New Belgium Brewing Company

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Strong Ale - American
Ranked #174
Ranked #19,988
3.86 | pDev: 9.84%
New Belgium Brewing Company
Colorado, United States
Very Good
Notes: A limited-edition collaboration between New Belgium and Knob Creek, Oakspire is a unique bourbon barrel ale aged with bourbon-steeped oak spirals and char from inside the barrel. Smooth notes of toffee, vanilla and caramel wrap up with a pleasantly warm finish. Oakspire: Where innovation meets tradition.
Reviews: 98 | Ratings: 277 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of lwillitz
lwillitz from Wisconsin

4.21/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12-oz bottle into Samuel Smith pint glass

A - 2 fingers light khaki over a cloudy body of copper amber, high visible carbonation, nice rings of lace

S - bourbon complexities and wood; hints of caramel and vanilla

T - caramel sweetness, notes of bourbon, wood, peppery spice, a touch of booze on the end; deliciously complex

M - smooth and creamy full body, moderate carbonation

O - a very nice brew for sipping

Jun 14, 2020
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DefenCorps from Oregon

3.1/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Bottle from New Seasons.

A clear Amber with a dense off-white head with good retention and lacing this looks great. The nose has a lot of toffee, bourbon, brown sugar, a moderate cereal and creamed corn note a light corn syrup note. The palate opens mildly sweet with a grainy, cereal note. The bready flavors of Munich malt tend to take on a real cereal note in bourbon barrel aged beers, with the sweetness and vanilla of the bourbon amplifying the grain of the base malt. This isn't wholly pleasant. The mid palate has mild notes of candy, bourbon, a light vanilla note and a touch of char. Sweetish on the finish a lingering boozy, grainy finish, this beer is medium in body and softly carbonated. A hair thin on the palate. Decent.

Mar 08, 2020
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mike22ne from Massachusetts

3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle, stamped "Enjoy by 02AUG20".

Looks ok, a nice amber caramel with a creamy head that fades to a small clump of fine bubbles. No lacing.
Smell and taste are clearly of bourbon, caramel malts, vanilla and oak. The aromas are nice but I find the taste a little limited as it seems to be just bourbon. Ends with an alcoholic finish.
Feels moderately full and slick, a little creamy, but strong alcohol heat - obviously less than straight bourbon but quite a bit more than I would expect for a barrel-aged 9%abv beer -perhaps that was intentional.

Overall pretty good. I'm glad I tried it but also glad I only picked up a single and not a whole pack, plenty of others I like better. A more serious bourbon enthusiast than me might like it more.

Jan 20, 2020
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Thankin_Hank from Texas

4.16/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Has the color of tea. No head really. Good lacing. Smells like whiskey and is rather mellow in taste. Rather light on the alcohol but the oak, caramel comes out and the whiskey is not strong. It has an smooth mouthfeel and these could be drunk right down. Overall a good beer as it’s smooth and has a different and good flavor. From a bottle at BJ’s Brewhouse.

Jan 19, 2020
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AnthonyKolka from Michigan

4.62/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I am not a person who really reviews beers on each of these aspects, the beer has an excellent mouthfeel and flavor. This thing has all of my favorite aspects of a great bourbon except the heat. Awesome sweet maltiness combined with great mouthfeel and a wonderful maltiness. If you like a good bourbon or a good winter warmer that isn't as spicy, you will love this.

Jan 18, 2020
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andypeters1971 from Georgia

3.73/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

good ale although I wouldn't classify it as strong dark. Has a hint of the taste of Anchor Brewing's beers and I don't know what causes that. But irregardless it's still a nice beer although I wouldn't put it in my Top 50 of all time. Still recommended

Jan 06, 2020
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Pegasus from Texas

4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Slightly hazy amber orange, with a large, fine-beaded white head, which retains rather well. Thin, fine-beaded lacing coats the glass walls. Profuse, minute bubbles drift lazily to the surface.

Aroma: Very sweet caramel aroma with strong notes of bourbon, and moderate alcohol notes. Vanilla and wood are present, as well.

Taste: Opens with strong bourbon and wood notes, and hints of vanilla. There is a mildly sweet undercurrent of caramel and alcohol. The bourbon flavors come across very nicely; toffee notes are present, as well. As the taste draws to a close, the alcohol, bourbon, and wood really shine. Finishes with a lingering note of oak, and a hint of toffee.

Mouth feel: Smooth and fairly full, just a hint of carbonation.

Drinkability/notes: Really excellent, simple, but very, very good. Oakspire manages to avoid the trap of excessive complexity in barrel-aged beers, thus each of its components is able to shine, and proves both elegant and excellent.

Presentation: Packaged in a custom twelve-ounce brown glass longneck bottle with a pry-off crown, served in a New Belgium Baloon glass.

Jan 01, 2020
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SB2017 from Iowa

3.72/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nice color, short light head. Not too strong a nose, with bright fruit and wisps of bourbon. Honestly pretty disappointed by the flavor here, though there's nothing wrong with it. It tastes good, but rather like a solid ale that has been spiked with bourbon. The telltale flavors of aging are essentially nonexistent here. I'm conflicted. Overall I like this beer and will happily drink the 6 pack, but it isn't quite what I expected.

