Bourbon Barrel Dark Ale (Winter Migration) 2010-2011 | Evolution Craft Brewing Company

very good
39 Reviews
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Bourbon Barrel Dark Ale (Winter Migration) 2010-2011Bourbon Barrel Dark Ale (Winter Migration) 2010-2011

Brewed by:
Evolution Craft Brewing Company
Maryland, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by lackenhauser on 01-30-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 39 | Ratings: 62
Photo of cdmillard
4.11/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle number 115 of 1400

A - Pours very dark, almost black with a thick dark head that quickly evaporates to nothing

S - Dark fruits and chocolate, with pronounced bourbon and alcohol

T - Great taste, with vanillas up front, quickly replaced by bourbon and alcohol. This is my first bourbon barrel Dark, and I love the flavors. Just enough bourbon to not overpower.

M - Light carbonation to almost nonexistent. Someone mentioned oily earlier, and I can see that.

O - Glad I tripped over this one and decided to give it a try. Wish they has 2 bottles!

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of Greywulfken
4.16/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Winter 2012 bottling
#584 of 1400

A: stout black but with translucent dark brown edges into tulip, large dark foam head settled quickly into nothingness, leaving no trace of lace behind

S: bourbon and vanilla, dark malt and musty dark fruit

T: charred wood, molasses, bourbon, and dusky dark fruits; vanilla and wilted plum, hints of semi-sweet cocoa, faint coffee; low bitterness

M: slick and oily, medium weight, slightly sticky in the corners of the mouth, mild carbonation

O: a very smooth drinking beer, the bourbon added nice class and character without being overpowering; had many stout-like qualities - nice blend of fruit and chocolate tones.

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Photo of Mertzy81
4.01/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle number 45

A - Completely black, with no head. Somewhat boring. Some bubbles form around the edge.

S - Alcohol and bourbon. Some vanilla, raisins and oak. Some chocolate as it warms, but the bourbon is plentiful. Whole lot going on here that I can't put into place.

T - Vanilla and oak forward. Boozy on the pallet, and a strong bite on the bottom of the tongue. Vanilla in the finish, with a nice burn, but not harsh. Can't get over the bourbon, simply awesome amount of flavor. Edit: 5/13/11 - Still lots of woody and barrel-y flavors. Alcohol has not gone down one bit in 3 months.

M - Lightly carbed, medium to heavy body. Almost oily, it stays in your mouth for a while, with a heavy finishing flavor. Edit: 5/13/11 - Alcohol bite is still very prevalent. Can't subdue this beast.

D - Very happy I got to try this beer. Definitely will benefit from some time, but very good in this form as well. A sipper for sure. Reasonably priced for a high quality brew at 12 a bottle.

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Photo of oline73
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a goblet.

The beer is almost black except for some red at the edges when the light hits the pour. There is a small layer of tan head. The smell is sweet and full of dark fruit and lots of vanilla. I'm also getting some roast/dark chocolate, caramel, and bourbon that burns just a little bit. The taste is sweet and just a bit hot. The strong vanilla notes show up here, and I'm really digging them. Also getting some caramel and dark fruit. The finish is slightly bitter and warm from the alcohol. This is a thick beer with smooth, tingly carbonation. The vanilla notes from the bourbon barrels were very nice. I'd be happy to have more of this one.

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Photo of FosterJM
4.2/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1527th Review on BA
Bottle to Goblet

2011 Vintage
Bottle 64/900

Thanks Mdaschaf for this one.

App- A good mix of crimson and browns in the glass. Only a small 1/2 finger fast receding brown head. No cling or lace.

Smell- A whole ton of candy aromas on this one. Sweet sugars, burnt caramel, vanilla and oak. Bourbon comes last. The booze is quite prevelant and prickly.

Taste- Well isnt this like a dessert in a glass!! A whole ton of vanilla and bourbon with some slicker malts. The whole depth of flavor is tasty and has a ton of prickliness behind it. Seemingly one sided with sweetnesss but damn tasty.

Mouth- A full on medium body with a medium dense carbonation. Lots of prickly residual flavors with good Vanilla and Bourbon.

