The Angel's Share Grand Cru | The Lost Abbey

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The Angel's Share Grand CruThe Angel's Share Grand Cru

Brewed by:
The Lost Abbey
California, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 16.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
A blend of both bourbon and brandy barrel aged Angel's Share aged in oak barrels from 1-5 years

Added by Bitterbill on 02-15-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 110 | Ratings: 265
Photo of Lothore
4.39/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got the last pour before the keg blew at Toronado BW festival. It was about half head but I got it for $1!

A- Pours a deep, dark brownish color with a huge, tan head.

S- Lots of brandy, raisin, oak.

T- Sweet raisin, bready, spices, brandy, slight alcohol burn.

M- Thick with medium carbonation.

D- Awesome beer, i'm glad I got the chance to taste it (barely!).

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Photo of Brenden
4.32/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm so glad I got to try this one; I didn't realize it was a limited release, so even more thanks to a74gent for offering to get me this one and bringing it home for me. Notes are a couple months old.

The color is a thick, somewhat viscous dark brown that's just a bit too dark to see through and has some reddish hues in the light. A light brown head about a finger high forms that leaves some good lacing.
There's just so much going on in here, beginning right off with an aroma that comes pouring out powerfully. All kinds of sweetness, including toffee, vanilla and caramel complimenting dark fruits, a boozy bourbon or brandy-like smell, and a light note of wood. Brown sugar and fig sweetness comes out as well.
This is certainly a sipper, and quite boozy without having an overly alcoholic presence. This beer is somehow very much like a bourbon or a brandy without being too much. Othwerise, all the complex sweetness comes out that's in the nose, primarily vanilla and plum/raisin with the others underneath. Lest is get too sweet, the dryness of the oak flavor really adds a nice element of balance, and malts aren't lost in translation. Hops are also light but present.
This would seem to be a beer that would lend itself to a certain heaviness, but, while it is certainly fuller in body, it isn't too heavy. Carbonation is light and works well.
This one was just fantastic, and, while expensive, I'm certainly glad I got to try it.

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Photo of cdkrenz
3.56/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

This bottle cost me $16.99. I'm really looking forward to it being worth it's weight. Let's find out.

A - At first glance this brew in not one that I would pick out of a lineup. Poured into the heart of a large brandy snifter this beer offers zero head. There's a light hurricane shaped wisp of gray at the surface that continues to rotate slightly as if it's still fermenting even after the pour. The body is a deep, deep purple and has a thicker than normal consistency.

S - Definitely a raisin aroma along with a sweet black licorice. There are hints of oak, which makes sense since the beer was aged in oak barrels.

T - Wow, this is a really pungent beer. The alcohol flavor is evident and the flavors are bordering on too much. The flavors of raisin and anise amidst the oak do not work well with one another. For that reason this brew must be sipped, slowly. Don't judge right away.

M - The feel is dry in the middle and in the finish. It actually has a coarse acidy feel throughout. It does not go down with any level of smooth.

~ I jumped to conclusions far to soon with this brew. Give it a chance. It will take nearly 3/4 of the bottle before you realize what you've got. Once you're done, you'll find the 'head' on this brew is more than any angel could offer.

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Photo of ToasterChef
4.1/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from my notes. This bottle was split 10 ways at a private tasting for Uprising members at Novare Res.

A: Dark brown liquid--nearly black. Tiny tan foam head.

S: Bourbon and sweet plum.

T: Sweet malt, bourbon. Some spices (probably a mixture of the brandies). A little bit of burn going down.

M: Full body, medium carbonation. A thick coat is left behind.

D: A little tough to drink; lots of flavors and a high ABV. This is one that is worth sharing.

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Photo of treyrab
3.85/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A big thanks goes to Matt for sending this from the release a while ago. It's been sitting in my 55F cellar since I received it. I wanted to keep this cooler as the rumors have been circulating of infection. I decided to test it out tonight. Split with the girlfriend into two separate snifters.

A: Open the bottle with a nice pop of the cork. Some of the ghostly smoke streams out, which is a good sign for the lack of carbonation lately for Lost Abbey. Pours a muddy brown with a small tan head. Very murky brown, with perhaps some mahogany brown. The head does not last long, and goes to a still liquor look.

