveal more of itself if it had some bubbles popping. A little time and temperature change does not seem to coax more depth from this beer. Pity.

T: There's a sourness that wasn't hinted on the nose. It is otherwise very consistent with the smell. The label says 11.5% (I presume later years are the listed 12.5%), but it's well-masked.

M: Lack of carbonation really hurts this beer. It just seems thin.

O: I presume I would have given this beer at least 1/2 points higher on every metric, if it had even modest carbonation. As is was, I was really disappointed.

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Photo of OGShotzy
3.86/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz bottle was under filled. Beer never made it to the neck. I didn't realize until I left the store. Poured flat with no carbonation and certainly no lacing that others have written about. Smelled pretty good like vanilla and tobacco. However, the mouthfeel was much too flat to impress on taste or otherwise. Hopefully this was just a bad bottle (which certainly happens with barrel aged beers).

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Photo of scottfrie
3.85/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12.7oz bottle into snifter. Bottom of the bottle says Bourbon 2010. Consumed 8/5/2010.

A: Pours an extremely dark woody brown that looks black with basically no head. The beer is not flat, but it hardly frothed up with a vigorous pour. Faint collar around the glass that left spots of faint lace.
S: Big wiff of bourbon with a touch of vanilla and raisins. Very strong smelling. After it mellows a bit I get notes of dark fruit and various spices. Potent but great smelling.
T: Lots of bourbon, raisin, caramel, molasses, vanilla and woody spices. Definitely a sipper. Alcohol has some heat to it. Aftertaste is full of butterscotch and toffee. Slight medicinal cherry syrup notes as well.
M: Thick mouthfeel that is slick and pretty much flat. Alcohol is hot and rich. Could use a year or two.
D: Very smooth, complex and delicious flavors, but the alcohol overpowers much of them. I'm not opening my other bottle for a while. This beer could also use more carbonation. I don't know if it's just my bottle or if LA famous carbonation issue has reached my taste buds. Either way not a bad brew...if you like bourbon.

EDIT: 3/28/2012. Two year old bottle is still surprisingly hot and bourbon forward, and still very under-carbonated. I wasn't expecting it to get anymore bubbles, I'm just saying all the bottles I've tried are flat. Alcohol burn has gone down slightly, but not as much as I was expecting. Still a good beer, but if you hate bourbon stay away.

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Photo of BretSikkink
3.85/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This bottle is definitely under-carbonated, but the firm pour still elicits a cap of large bubbles. These settle down quickly, and the alcohol keeps the lace from settling on the glass. Amber brown color that settles into a deep brown in the glass, only lightened by a certain amount of ruby highlighting. I would hope for more carbonation.

The nose is quite vinous, with a lot of darkly fruity, bourbon-accented notes. Vanilla, woodiness, and a bit of diacetyl all make an appearance. There's a lot going on, and the power is good.

The flavor is strong and full. Complex notes of butterscotch, toasted malt, caramel and Goji berry run deeply through the tongue. Definitely a sipper, although 12+% doesn't weight quite as much in the mouth as I thought it might. The Bourbon is present, with lots of vanilla, hints of chocolate, a spicy oak pepper, and a mix of dessert-type wines. The mouthfeel is a little light given the overall size of this thing.

Underneath is a somewhat musty flavor, like its been aged, but this is a 2008 bottle. Very intriguing and complex notes, although a little bit "off". Not overly inviting or easy to drink, but a lot of fun and definitely off the beaten path. I expect nothing less from the Lost Abbey.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.84/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle we picked up at the Lost Abbey/Port brewery. We poured into a wide mouthed wine glass to allow the beer to breath a bit. The beer is an extremely caramel-brown color, with an appearance of thick, syrupy consistency. No head or other signs of carbonation. Definite aromas of oak/wood, as well as sweet malty/sugary smells. The beer has an initial sweet malt flavor, heavy in molasses and caramel notes, that remains robust but becomes crisp on the finish. The bourbon barrel aging definitely had a huge influence on this brew. Deep down, there are hints of some spice that dances in and out of your mouth. The overall sweet flavor makes this a very rich beer for me personally. I do enjoy the robust and strong flavors. The finish, as I said, is crisp, with slight sweet and sour highlights.