Drink- Sometimes you need a bourbon barrel 750. Tonight was that night. Semi smooth and little rich and plenty of bourbon. Hit the spot. Thanks Matt.

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Photo of russwbeck
3.65/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Winter 2011 Bottle #251 of 900

A: The beer pours out of the bottle a beautiful black color with about a finger of brown head. Really the ideal pour for a year old Bourbon Barrel aged beer. The retention is ok, I wish it was a bit better, and the lacing is a bit lacking.

S: Very bourbon and boozy with underlying molasses, vanilla, roast, and maybe some chocolate. The aroma seems to be dominated by the barrel, and is missing a strong base beer to give it some character.

T: The taste picks up some slack, but is still missing the flavors of a strong base beer. I'm amazed at how boozy this remains after almost a full year. Sweet, vanilla, bourbon underneath this time and not on the forefront. I'm lacking the dark fruits, molasses, chocolate, or something underneath the barrel characteristics. I very much like how mellow the barrel is, but it just isn't enough to win me over.

MF: Medium body with a lower than average carbonation. The booze gets to you after a while, warms the body, and leaves a slight aftertaste.

O: I thought this was going to be outstanding, and it was only average. Very sweet and boozy. Tasty, but just not good enough to be considered great.

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Photo of stakem
3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle # 465/1150 split with friends and poured into several snifters. The brew appears black with a thin tan head thats quick to receed. Some brown clarity is seen around the edges. Webby legs of lace stick to the glass and a mild froth holds around the edges.

The smell is full of barrel presence mostly coconut and vanilla sweetness with an accenting hint of caramel and cocoa. Some booze is noticed as it warms along with a mild touch of grain.

The taste is boozy but not overdone for the strength. Flavors of cocoa and roast mostly through the body with a hint of something mildly musty. Coffee, alcohol and raw oak come out more as the brew warms up.

This is a medium to light bodied brew with a light level of carbonation. It displays a very nice barrel presence but the base beer is quite mild but with a boozy kick. Overall not bad and worth a try.

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Photo of Dreadnaught33
3.77/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared thanks to BigSexy410. 2010 vintage.

Pours a very dark brown to black color with a small tannish ring of head, not much lacing. The smell at first hits with a sweet nutty almost coconut or pistachio note, but then it evolves to much more of a typical bourbon heavy barrel aged dark sa that doesn't have a big roast component. Sweet and a little alcoholic in the smell.

The taste Is good, has some smoke added into the alcohol sweetness and heavy vanilla oak bourbon presence, seems like more of a hot boubon than a really fine bourbon, though I'm not complaining too much. Not a lot of malt from the base beer, it seems overly dominated by the barrel to me.

The feel is a little hotter than I thought it would be at 2 years of aging, decent feel maybe a little thinner than I like.

Overall not terrible but not great compared to the canon of barrel aged beers.

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Photo of siege06nd
3.6/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter...

A: Pours a dark black with a finger of light brown bubbly head. Spotty and thin lacing down the sides. Retention is good, with some creamy swirls dotting the top of the brew.

S: Wow, looots of bourbon. A little bit of vanilla and caramel and then some very faint chocolate and coconut. Also some nice dark fruit. Bourbon is pretty dominant, but as it warms, the other notes start to come out.

T: Like the nose, it's very bourbon heavy and slightly imbalanced. There's some nice chocolate, caramel, vanilla, and dark fruit to even things out slightly, but the bourbon is just a bit over the top. Good woody finish with some booze heat and some caramel.

M: Solidly carbed and full-bodied, but balance is decidedly lacking. Bourbon is just way too far out in front here. I can detect the other flavors in the background which makes me think that this could have been an excellent strong ale, but it's just too boozy at this point.

O: A booze bomb, truly drinks like bourbon with a little bit of porter mixed in. The heat is fairly well-tempered, but the bourbon qualities just overwhelm everything and produce a slightly tannic, somewhat flabby overall profile here. That being said, some excellent flavors are roaming around the background, they are just completely buried by whatever barrel was used to age this. This already has about 5 months on it and I think it needs at least another 9 months before it may calm down some. I will be taking the last two bottles I have of this and burying them somewhere in the back of my closet to see what becomes of them with some age. It's not a bad beer, just very one dimensional. Slightly disappointed by this special release from a brewery that has been "can't miss" for me for some time.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from Wine Source. Served in a stange. Bottle #693 of 900.

