New Belgium Brewing Company

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American Strong Ale
Ranked #185
Ranked #18,848
3.85 | pDev: 9.87%
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.
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Reviews: 75 | Ratings: 228
Photo of cjgiant
3.73/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

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Photo of zoinks6022
3.33/5  rDev -13.5%
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.

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Photo of Duster1354
2.98/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

About as mild of an American Strong as I've had. Nice balance, no alcohol taste for being 9%. Nothing complain about but I'm just accustomed to a bolder flavor from this style.

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Photo of Suds
3.89/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

From a thick brown bottle, this brew is a rich mahogany colored brew. The head is thick, white and frothy. The aroma is a bit woody, with a dry malt undertone. Full body. Drinkable and worthwhile.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
3.48/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

$ 13.64 (Including tax and discount)/6-pack of 12 oz bottles ($ 0.189/oz) at Spec’s, DeZavala Road, SAT. Reviewed 9/26/19.
Stamped on bottom of label “02AUG20”. On shelf at store, stored and served at reefer temperature. Final temperature unknown but sipped over half an hour.
Appearance – 4.
First pour – Amber, clear.
Body – Darker amber, clear. When held to the light, slight effervescence is noted.
Head – Average (Maximum 3.5 cm, aggressive center pour), off-white, high density, average duration, diminishing to a five to seven mm crown and complete rocky cap.
Lacing – Excellent. Wide band of tiny to small bubbles
Aroma – 3.5 – When initially opened, some toffee aroma was noted. After a couple of minutes, that is gone.
Flavor – 3.5 – Begins slightly sweet with some toffee and some generic fruit (Apple-ish). No alcohol (9% ABV) flavor or aroma, no dimethylsulfide, no diacetyl, but gastric warming does occur.
Palate – 3.5 – Medium, almost syrupy, lively carbonation.
Final impression and summation – 3.25 – Approaches fizzy and sweet with nothing added by the desecrated Knob Creek barrels. The best thing that can be said is that this is not overpriced.

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Photo of Dope
4.18/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

August 2nd, 2020 date, I assume this is a "best by" date

A: Pours a clear amber with a good sized tan head. Excellent retention and beautiful walls of lacing left behind.

S: Smell is excellent. Tons of fresh bread, mainly. Caramel and toffee sweetness backing it up. Get some apple in there too, like a caramel apple. Interesting.

T: Plenty of caramel and toffee up front - quite sweet. Toasted bread and lots of it in the middle. Some slight fruitiness (again, I swear I get apples) turning into a lightly charry finish, still with that toffee backing.

M: Fairly heavy, with a soft and dry mouthfeel.

O: Very interesting beer. Not really sure how to categorize it. It basically tastes like bourbon, if bourbon were a beer.

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.62/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Enjoy by Aug 02 20
Opened and reviewed on 9/19/19

A deep amber and root beer color. A fine off white foam dissipates fast as most barrel aged beers do.

Cherry oak scented maltiness, in that it smells like cherries and wood. Vanilla cream and maple syrup also from the aroma picked up from the cask. Boozy and thick malt mostly, maybe some smoked wood as well.

The flavor follows suit, huge maltiness, lingering booze, sweet fruitiness, mostly cherries. Vanilla smoothness and old wood furniture combined. Tastes very much like an American Amber on cask.

Medium bodied at first, all malt texture, smooth and subtle but certainly full feeling to finish

Overall, a pretty basic Barrel Aged ale, I feel that this will only get more complex after proper aging for 12 months or so.

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Photo of jonnydas
4.64/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

World class! Lovely burnt orange color, medium hops zest, fairly malty--not a classic IPA therefore. Wonderful full mouth-feel. Bought one bottle at Trader Joe's...will go back and buy a six, and savor each of them. Wonderful!

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Photo of MercInc
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured at 50 Degrees,, into a stout goblet. Clear Reddish amber color, Light tan head that disappeared quickly. Sitting here, Sipping on it I didn't notice a pronounced "Boozy" aftertaste, or burn. A slight sweetness, with a little bitter finish. (Maybe that's from the 9% ABV) Would go nice with "Ploughman's Lunch" ( a chunk of Cheese, salami, coarse bread and a tomato) All the carbs needed to get back to work. Very popular in Scotland.

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Photo of jzeilinger
3.81/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Clear caramel copper color with soapy lacing. Aroma is caramel, vanilla, and bourbon. Taste follows the nose with toasted caramel vanilla, oak, and bourbon. Medium body with some booziness. Overall...decent but not memorable, glad to have tried this one.

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Photo of barnzy78
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, enjoy by 02 AUG 20. A slowly fading foamy beige head rests atop a crystal clear caramel colored ale; thick foam sticks to the glass. Sweet aroma hinting at caramel, toffee, grain, booze, vanilla, oak, bourbon, and char. Sweet and malty with plenty of booze: caramel, toffee, toasty grain, bread crust, charred oak, bourbon, vanilla, and earthy hops round out a nice meld of flavors. Full body, sticky and sweet, bitterness is very modest; finish is semi-dry. I am not sure why so many are complaining about this one. I think it's pretty good - not outstanding, but good. Would I spend money on this again? No. Was it worth what I spent on the 6 pack? Yes.