S: Upon initial whiff the cork smells of sour cherry, Brett, Pedio, and funk. Ironically, the beer itself does not have the same characteristics. Given the smell of the cork, I would have guessed a wild was inside this bottle. The beer smells kind of funky, but not sour. Nice bourbon soaked raisins, cherry, and caramel. This is blended with some Belgian yeast and spices with chocolate and toffee. Very interesting.

T: Same as the above, really. Chocolate and bourbon, with rum and bourbon soaked raisins. An interesting Belgian funk comes through as well. Not a lot, but just enough to let you know its there.

M:D: A little thin, but I expected that for the high alcohol and bourbon.

Overall, this will be infected to high heaven in a few months. It was starting to get funky now, and any longer it would be to the extreme I feel. Not bad now though, but wish I drank it sooner.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.84/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

mhewes sent me a bottle of this. Thank you, Michael. In between reports of infection, and the bitter disappointment that comes with realizing that I might not drink any Younger this year, I need something good to cheer me up.

Pouring a very dark brown with a dense, brown head that recedes to a ring, leaving no lace. The nose is rather incredible. Initially very vinous and almost tart, as this breathes, the rather big barrel character is comes out. The blend of bourbon and brandy is close to perfect. The bourbon character is classic Lost Abbey, dry, leathery, tannic, woody, a little vanilla and plenty of charred oak. The brandy pairs beautifully with the grapes, lending an almost port-like character. The dry Angel's Share base is, as always, incredible. Brown sugar, a little cocoa and some toffee are noticeable, and that leather character is great.

The palate opens rather with a big barrel character, and clearly, a blend of bourbon and brandy. Charred oak, a little vanilla, burnt sugar, booze, grape skins, tannins and leather. The blend of bourbon and brandy is a stroke of genius IMO. The mid-palate has brown sugar, leather, wine and a moderate port-like character. The grapes work very well with the brandy, this is a truly harmonious blend. Drying on the finish with a perfect blend of tannins, leather and booze. Oxidation is noticeable, with the sherry and port as well as some dark fruit and cocoa. Medium in body with moderate carbonation, this only improves as it dies down. Incredibly drinkable, I hope I get to drink this on tap, I could go for a liter of this stuff. Truly among the upper echelon of barrel aged beers, along with Brandy Old Stock and Matt.

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

375ml bottle into 25oz snifter. Thanks to craytonic for this one.

A: Pours an extremely dark brownish-red with about a finger of dark brown fizzy head that quickly bubbled away into a very thin fuzzy film and collar. No lacing.
S: Big notes of booze, figs, caramel, dark cherries, and dates. There is maybe a hint of wood and a touch of grapes. There's also something I can't place my finger that I'm not a fan of.
T: Big fruity notes of figs, dates, raisins, grapes and cherries, just like the nose. It's also rather buttery. The finish is woody and full of oak and bourbon. Aftertaste is really sweet with notes of brown sugar with a hint of tobacco.
M: Carbonation is very spritzy over a full body and decently thick mouthfeel. The alcohol warmth is actually pretty mellow in this, and there are much more alcoholic flavors than there is alcohol heat. Still my throat can feel it as it trickles down.
D: I'm not sure how I feel about this one. I like it, but I don't think I would ever want to have it again. I can tell there is quality here, but there's something about it that is keeping me from instantly raving about it. Still, not a bad sipper on a cold night.

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Photo of PeprSprYoFace
4.84/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is the beer that got me into limited releases. Went to the first release when they put it in bottles. I lost some respect for it during the carbonation fiasco but this Grand Cru version has restored my faith.

Review #300

Pours a super dark brown. Thin tan head dissapated fast. No lacing.

Aroma is crazyest of any beer I can think of. Soo much dark figs and raisins. Little bit of chocolate. Lots of oak compared to the other versions. Very pot wine-ish.

Mouthfeel is malty and sweet but not too much. Perfect carb on the lighter side.

Overall I love angels share and it was my first rare beer I ever drank. Which makes it appropriate for me to make it my 300th review.

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Photo of charlzm
3.46/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Consumed on November 6th, 2010 in a Triple Petrus snifter. Poured from a 12.7 ounce bottle purchased at BevMo Burbank a few days prior. Label reads "Angel's Share Grand Cru", 12% ABV. Bottle has some illegible yellowish numbers around the bottom rim; impossible to tell if these are batch/dates.

Bottle opened with a muted little pop. Beer is the color of prune juice (and about as cloudy and opaque). Absolutely zero carbonation.