A - Late-rising tan foam settles to a thin collar, some, wisps, and no lace. Body is a very dark brown with some transparency at the edges.

S - Bourbon, oaky vanilla, molasses, raisins, dark fruits, a touch of chocolate.

T - Taste isn't quite as good, with a bit too much wet oak and bourbon harshness mid-palate. The finish is nice, with notes of vanilla, chocolate, and molasses lingering on the palate.

M - Pleasant medium carbonation, medium body that seems a tad thin for the ABV, some warming alcohol, tannic texture mid-palate but with some lingering stickiness.

D - Not a bad beer for the first 6oz, but it'd be a might struggle to consume an entire 750ml bottle. I'd recommend sharing this with a few friends who really dig bourbon. I do like that it's quite a bit different from your typical barrel-aged stout, as it's pretty much devoid or roast flavors.

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Photo of GregSVT
3.56/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

750ml capped bottle into a tulip - 2010 Vintage #130 of 1150

A: Pours very dark brown with ruby highlights and almost no head with no lacing. The little carbonation that shows up vanishes just as quickly.

S: The nose is full of vanilla, molasses, dark fruits, and chocolate. It's pretty heavy on the barrel qualities but I like it.

T: The taste is same as the nose with lots of vanilla, molasses, chocolate, and a touch of hops on the finish.

M: The feel is thin and flat. This would be great if it had carbonation. The finish should last much longer as well.

O: Given the carbonation issues I can't give this much of a high score. All the flavors and aromas are great. It seems the 2011 actually has bubbles so I may try to find that one.

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.29/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a snifter at the Cantwell's Tavern EVO beer dinner on 2/27/12. Not sure what bottle this was from, but it was definitely the 2011 version.

A: This one poued out a dark, dark brown. No head except for a ring around edges. What's there is light tan colored. Very faint on the carbonation from the looks of it. Definintely some alcohol feet.

S: The nose on this is delicious: vanilla, bourbon, and oak. Doesn't smell boozy at all.

T: I pulled some dark fruits right away: plum, raisin, prune, etc. Then lots of vanilla and oak and roast and caramel and toffee. The warming only helps the flavors come out even more. Delicious.

M: Full bodied and light on the carbonation, but it's just enough.

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Photo of DrinkSlurm
4.23/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 vintage.
Poured from tap into snifter. Pours a dark thick brown with a tan foamy head.
Smells of dried raisons, malty chocolate. Taste is spectacular. This is what I like in a strong ale. Oak, chocolatey, raison...slight malty backbone. What I like about this is the fact that its spectacular and still available. A lesser known brew that really shines.
This is a very good brew. Worth seeking out..I would even say essential.

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Photo of korguy123
4.59/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Supee dark brown, boderline black. Zero head, zero lacing. Alcohol clinging to the glass.

S- Massive bourbon aroma. Molasses, chocolate, brown sugar with copious amounts of wonderful vanilla. It smells like bourbon candy.

T- Huge bourbon taste with amazing vanilla and brown sugar. Coffee and chocolate. There is a slight booziness in the end but it really adds to the experience.

M- Almost full bodied, creamy with a hint of booze.

O- Mind boggling, so glad I got to try this and even happier I saved it as long as I did.

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Photo of dtivp
3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark black with brown highlights, no head or lacing.

Aroma of smoke, bourbon and hints of vanilla.

Taste of dark roasted, bourbon soaked malt, smoky oak and a trace of vanilla caramel sweetness.

Mouth Feel is full body, little or no carbonation, bitter with an bourbon warming.

Overall a nice sipping, strong dark ale, well balanced and enjoyable.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My buddy from DC snagged a bottle of this for me over the holidays, so we got to crack it open. It pours a dark brown or black and is completely opaque. The brown head is fairly large and solid looking. The retention and lacing are both nice.