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Photo of maximum12
3.63/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Against my better judgment, I’m having a beer tonight. Doesn’t the liver need a break now & then? Well, it’s only twelve ounces of poison, right?

Appears to be an old-school IPA, with a close to even ratio of gold & orange mixed into the glass. The nose is mild toffee & light barrel. Quiet.

Oakspire tastes pretty good. It’s doing time as a Belgian Golden Ale, with only imaginary hints of the Belgian yeast. Toffee rising, with minor chords of vanilla, whiskey, oak, pear, & light bitterness on the finish. No alcohol – I’d have guess this was in the 5-6% ABV range, & it goes down easy.

Not a barn-burner but a good, solid beer that fills a niche in the beer universe that’s pretty empty – light, easy-drinking, barrel aged beers that taste like something. Good brew.

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Photo of dwilkins
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Color: Clear, medium reddish brown. Bourbon colored!
Aroma: Definite caramel aroma mixed with the malty aroma of a brew shop.
Taste: A little caramel upfront and bourbon barrel notes to finish. light. Not at all like a Bourbon barrel stout.
Feel: Sort of thin feeling for having a "darker" flavor.

It seems like this one is trying to straddle the fence between wider appeal and an excellent upper-end barley wine. I'd like to see an "Imperial Oakspire" that has a greater commitment (warmer undertones and a richer body) in the latter direction. This is the "Fat Tire" version of what it should be.

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Photo of Squire
3.69/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Attractive ruby red gold color with tan cap and good lacing.

Aroma of burnt toffee, cocoa, light coffee, dark chocolate, a wisp of oak and something like a Bourbon/cola highball.

Taste brings more roasted malt flavor but that could be barrel char. Simple flavors that reflect the scent yet are not as intense as in the scent. The parts don't really quite meld here but the overall effect is pleasant enough.

Medium to full texture with balancing carbonation.

An interesting approach that seems to be steered more by marketing than an attempt to create something unique.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
2.71/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle poured into New Belgium Snifter.

Toffee-garnet color, with a creamy finger of beige head receding to a ring.

Aroma is of wet wood, grass, slight caramel, and faint whiskey. Very faint overall.

Flavor brings a little sarsaparilla, some toffee, dirt, dirty hop bitterness, cabbage, and dirty oak. Faint whiskey burn on the back palate.

Feel is watery, then creamy, then thin. Hot liquor finish.

Overall, what I assumed was an ale aged in Bourbon Barrels turns out is just an ale brewed with oak spirals and char from a barrel. Of course, you have to tilt the bottle sideways and let the light hit it just right to be able to read it, and even then some squinting is required. I don't doubt that it's 9%, but it's by far the worst "barrel aged"/"barrel" beer I've ever had. This feels like a cheap, thieving jab to the wallet.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
3.94/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the 12 oz bottle in a snifter. This nice ale pours a very
nice ruby tinged brown color with a decent head of white foam
that settles to a thick ring, thin dusty layer, and shows decent lacing.
Nose of oak, caramel, and toffee with subtle vanilla and a wafting hint
of bourbon. Flavors surpass the nose by presentation with a brown
sugar dusted mild cherry note dunked in mellow bourbon with
mild oak and subtle vanilla. Nicely balanced toffee notes show with
warmth as does a touch more bourbon. Nice mouth feel; medium
body, smooth, lightly warming, light carbonation, and a medium
dry finish.

Overall, a very solid brew from a very good brewery.


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Photo of teromous
3.27/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

The label has small print on the lower right corner: "ENJOY BY: 13JUL20 92478 19071604IV 1137"

Appearance: The body of the beer is a dark tea brown color with a bit of a caramel appearance. It has good clarity. The head is short and short-lived with an off-white color.

Aroma: There isn't much of any aroma. There is a bit of what smells like cabbage and a bit of what smells like dust but it's hard to even pull out those aromas.

Taste: Up front there is a pleasant vanilla flavor with a hint of wood. It is very mellow tasting. The beer is so light tasting it seems almost absurd that it is "9% ALC/VOL" (as indicated by the label). There is a very very light herbal flavor mixed with an equally light caramel flavor. The whole thing drinks like a light tea with a hint of vanilla.

Mouthfeel: The body is light and fairly crisp. The alcohol presence is noticeably absent which is remarkable enough to note in such a light tasting beer. Drinkability is through the roof; very high.

Overall: As a whole the beer is an impressive feat and it does not feel like your typical barrel aged beer, Barleywine, Old Ale, or anything else. This beer is light and fairly crisp, to the point where it would be a nice light amber if it weren't for the high ABV (that you can't even taste). The downsides are that this beer has virtually no aroma and there isn't a lot of flavor from the grains or hops. There is a very nice vanilla presence, presumably because, according to the label, it is "AGED ON OAK SPIRALS & BOURBON BARREL CHAR." I can't say that it has enough character to be outstanding, but it is very good and I would both buy it again and recommend it.