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Photo of cvm4
3.84/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a very dark brown with no head whatsoever.

S - Bourbon, sweet vanilla, caramel & oak.

T - Very sweet vanilla and tart following into an oak center with toffee and bourbon finish.

M - medium body & carbonation.

O - A flow down bourbon lane. Very good slightly too tart for me.

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Photo of Dope
3.84/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle date is obscured a bit, believe it to be a 2010 bottle. Possibly 2011.

A: Just the tiniest hiss as I remove the cork. Pours a very dark brown. No head, no lacing. Appears to be almost completely flat just like the terrible brandy version I just endured. Let's see if we can go 0/2 when drinking extremely expensive beers. Swirling it produces just the tiniest bit of foam for a second, so there is just a little bit of carbonation at least.

S: Smells like bourbon mixed with rubbing alcohol. Get some nice vanilla. Swear I get a band-aid type aroma too.

T: Bourbon up front, lots of it. Nice caramel and vanilla mixes in with some bright toffee. Get some chocolate in the middle, maybe a little char too. Finishes with a slap of grain alcohol and some oaky notes. Very boozy, lingering alcohol in the aftertaste.

M: Heavy but not as heavy as you'd expect a 12.5% flat beer to be. I think the high amount of bourbon waters it down and cuts it nicely with tons of alcohol. Still lacking, unfortunately.

O: Huh, that was a close one. Fully expected this to be terrible like the brandy version but it's pretty good. Super boozy and heavy on the bourbon. Flatness (though not completely flat) hurts the mouthfeel but honestly not as bad as you'd expect since the bourbon cuts the beer nicely. It's basically a sweet chocolate bourbon bomb, that's the best way I can describe it.

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Photo of far333
3.82/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Opaque and murky medium brown with orangey highlights, some soapy low foam bubbles up slightly leaving no head.

Aroma of nutty cocoa, brandy, dark malt and overripe fruit. Rich flavors of dark malt, whisky-soaked raisins, some oakey woodiness, vanilla and marshmallow, some cocoa. Very strong and boozey, but not too overpowering.

Moderate mouthfeel despite nearly no carbonation, a bit of tingle in the finish. Some warming of the cheeks and numbing of the tongue. Tasty beer, but IMO perhaps a bit overhyped.

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Photo of GbVDave
3.82/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a corked and caged 12.7oz bottle into two FoBAB tasters. Thanks to HollyAnn for the assist!


A: Took a little effort to get the cork out but there was no "pop" when it released. A vigorous pour netted a tiny but creamy film of mocha colored foam. Head retained for about 30 seconds and not one speck of lace was left behind.

S: Very nice aroma of bourbon, dark/fudgy chocolate, bruised dark fruit, brownies, brown sugar, and wet barrel.

T: Pretty much as above with the addition of a pretty distinct alcohol flavor. It fits in nicely and doesn't detract from the savory flavors.

M: A bit more slick and syrupy than I would've cared for. This could've used some much needed carbonation. Finish is quite long and develops nicely.

D: Splitting this small bottle was just the perfect size. Our taste buds were wrecked by this and we wondered how this would've scored if it had some frigging bubbles in it. I love paying a premium for flat beer.

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Photo of OnThenIn
3.82/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: A tiny bit of a dark tan hed that dissipates instantly. The beer itself is a very dark brown.

Smell: The aroma is dominated with vanilla, bourbon, alcohol, dark fruits, and plums.

Taste: A fair amount of sweetness, with a good bit of alcohol presence without being too hot. A tiny bit of bitterness to balance out all of the sweetness. There is some serious bourbon and a hint of vanilla, with a back end of dark fruits.

Mouthfeel: It was lighter than I expected with a medium to full body that didn't coat the mouth like I expected.

Drinkability: The first half of the 375 ml was not a challenge to drink, but by the last quarter of the bottle I wished I had split the beer with someone. It is rather powerful in flavor and just an intense beer that really is best in small quantities.

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The Angel's Share - Bourbon Barrel-Aged from The Lost Abbey
4.24 out of 5 based on 1,831 ratings.
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