The aroma has a ton of bourbon and good bit of wood to it. Lots of dark malts come through as well, with some dark fruit too.

Sweet bourbon notes come through immediately, followed by a bevy of barrel characteristics. Light char, spicy oak and a little bit of both vanilla and coconut are all noticeable. The barrel doesn't necessarily overwhelm the beer, but it does provide the dominant flavors. The yeast is surprisingly active, adding some dark fruit and some spice; it almost tastes like there is a Belgian yeast thrown in here, but I think it is just a really active ale yeast. The malt is smooth and chocolatey, and rounds things out nicely in the finish. There is a little bit of heat in the back end.

There is a little bit of warmth and just the right amount of carbonation. The body is medium to a touch below.

Evolution does some great things with barrels, and I want to try everything they do. Winter Migration is no exception, with a nice blending of barrel and beer flavors.

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Photo of yourefragile
3.57/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2011 version on tap at the Judge's Bench. Served in a snifter.

Pours a flat, cola brown with a thin tan head that quickly fades leaving little lacing behind. Bourbon, raisin and oak dominate the nose with considerable heat. Extreme bourbon flavor throughout but not quite as boozy or unbalanced as expected. Stronger malt (roast) presence than the nose and tame dark fruits blend with the vanilla and oak bourbon flavors. Medium body, with low carbonation and a pleasant warming aftertaste. I like this more than my score indicates, and while the beer isn't completely out of balance, all I end up remembering is the bourbon and it fails to match the depth of better bourbon stouts.

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Photo of John_M
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Max's last night. This was actually the 2011 Winter Migration version, but I can't see any reason to make a separate entry for it. Like the 2010 version, this was listed on the beer menu as a bourbon barrel aged dark ale.

The beer pours a fairly dark brown color with good head retention and lacing. The nose is just great in this beer, as I get noticeable bourbon, dark fruits (plum and and raisans mostly) and some light vanilla, with maybe a hint of chocolate. The flavor profile replicates the nose, but I was impressed by the balance in this beer. Nothing seemed to be out of preportion, and the bourbon flavor blended well with the dark fruits, vanilla and light chocolate. Mouthfeel was medium bodied, and the beer finishes well with no heat in the finish. Alcohol is very well integrated into the flavor profile, though you can tell it's up there a bit.

Just an excellent beer. Evolution really seems to have a knack when it comes to making bourbon barrel based beers, and this is no exception. Really wish this beer was more available over the winter months, but was told this was one of only 4 kegs sent to Baltimore from the brewery. So my guess is that this will be my only chance to try this excellent beer (I'm sure it will be long gone the next time I'm at Max's). That's a shame.

Note: Just sampled the 2012/2013 version of this beer, and have to say I really was not all that pleased. The beer smelled and tasted like a german dark beer, with lots of licorice and burnt toast, but with an underlying booziness from the bourbon as well. In combination, it just didn't work that well for me, especially on the palate (the beer was sweet and boozy, with the intermix of vanilla, licorice and bourbon just not working for me).

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Photo of homebrew311
3.32/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle 963/1105

A: pours flat with black appearance, brown highlight, 0 head

S: I get some buttery notes up front followed by boozy bourbon, not getting much roast or chocolate in the nose, notes of vanilla and wood come into play as well

T: vanilla and bourbon up front, the body is kind of thin without much malt backbone, somewhat sweet

MF: thin body, low carbonation, a little tingly on the palate

O: this brew has a nice flavor and decent balance, however it is very one note. Worth a try.

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Photo of Florida9
3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Very dark brown, approaching black, in color. Forms a smallish light tan head around the edges. No lacing. Appears flat.

S: Oak, wood, bourbon and some lighter vanilla notes.

T: Tastes of roasted malts blended with lots of bourbon. Vanilla and a light caramel sweetness. Some fusel spice on the finish.

M: Full bodied with lower carbonation levels. Mild bitterness. Mild warming from the alcohol on the finish.

O: A good beer. Rather well balanced and quite drinkable.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.81/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a flared pokal.

Big thanks to VDubb86 for sharing this bottle!