Aroma is strong, redolent of cherries and dark pitted fruits (raisins, prunes, dates). Slight woody character. Boozy.

Flavor follows nose for the most part, with the addition of a peaty, salty character and a touch of rich chocolate and some muted vanilla. Low bitterness: what there is seems to come from the oak barrel aging. Quite sweet: perhaps a bit too much.

Mouthfeel is quite thick and coating (like rich chocolate milk). No carbonation = cloying. Alcohol warms on the tongue and significantly in the belly.

Not a value for the price. This beer would be far more drinkable with SOME carbonation, especially a low amount, to help cut the alcohol and thick sweetness.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 11-07-2010 03:45:46

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Photo of sugit
4.07/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Very aggresive pour yeilded about a finger of head, but quick gone from there to nothing. Dark brown with a tinge of red. Zero lacing. Very little carbonation.

S: Very strong aroma. Hits you from a foot away. Very sweet smelling and lots of bourbon. Toffee and a little bit of woodiness.

Really a nice aroma to it. Reminds me a lot of AS Brandy.

T: Very rich. Lots of things going on. As with the nose, very sweet brandy and lots of bourbon take the forefront. A little more oak/wood than in the nose. Some dark fruit, prunes from what I can tell, also mixed in there. Every so slight grape notes, that make you go ah ha! That's what that is!

M: Nice and think, almost perfect in that sense for me. Too low of a carbonation level though. I hope LA doesn't make this a habit again. It really hurts the experience for me.

D: Def a sipper. Would glad to split a bottle with someone. A little too low of a carb level for me. Slight booze burn that reminds you it's a 12% beer.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.87/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Commercial Description:

"Nearly four years ago, we hired some Angels to work their magic on all manners of oak barrels and beers in our barrel program. As Angels go, they're alright. Sometimes they misplace barrels. Other times, they're selfish and hide the best barrels. And at least one of these Angels is mischievous from time to time adding grapes to the barrels to see what might happen. Recently, we found some of these "Angels Barrels" which we'd lost over time. After tasting them, we decided to marry some of the barrels together creating a time in a bottle snapshot of some of our favorite Angel's Share barrels. This Grand Cru bottling has been thoughtfully blended to bridge the first batches with our most recent releases. We hope that you, like us and our Angels, find it worthy of the designation Angels Share Grand Cru."


I had the pleasure of trying 10 different randomly selected bottles of Angel's Share Grand Cru earlier today. Only one bottle showed a slight off note, and it was only really detectable next to the other 9 bottles. On its own, I don't think it would have raised a red flag. I'm not really sure what's going on with the few off bottles I've heard about and the one that I tried, but I think the problem isn't batch wide. That being said, I'd still recommend opening your bottles now because the beer simply cannot improve. It's great right now but I think it was as good, if not better, on the day it was released. What are you waiting for? Drink it.


It pains me to report that this beer is now infected, and it's not for the better. 5 friends around San Diego (I have 5 friends!) told me about opening infected bottles over the last month, so I cracked one of my own a couple weeks ago...not infected, still delicious! However, the bottle I opened tonight was clearly infected and just not enjoyable. AS Grand Cru as I knew it and loved it is now gone. Perhaps one of my last couple bottles will be fine, but I don't have high hopes for it given the recent trend. If you have it, open it _now_ and you might get lucky. Mine have been stored at 55 degrees, so perhaps those that were cold stored have fared better. With the addition of grapes, I knew that holding on to this delicious beverage for any length of time was a gamble. It was ready to drink when it was released, and I should have drank them all. You win some and you lose some, but with barrel aged beers I seem to losing more often than not as of late. I don't think I'll be hanging on to these types of beers anymore, rather, I will make more of an effort to drink them fresh. Score not adjusted to reflect infection, original score is from 2/14/2010. RIP.


I tried the beer out of two separate bottles yesterday, but decided to wait and review it after opening my own bottle in a calmer setting. The beer pours dark brown with an auburn tinge. A frothy one finger head flares up as a result of the hard pour. Retention is good and lacing is scattered. I've come to expect little to no head from Barrel Aged Barleywines, so this was a welcome sight. After the head dies down, a swirl of the glass revitalizes it. Legs are perceivable on the sides of the glass.

