Old Knucklehead Imperial Red (Bourbon Barrel Aged) | Court Avenue Brewing Company

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Brewed by:
Court Avenue Brewing Company
Iowa, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): not listed

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BuckeyeNation on 05-16-2007

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 2 | Ratings: 2
Photo of errantnight
1.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1


Now, I like me some bourbon, and I like me some imperial reds... what I don't like is a beer so overwhelmed by whiskey that it's... well it's this.

Started out promising. A radiant amber/ruby hue, viscous with minimal carbonation/head, but decent lacing and just enough retention. I was stoked.

And then my nose neared the glass. It smelled like a glass of whiskey. But waaay over-the-top. Whatever subtlety and smokiness there might be in a glass of woodford reserve is completely lost by the overwhelming phenols. Unpleasant and harsh, almost burning.

Didn't taste as bad as it smelled, but getting the nose near the glass made things uncomfortable. There seemed to be a nice, rich malt base, and the back end of the palate had just enough bitterness to help cleanse the palate... but after about a quarter glass (I had mistakenly poured this into a pint glass... a snifter would be more appropriate, although I'm not sure i could stomach it) i started to get the whiskey chest warmth... which is nice when drinking whiskey, disconcerting when working on a carbonated beverage.

Surprisingly this actually left me with a hankering for the rich, subtle, and robust workings of a nice glass of bourbon (or scotch), but the beer kept coming up thin and harsh.

Somebody seriously overdid the bourbon on this... even the oak was largely lost. To my palate, the bourbon and oak should be complimentary flavors... not predominate.

Unfortunately much of this ended up being drain pour. Easily the most offensive beer I've tried to stomach in quite some time.

I'd love to try other stuff from the brewery, and I'll be returning on my future visits to Des Moines, but I hope more offerings are closer in nature to their IPA than to this.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Darkest tawny that was almost red enough to be called russet. Thanks to a gentle pour, the beer was capped by the slimmest beige cap imaginable. By the time I found a bar table and sat down, the foam was gone and the glass was clean. I thought about suggesting a name change to Old Nakedhead.

The nose was on the weak side for an 'Imperial' red ale that had seen the inside of a bourbon barrel. Cherries were appreciated, as was alcohol. Notice that I didn't say bourbon. Warming opened things up just enough for an average score to be granted.

Old Knucklehead reminded me of a baby barleywine. That is, a barleywine with a lower than normal ABV and a thinner than normal mouthfeel. That might sound like an unfair comparison in a state with a 6.25% ABV cap, but the truth is that (in my opinion at least) the beer isn't a huge success no matter what context one decides to drink it in.

The 'cut to the chase' description of the flavor profile is cherries macerated in a mixture of bourbon and grain alcohol. For some reason, the very best qualities of the Labrot & Graham Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels weren't transferred to the beer. I expected caramelized sugar, vanilla and oak. I got a little too much cherry cough syrup.

To be fair, the flavor profile also included bitter orange and dark caramel. Speaking of bitter, Old Knucklehead was dripping with alpha acids. I would have liked it a lot more if it had delivered less bitterness and more hop flavor. Thanks to the unvarnished alcohol, the finish was immensely dry.

I wasn't impressed with the mouthfeel. Again, a beer like this should have been lightly chewy at minimum. It wasn't bad for a pale ale, but then this wasn't a pale ale. I didn't mind the slightly too excessive carbonation since the bubbles were so fine.

Old Knucklehead Imperial Red (Bourbon Barrel Aged) is the second beer in the Court Avenue Craft Beer Week series. I'm told that it will be a rotating release in the future. My hope is that it receives a few tweaks before it rotates around again.

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Old Knucklehead Imperial Red (Bourbon Barrel Aged) from Court Avenue Brewing Company
2.49 out of 5 based on 2 ratings.
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