Bottle #963/1150. I missed the other seasons, but last Winter's a good enough place to start, right? This stuff pours a straight obsidian topped by a very short-lived bit of dirty tan foam. The nose comprises plenty o' bourbon, light oak, and light-ish roasted malts. The taste brings in more of the same, but with more roasted malts, some rich cocoa, some molasses, and a light twinge of coffee. Damn, this stuff is pretty tasty! The body is a solid medium, with a very light moderate carbonation and a silky smooth feel. Overall, a very nice brew, one that can easily stand next to many of the higher-rated barrel-aged stouts out there.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

brown with a large two inch plus head of foamy tan on top that only gradually decided to fade and nestled down into a layer of lace covering the top and the sides of the glass. The aroma was very interesting, it had a definite wine like character and the wood smell was defiantly a presence. Had a bit of a spiced note to it as well and also a bit of alcohol. The taste was very strong, with a lot of alcohol present in it. There was a very big presence of spice and oak barrel taste to it as well. A dry hop like finish tried to make itself known at the end, but never really got that far past the strong notes from the other flavors. Very nice medium to full body gave it a very sipper like quality

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Photo of Rhettroactive
4.19/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

From 750mL bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 9/20/11
*From notes

-- Thanks for sharing, SeƱor Siege! --

A: Rich velvety-brown to amber in color. A forceful pour yields zero head and zero lacing. Huh, that's odd.

S: It smells like a Barleywine-Stout hybrid. Really fantastic. Hints of bourbon and wood here add to what makes for a killer nose.

T: Raisinated, condensed fruit and toasty bourbon. It's at that point where the booze really starts honing in and finds balance with the body and origin of the beer. Dark cocoa and molasses round out the wonderfully complex flavor profile.

M: Really dissapointing. There's almost no carbonation to the brew, making for a signifigantly less pleasant drinking experience. As a result, the texture is a bit oily and off-putting.

O: Evolution has knocked another one out of the park with their 2010 Winter Migration. With the exception of the carbonation issue (which is not to be taken lightly), this is a massive win for one of my favorite up and comer's. I can't wait to see what they do next.

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Photo of chadmoe1
2.98/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had this at Finn's in Rehoboth, DE on 7/17/11 from bomber bottle poured into a pint glass; review did not show up here after entering it so recreating from notes.

A -- dark black, no head

S -- definite vanilla and bourbon, no hops or much else

T -- deep roasted malt then strong alcohol flavor; alcohol dominates and overpowers

M -- low CO2 but not unexpected

O -- not a horrible beer, but the alcohol overpowers everything and really transforms the flavors into a one dimensional taste. Aging it a bit longer may help with the alcohol flavors, and it would be interesting to see if other flavors would manifest.

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Photo of maximum12
4.39/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to beandip, who sent this Minnesota-bound in another good trade, this one centered around Evolution. This is a sleeper brewery in my book; have been really looking forward to tying into this one. Bottle 163 of 1150 split with my wife on the eve of a Lake of the Woods fishing trip. Walleye here we come!

But first, beer. Pour is dead black, close to pancake-flat. The smell, though, reaches out of the barely cracked bottle & seizes me by the pantaloons. Bourbon! Smells like victory! Tangled up in the barrel is a mash-up of sweetness: maple syrup & vanilla, maybe. If this is foreshadowing, I like it.

Migration not only tastes like liquid good, it's strangley different than your run-o-the-mill barrel-aged experience: lighter than a stout, not as harsh as a strong. Smooth, it moseys along the taste buds with thumbs hooked in its belt, smiling. Bonus points for originality. Oh, what's it taste like? The bourbon is laid on thick, but with style & grace. Underneath are the registry of odors: the sweetness, fine syrups, vanilla, resting on a bed of nice malt with hints of roast to it. Awesome. Low carbonation, but drinks like a champ.

Excellent barrel-aged beer that veers off the beaten path a bit. Would that a few others follow in its path. Worth having once, twice, or as often as possible.

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Bourbon Barrel Dark Ale (Winter Migration) 2010-2011 from Evolution Craft Brewing Company
3.92 out of 5 based on 62 ratings.
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