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Photo of hman43
3.84/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Look: It pours amber with a tan head. Head retention is good.

Smell: It has aromas of dark cherry with dark caramel. There is a slight bourbon like note in the background.

Taste: There are a lot of malt flavors with bread and caramel being the most notable. It has moderate dark cherry flavors with some floral and spice. There are some supporting bourbon overtones in the background.

Feel: It has a medium heavy body with a slight syrup like feel.

Overall, I like the dark cherry with the malts as they work very well together and the alcohol is smooth.

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Photo of Victory_Sabre1973
3.71/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a reddish brown color. 1 finger off white head, with the retention being ok, but not too long. There's just a slight bit of lacing on the glass.
The nose is, well, not too strong, and I've had it sitting out of the fridge in the bottle for a while, so it should closer to room temp. I do just get a faint hint of the barrel.
Taste - Well, I get a bit of fruit in this beer, maybe cherries. Some vanilla.
Lighter bodied than I was expecting. There's a nice pop in my throat from the carbonation.
It's an ok beer, but nothing that knocks it out of the park. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing inspiring, either.

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Photo of jlindros
3.81/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours an offwhite fizzy slight creamy 1 finger head fades slowly, good lacing, very clear tan deep amber orange color

Nose a sweet candy reddish malt, caramel and toasted grainy malt, big sweet oak, vanilla, caramel, little spice and some sweet vanilla bourbon,

Taste some cherry like fruit, rich sweet bourbon juice, a bit overpowering, mild sweet malt with a little caramel, nutty, big vanilla and buttery oak as well, little spicy hop and herbal hop bitterness, flash of alcohol late, quite fruity as well, hops clash a bit, light sticky finish more bitterness and alcohol

Mouth is med bodied with good carb and a little warming alcohol

Overall mixed, it has some nice characters but a little clashing and overpowering for the oak, but still enjoyable

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Photo of arizcards
3.92/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Picked up a single from the Kings Beer & Wine cooler on 1-10-19 for $2.49. Best by 4-28-19; consumed on 4-23-19. Cold stored since purchase.

Beer poured brown with a solid white head with the intial pour.

Nose is malty with light hints of vanilla.

Taste is nicely balanced between the base beer and the barrel. Strong malt base combines nicely with the vanilla notes from the barrel. Sweetness balanced out nicely by hop additions.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and pretty smooth.

Overall a solid beer with a nice price considering the handling around the barrel aging.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
3.78/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a globe.

A: Red-orange color with good clarity. Beige head settles fairly quickly. Webby lacing.

S: A lot of sweet, corny bourbon and a very noticeably woody char. Toasty wood and vanillins bring a toffee and bourbon ball candy sort of aroma. Underlying malt seems to have a candy sweetness of its own, and the hops bring just a touch of dry grassy and earthy notes.

T: There is a hefty dose of wood char right up front, and it sticks around as a sort of baseline. Plenty of sweet (but not hot) bourbon character, toasty wood with pleasant vanillins and some toffee. Malt base has a fatter candied sort of flavor. Earthy hops balance just enough and don't make much noise. Bourbon and some mild alcohol bitterness on the finish.

M: Thick, round, and fat in feel. Ample carbonation provides a bit of lift.

O: Not bad. In approach it actually reminds me a lot of Alltech's Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, though perhaps a little heftier in its malt tones and with quite a bit more char. Truthfully, the char gets to be just a bit too noticeable at times. It doesn't derail the experience, but a little more subtlety may have helped. Overall it's a big sipper that seems to be designed mainly to showcase the bourbon and oak infusion, and it does that well enough.

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Photo of MattDecker
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The knob creek caught my eye, thought I'd give it a try. Smells and tastes very bourbon-y, but not a heavy drink by any means like I normally suspect of bourbon barrel beers. In fact, it's a surprisingly light drink.
Look: nice color, dark tan/copper
Smell: initial opening smell was good whiff of nice bourbon, but after is set for a while, it simply smell like a more complex ale.
Taste: bourbon is definitely there for me, a good amount of oaky-ness to this ale. More complex than an ale, but near as complex as usual bourbon barrels.
Feel: most interesting thing about this beer is how light it is considering that it's a bourbon barrel. Most bourbon barrels (which I love) feel like you really need to chew on them for awhile. You could drink this decently fast and it would not feel (mouth feel) overwhelming.
Overall: I like it. Somewhere in between an ale and a bourbon barrel beer - you'll understand when you drink it!

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Photo of omahawk
3.99/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a really nice Old Ale. Smooth malt base and a great oak backbone. Not overly cloying like some of this style can be. This isn’t incredible, but it is a well made barrel aged big beer. Would definitely drink it again.

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Photo of GeorgianBayPackr
3.79/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Malty, but warming alcohol cuts the sweetness and drier and lighter than I expected. Fades to a fruity Belgian-esque, "dubble-like" finish. The bourbon layer is there, but subtle. The beer is not too heavy & you could be lulled into drinking several

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Oakspire from New Belgium Brewing Company
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 228 ratings