The aroma is of dark toffee, oak, brown sugar, and a little caramel, with strong vanilla notes and evident barrel tannins. The Cabernet Franc grapes are immediately noticeable, providing a light vinous sweetness, and they do the beer credit. Oxidation is sherry-like and graceful. Dark fruits, aside from the grapes, are of dates and figs. Notes of bourbon and brandy are both prominent.

The flavor opens with sweet dark toffee, dates, and caramel. Cabernet Franc grapes enter with celerity and linger for the duration of the taste. The marriage of rich barrel aged barleywine and vinous notes is a wonderful thing to behold. Oak is evident, and there's just a dash of tartness accompanying notes of light sherry oxidation. I find both bourbon and brandy in the flavor, but the bourbon has a slightly stronger presence. As the beer warms, the grapes become more prevalent and I begin to detect plums. The brown sugar toffee finish is rich and vinous, ending somewhat dry and sticky. Alcohol is well hidden throughout, making itself most known in the finish and imparting a warming quality.

Angel's Share has, in the past, been rife with inconsistent levels of carbonation, but I can't ask for any more than I find here. Carbonation is at an upper low to lower moderate level. The mouthfeel is full and sticky. Lost Abbey nailed it on this one. Despite the painful price ($20), I have no regrets about buying this. This is probably my favorite version of Angel's Share to date.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.9/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Been waiting for this one. Took a while to track down, but thanks to some generous traders I was able to track a couple bottles down. I've heard good things...

Pours a very dark brown in color. There are some reddish highlights around the edges. Looks great on the pour. A nice quarter inch of head forms on the pour. Cheers to Lost Abbey!
Smell is heavenly brandy, toffee and sweetness. Right up my alley. The brandy and the oak are the standouts here. Outstanding.
Taste is even better than the smell. More brandy, oak, toffee, tannins and a subtle sweetness. Incredible. Everything I look for in a sipper. Perfect mouthfeel and amazingly drinkable for the ABV. A truly worldclass beer. Unfortunately this is a little difficult to track down. I could drink this on a regular basis. I hope Tomme gives this one another go around at least. World Class!

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Photo of alleykatking
4.17/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 375ml caged and corked bottle. Many thanks go out to jdefont for bringing this to a recent tasting. I've been looking forward to this one Justin!

A- Pours a very deep brown color. 1/4 finger tan head that dies rather quickly. Very light spots of lace on the sides of the snifters.

S- This one is interesting to say the least. There is a lot of darker fruits with plums, raisins, and some fig. Heavy alcohol tones which display a light bourbon hint in the nose. There isn't much in the way of the brandy barrel but I suspect this will come out more in the taste. Oak tones come in the ending more which quickly gets covered by a medicinal alcohol aroma.

T- Light roasted malts in the front along with a nice brandy barrel tone (think green apple skins, caramel, and light vanilla) along with a alcohol flavor. Middle of the beer mellows out a bit with darker fruits mixing with brown sugar and light vanilla undertones. The bourbon barrel comes into the ending with a nice warming alcohol from the back of the flavor to the aftertaste. Other ending tones consist of oak and light charred overtones. Some more of the vanilla that comes has been in the whole beer still appears in the ending.

M- Medium heavy mouthfeel. Carbonation is good for the style being a little low (which I think is what they are going carbonation issue here). Barrel notes and light roasted darker fruits left on the palate. Warming alcohol with vanilla, darker fruits, and charred barrels in the aftertaste. Flavors I thought were well balanced for the beer. Heavy drying on the palate from the alcohol. Clean tasting through and through.

D- This was a good beer to sip on. Lost Abbey has never put out a bad beer in my opinion. The ABV was not in your face the entire time in the forefront but you could tell it was a 12% beer. A glass of this of enough for me but I would love to share this one with a friend or two.

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Photo of corby112
4.44/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This bottle opened with a faint pop which is alarming considering all of the LA carbonation issues. Fortunately it appears that this bottle is carbonation. Pours pitch black and completely opaque without even the slightest trace of lighter color when held to a ligh source. Thin fizzy half finger mocha colored head that immediately fades into a thin lasting ring. No lacing whatsoever.

The nose on this beer is absolutely incredible! Lots of earthy oak notes accomanied by hints of vanilla, bourbon, brandy, roasted malt and dark fruit. Lately, a lot of BA age beers I've had smell and taste like alcohol bombs but this smells incredibly complex and well balanced.