Dec 27, 2019
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HoppingMadMonk from New Jersey

4.16/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Medium bodied with a slight creamy thick feel, with light carbonation .
Aroma is malt,earthy,bourbon, wood,caramel
Taste is malt with some brown sugar which worked great and kept it from being a malt bomb. Definitely bourbon is there,didnt have to look hard for it but it came off softened instead of over the top with accompanying alcohol burn
Thought this was a very complex ,flavorful beer with lots to offer in the way of aroma,taste,and complexity. The alcohol was well hidden and I would try this again

Dec 25, 2019
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imnodoctorbut from Texas

4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into tulip

A: hazy copper body and a thin pillow white head with very low retention that laces the glass as it settles into a thin foamy cap and slightly pronounced halo
S: BOURBON. step back, reposition, try again: booze, sweet vanilla toffee malts melting back down into glorious helpings of bourbon
T: did I mention bourbon? bc it's here, y'all. malts and sweet vanilla toffee caramel shows up eventually, as advertised, and there's even a bit of peach cobbler in there I swear you guys, but just like the ice cream next to said cobbler, it all melts away to nice even shot of bourbon. not too boozy, though. just the good stuff.
F: medium carbonation, heavy bodied. little lush up front, little syrupy midway, but with a bit of a dry finish left on the tongue.

Overall (personal opinion):
I know I said bourbon a whole lot, but that's not to say that this thing is boozy. that's one of the delights in this whole thing is it nails the bourbon without the heat usually backing up other endeavors. the result is a highly enjoyable shot of bourbon with your ale. all I need now is a lucky and the ritual will be complete.

Dec 18, 2019
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jjamadorphd from Florida

3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Think - Fat Tire with a half-shot of bourbon...

That's about as pithy a review as you can get, but since you need to have at least 150 characters, I'll add a few more things to write. For example - it looks great with the dark caramel coloration and thin foam, and smells great the hoppy Fat Tire smell blends well with the bourbon, and it even has a creamy feel to it. But taste-wise? I was a bit torn. On the one hand it was like drinking a Fat Tire, which I do enjoy. But on the other, that half-shot of bourbon was just weird tasting to me, it just didn't sit well. Anyway, overall I am good with this, it's a solid offering from a brewer I always will go to when I see something new or interesting.

Dec 16, 2019
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elNopalero from California

4.27/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From the bottle this pours a velvety caramel auburn, with a creamy head. The head retention is, frankly, incredible. Visually impressive, and worth noting.
The aroma is subdued, certainly opens as it warms. Light hints of toffee and tobacco, mellow and inviting. The bourbon comes through on the palate, in a gentle way, leaving a lingering finish.

Dec 01, 2019
Photo of VoodooBear
VoodooBear from Puerto Rico

4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle with an "enjoy by" date printed on the label. Served in a tulip glass.

Appearance: The two finger, off white head stays around for a little bit and leaves behind a lot of lacing that covers the entire glass. It's a beautiful, clear, pure and shiny amber-ish copper color.

Smell: It's a strong, sweet and earthy aroma of vanilla, caramel, malt, brown sugar, a hint of cinnamon and even some black cherry as well.

Taste: The flavor profile is exceptionally well balanced. There's a strong, malty backbone and sweetness with notes of toffee, brown sugar, pie crust and vanilla. Along with some darker flavors of charred oak, cocoa and and lightly roasted malt. 

Mouthfeel: It's soft, smooth, medium bodied and mildly creamy with medium low carbonation.

Overall: It's a very interesting beer with a balance taste, a complex aroma and great looks. It's not for everyone, but
those who appreciate beers like this one will be in for a treat.

Nov 22, 2019
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jmc65267 from Georgia

3.93/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pretty solid ale. A nice flavor with a good smell that is a solid drink to just enjoy and sip on. I selected it for my variety pack and it was a solid selection, I would definitely buy again.

Nov 22, 2019
Photo of Gordono
Gordono from Nevada

4.39/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

First impression, Boilermaker... and I don’t mean that in a negative way. This beer is great! Complex, alcohol forward, a little sour, a little bitter. And I get licorice? Warm finish, oak. Definitely buy again.

Nov 22, 2019
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puck1225 from Texas

3.81/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass. Dark amber color with a nice head and beautiful curtain lacing. Caramel smell and taste. Decent oak flavor with vanilla and a bit of smoke. Seem to lack just a bit. Overall, pretty good.

Nov 15, 2019
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endincolorado from Ohio

3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A welcome alternative to the ubiquitous Alltech four-packs that have been around for years, this offering from New Belgium and Knob Creek is a little better and boasts a prettier label. Unfortunately, the improvement is marginal. Flavors include vanilla, and some oakiness. Mouthfeel is a bit lacking.