Chewy medium body that has all the complexity and balance that the nose suggested. There is plenty of heat and sweet alcohol from the high ABV and barrels but this is countered by a slightly smokey roasted malt body. Hints of chocolate and toast as well as some dark fruit notes, especially grape and dark berries. Vinous with plenty of bourbon flavor and maybe some brandy too accompanied by subtle vanilla flavor from the barrel aging. Surprisingly the ABV is well masked making this pretty quaffable een though there is some nice warmth in the finish. I've been harsh critic of alost Abbey beers recently but this one is awesome and I highly recommend it.

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Photo of bmwats
4.22/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 500 ml bottle into a mini-snifter tasting glass.

A: Very dark brown. No real head or lacing to speak of. Very deep, dark, and intimidating.

S: A little grain note, but mostly wine grape goodness. Just a little dark chocolate, grape, and blueberry.

T: Tastes like a nice merlot. Grape, blueberry and licorice notes.

M: Thick and robust. Really full-flavored and heady. Sweet notes up front, dry in the finish. A slightly sour-sweet lingers throughout.

D: Sip and enjoy.

Atmosphere is pretty nice. Appearance is deep, dark, and intimidating. No head or lacing to speak of. Nose is full on wine grape with a little grain. Flavor similarly, is mostly dominated by the red wine characteristics. Not in a bad way though. The beer notes combine well. Very unique and flavorful combination, in my opinion. A unique and flavorful experience. Overall, a great quaff.

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Photo of AgentZero
4.32/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Contributed by myself to our Epic Chicago Tasting.

A - A very brown beer, nearly block. Not a ton of head on this one, had to do the hard pour to get anything to show up. Head was tan, that left some spots on the sides.

S - Interesting smell, I get a lot of buttery goodness on this, which I actually like. It melds well with the dark fruit and chocolate. Little bit of wood, I find this to be really great smelling.

T - Love this one, great buttery taste with chocolate, cherries, dark fruit, and some vanilla. Hints of molasses come in on th end, making this one nicely complex with a lot of depth. Fantastic beer.

M - Thick, syrupy, maybe could do with a touch more carbonation but it works well for this beer.

D - Solidly drinkable considering the ABV. The sweetness may get to some at some point, but this is an awesome beer I would love to have more of.

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Photo of Lukafer
3.8/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to jdefont for the pour!

Pours dark brown, little to no head, almost no carb visible.  Smells are bourbon, and oak, really boozy smell.  Tastes are oak, slight chocolate and licorice, oaky and boozy, slight burnt sugar as well. Extremely high alcohol flavor.  Mouthfeel is slightly disappointing, with little carb. Despite the lack of carb,  drinkability is still pretty good for a high ABV. Not as good as I was hoping it'd be, but still a good beer. 

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Photo of nkersten
4.1/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a NB globe. Very dark brown slightly translucent at the edges, thin foamy tan head settles to a ring at the edge of the glass. Smell is lots of dark fruit, raisins, oak, bourbon, a bit of apple and grapes, alcohol. Taste is boozey barrel up front followed by a silky, buttery vanilla, bourbon, oak, grape skins, slightly tannic, raisins, and a bit of heat in the finish. A very heavy body with low carbonation. The heat takes away from the drinkability a little, but overall this is a very tastey beer.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.57/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

375 ml corked and caged bottle into a Lost Abbey stemmed glass. Thanks go to Sean9689 for hooking me up with this in a trade.

Pours black at first but holding this up to the light reveals more of an actual deep dark brown body on this, topped with about a ½ finger of fizzy burnt mocha head. This dissipates pretty quickly, finishing with a thin foamy ring around the edges that maintains itself nicely and ringing the sides of the glass with light spotty lace and oils that slowly ooze down the sides. Bourbon and brandy play tug-of-war in the nose with notes of fruit, vanilla, and burnt spicy molasses all mingling together into a powerful mélange of woody, sticky, and charred barrel character. Cocoa powder, sugars, and toast sit way underneath but are present if you dig pretty deep on this. Warm alcohol fusels sting the nose a tad.

The taste is once again a tale of two barrels, with the fruitiness, vanilla, and caramel flavors of the brandy mixing with the tannins to give this a green tangy tartness that spreads out through the profile and fluctuates in intensity as I work the bottle. Burnt molasses and brown sugars from the bourbon sit underneath and latches on to the base notes of chocolate and roast. Overall this comes off as a warm burnt stickiness that the drenches the palate and finishes with a smack of vanilla character and a mouth-enveloping charred dryness that seems to stretch for miles. The mouthfeel is full bodied; with a thick creaminess that gets chewier feeling the longer you hold it in your mouth. There is a ton of slickness from the barrel, giving this a slippery feel that counteracts the heaviness of the body. Speaking of which, the 12% ABV is just marvelously hid and despite the obvious beefy alcohol presence, I can't believe just how smooth this is, with no stinging heat and the alcohol mostly being confined to the brandy and bourbon notes.

Uh, this was pretty freaking good. The tartness threw me for a loop at times (I'm pretty sure that this was just a combination of flavors and not anything infection related) but it seemed to fluctuate in its assertiveness and never really become distracting. What does stand out here is the perfect balance of barrel flavors and the absolutely ridiculous drinkibility for such a huge beer. This is fantastic stuff. The Lost Abbey did right by this release.

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Photo of CrellMoset
4.55/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

New 500 mL (I think?) bottle of The Angel's Share Grand Cru, courtesy of a very generous New England BA - many thanks! Served in a Bruery snifter on a brisk, near-Turkey Day night.

Appearance: Pours a dirty, raw sepia, sort of the color that beer actually appears through brown glass. It's definitely been filtered, a fact suggested by the crystalline transparency that this beer achieves right around the edges, enough to reveal this beer's appearance's most charming characteristic - thousands of jewel-like streams of imperceptibly tiny, darting bubbles, racing upwards to replenish a foamy collar, itself bejeweled, bright and shiny. For the record, the collar is all that remains of what was formerly one-finger of lightly tanned, fizzy head. It showcases the sort of retention you have to expect from a beer with overwhelming barrel characteristics that clocks in at 12.0% abv, with no side lacing of which to speak, only slight and intermittent surface dusting, and the aforementioned collar (which is only kept alive by aforementioned carbonation). A good looking beer overall, especially if you know what to expect going in.

Aroma: Barrel #184 is making love to my nose here, and dominates the aroma. That is, the nose is characterized - in the barrel sense of things - by a strongly brandy-esque note, lightly fruity, simply sweet, and with strong notes of French oak. It's a refined booziness, elegant and high up in the olfactory register, and mingles well with the elements of the base beer - slight char, toast, toffee, and brown sugar, all quite dry. Slight vanilla is present around the edges, but it's buried a little by the ethanol-esque (but not hot) liquor notes.

Taste: Way more of the base bere here, though it's still a somewhat refined, well-aged beer. Unsurprising, given, well, the age of many of the constituent components of this one. First, we'll tackle the base beer, as it's definitely the one constant in all the AS releases and additions here. It's ... well, it's Angel's Share, quintessential and undeniably unique. Strong brown sugar dominates - sweeter than in the nose - with flourishes of toffee, molasses, and caramel as well as a slew of dark fruits, mostly raisin, though plenty of fig as well.

The barrel aging adds something too, believe it or not. A huge amount of brandy character is present in this one, and whether or not that's a genuine sensory note or the fact that - in the many months since I've had a brandy AS - I've begun to delve in to brandy more I can't quite say. Regardless, the tawny, slightly sweet, mildly chemically, undeniably fruity and estery alcohol note it contributes really compliments both the sweetness of the malts of the underlying base beer as well as its darker fructose-esque notes. A definite spiciness is clearly contributed by the bourbon addition, though it's again a well-refined, aged spiciness, delicate and well-blended. I struggled a little at first to detect the grape addition, but I think - after substantial concentration and warming - that I'm getting a few notes that approach the unique tea leaf-esque tanning contribution that one gets from red grapes, particularly in the way they feel on the tongue. Huge vanilla notes make everything contributed from the underlying beer slightly brûlée-esque, and the entire beer is - of course - permeated by wood sugar, slightly coconut-esque, a little nutty, and all-around delicious.

Mouthfeel: A bit of a contrast, as this beer is initially too carbonated - too eruptive, explosive, over the top when it's at its most attractive - and ultimately levels off to a far less attractive but far more pleasant mouth. Letting this one sit for 20 minutes achieves a level of creaminess that overwhelmingly suggests crème brûlée, but with enough residual carbonation that the malts make nothing sickly sweet. It'd be nice if everything could exist simultaneously, but perhaps I'm asking for too much.