Nov 04, 2019
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

neat that this exists, knob creek barrel char and some steeped oak, its subtle though when i drink the beer, and while i do enjoy it, im not sure this is a new fridge beer for me or anything, and im not sure that its a great showcase of this whiskey specifically, much as it tastes good its just sort of generic whiskey character to me. the beer is a neat light amber color, lighter than a lot of whiskey barrel stuff usually is, so i think it stands out even though its subtle, no darker grain or anything getting in the way. i get a lot of the vanilla, and even a rum sweetness to this, toffee, its quite sugary, i reckon they could have ramped up the barrel char element some, a little deep bitterness and earthy grit would be cool, but its almost too refined for that. brown sugar, middle caramel malts, a nonexistent fermentation profile, and very little from the hops as well. the newness of the oak is obvious to me, like its not barrel aged but done on the spirals, i think that comes through and its not a bad thing, it tastes good, and all the wood in such a pale beer is nice. good carbonation and a surprisingly light body for a wood and whiskey beer. i think its a little safe and a bit too sweet, but its pretty well done overall and its a good idea more than anything else. feels bigger than craft with these two, but i enjoyed it for what it is.

Oct 31, 2019
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Billolick from New York

4.22/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle, has "Enjoy by" dating but sadly the info is rubbed out.

Pours a nice shade of auburn, minor head, film, collar and just a few bits of lacing.

Malty nose with vanilla, honey, maple and wood.

Smooth, complex and quite tasty. Tasty malts, again vanilla, honey, maple, wood,light cedar smoke and some rum all coming to mind. Yum....go get some

Oct 31, 2019
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mikeg67 from New Jersey

4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle. Pours dark amber with tall, long lasting, fluffy beige head. Aroma is of caramel malt, grassy hops and ripe fruit. Body is medium and slightly crisp. Taste is of earthy hops, caramel malt, vanilla, wood, bourbon, spices and dark fruit. Finish is long and dry. Delicious brew.

Oct 28, 2019
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mmilyko from Nevada

3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On the one hand, good for New Belgium for getting outside their box and offering a barrel aged strong ale. On the other hand, why not go for it. Can't help but feel this could have been exceptional if my perceived conservative approach due to New Belgium's market and corporate influences were disregarded. Perhaps I'm biased, or blinded by my conception of corporate America, but strongly feel this is very good, but could have been even better.

Oct 25, 2019
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Wasatch from Colorado

4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. Bottle

Poured into a goblet a pretty nice translucent dark golden amber color, with some pretty nice carbonation, with a pretty nice thick/creamy one-finger light tan head, which also leaves a pretty nice medium size island and some nice sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, with some pretty nice, vanilla, bourbon, oak, toffee. The taste is pretty nice, malty, with a pretty nice touch of vanilla, bourbon, nice oakyness, with some toffee, nice sweetness. Medium body, ABV is hidden very nicely, with a nice little dry/bitter finish. Overall, a pretty nice brew.

Oct 21, 2019
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dd53grif from Michigan

3.93/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a honey good color with a small white head that lasts quite a while. Alcohol comes through in the aroma. Taste is sweet and boozy. Average mouth feel.

Oct 08, 2019
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cjgiant from District of Columbia

3.73/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

A deeper amber/copper color that acts as dark stained glass once the condensation fades from my glass. The head builds once my pour gets a little more aggressive, though a medium foamy ring looks like it would form at any pour strength. Lacing isn't prevalent, but random spots show up and fade away.

Nose has a lot of aspects from the barrel, though the come as a nicely restrained perfume - enough to entice me closer without leading me to wonder if it is an attempt to cover something up. There's a bit of an amber ale note underneath, but toffee, some bourbon smokiness, cherry syrup, and a bit of vanilla/coconut.

The beer itself seems as a somewhat of a blank canvas for the spirit influence. There's a little cherry and a bit of toasted grain cracker, but there isn't much residual sugar to boost the feel. The wood and bourbon come through, though there's more spice from the alcohol, the depth of the bourbon doesn't quite come through. The vanilla adds a little sweet-like note, but the beer stays fairly dry.

There's actually some nice flavors in this nuanced brew, but they seem to come mostly come from the additions. It's as if the base beer would be pretty bland without the bourbon spirals. This could be by design, but it leaves me wanting a little more in my overall impression.

Oct 07, 2019
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zoinks6022 from Colorado

3.33/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured into one of my pint glasses. Medium-to-dark amber in color, with a thin head that dissipated pretty quickly. Lots of malt and yeast on the nose, with a hint of the bourbon cask in there as well. Not sure if that's just my imagination or not, but it set up the expectation of a more full-bodied ale. The taste, however, was a little bit of a letdown. It seemed thin and a little dry. The same bourbon notes are there on the palate, with some lingering caramel sensation well after a mouthful goes down to my belly, but the taste seems incongruous with the aroma. It's a good ale, sure. But it seems like New Belgium is succumbing to Sam Adams Syndrome, where they sacrifice the risk of being bold for the reward of market share. It's good, don't get me wrong. But it could have been so much more.

Oct 06, 2019
Oakspire from New Belgium Brewing Company
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 277 ratings