Drinkability: One that grew on me as time we on, but I've noticed that's the way things are with Angel's Share. 4-parts brandy to 2-parts bourbon definitely shows through, particularly in the nose, but the melding of the two has produced something unique and very enjoyable. Is it boozy? Yeah. It is high in abv%? Um, yeah. Is the booze noticeable? In a way, yes. But is it harsh? Oppressive? Off-putting? Unappealing? No on all counts. Any alcohol present in this one is immensely warming, and you feel it not in your nose, not on the roof of your mouth, but instead in your chest. This is a well-blended beer, and one which you're not going to run away from because its ethanol components are shining through a little too brightly. This beer meets the standard and more, and the "fire" and "ice" dichotomy I've heard used several times before is more than applicable here. One of the best beers I've had in the entirety of 2010, this one is a must seek-out for any fan of -bal beers.

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Photo of BeerAndBourbon
4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks for sharing this beachbum1975!

A. Pours a milky brown with little to no head.

S. Brown sugar sweetness rests atop a heavenly bed of oak mixed with the perfect ratio of bourbon to brandy.

T. The bourbon and brandy are both very apparent. In with the mix is the oak, dark fruit flavors, brown sugar sweetness, and some roasted malt chocolate flavor.

M. Full bodied beer with just a touch of carbonation.

D. Delicious. I've yet to meet an Angel's Share that I don't like and this is certainly no exception. Damn I love me some Angel's Share.

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Photo of beachbum1975
4.67/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Shared this with urbancaver and his friends yesterday. Review from notes.

I got the last pour of this beer into my small snifter. Very little head produces after a moderately aggressive pour.

Sits a brown, murky goodness in my glass with oily traces coming up the sides of my glass. I also observed a large (pea sized) chunk of yeast sitting in the bottom of my pour and the legs appeared cloudy or dusty. That's okay by me.

This still has the best nose of any barrel aged beer I've ever had. The use of wood, bourbon and brandy is top notch. I could seriously sit and savor the leathery, woody mix all night long... World class nose.

The flavor of this beer matched the nose. Complex, complex, complex. A heavenly mix on leather, vinous, bourbon, oak and again done by the masters of the trade.

Mouthfeel was my only complaint. It sat with just the smallest bit of carbonation. It it was slightly more carbonated, this would have received a 5.

Fantastic on the senses.

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Photo of Urbancaver
4.61/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Strong strong buttery bourbon flavours with hints of the brandy coming through. Strong alcohol coming through the sweetness and almost syrupy flavors A very potent beer that is incredible smooth and flavourful! So incredibly good. Thank you to Shane who brought that to the barrel aged beer tasting this afternoon!

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Photo of ktrillionaire
4.69/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Ticked 07-09-10

Thanks to Sean9689 for bringing this to Alex's

A - It pours way black - almost no light passes through - with a moderate tan head and it deposits little curlicues of lace.

S - Delicious aromatic impressions of chocolate-covered dark fruit mingle with sublime booze-barrel notes. Maple and molasses notes appear after a bit.

T - The blend of beer, barrel and booze lends big flavors of chocolate-cocoa-hazelnut, impressions of vanilla, caramelized sugar, and maple, as well as dark fruity notes of raisin, date, fig, and prune. There is a vinous, Quad-y or EBW-like quality to the taste and feel. Super delicious.

M - Silky smooth, softly carbonated, very nice.

D - Exceptional.

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Photo of Verecund
1.99/5  rDev -54.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Bottle with Bucketboy on 10.26.2010.

Pours a dark, nearly night black with a thin tan head. Spoiler: This is my favorite part of the beer. It's all downhill from here.

Sweet booziness, caramel, and buttery popcorn. Grape brandy.
I don't want to dwell too much on this, so I'll make it quick: tastes of sour white grapes, plums, molasses, booze, and a brandy-like sweetness runs through it (to little effect). As it warms, I can't get through the permeating, unbalanced soured grape / vinous flavor. This is not good.

Surprisingly light and not as rich or thick as I expected. Tannic finish. Somewhat hot.

I came here to commiserate, but it looks like I may be alone here in finding this rather unbalanced, overly grapey, and not as rich as I expected, given a recent tasting of Deliverance (which was far superior, IMHO).

EDIT (Jan 2011): Based on others' recent experiences, this may have been an infected bottle.

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The Angel's Share Grand Cru from The Lost Abbey
4.36 out of 5 based on 265 ratings.
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