Folklore - The Tale Of Van Winkle | Stillwater Artisanal Ales

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Folklore - The Tale Of Van WinkleFolklore - The Tale Of Van Winkle

Brewed by:
Stillwater Artisanal Ales
Maryland, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.40%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Huhzubendah on 08-17-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 22 | Ratings: 67
Photo of GPHarris
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75


a - poured a 1/2 finger thick tan head into a snifter. the body was dark black with brown edges.
s - bourbon, chocolate with a hint of oak.
t - bourbon, chocolate with a hint of oak and a slightly smoky finish.
m - medium and coating.
o - i had high expectations for this and while it was good it didn't quite live up to them.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.08/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle pour for Best Damn Night Of The Barrels held at The Beer Company in San Diego, CA.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, cocoa, vanilla, coconut, bourbon, and wood. Taste is much the same with an alcohol kick on the finish. There is a mild amount of roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp but medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with a great smell and some tasty flavors.

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Photo of JasonHast
4.87/5  rDev +30.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

I love bourbon almost as much as I like beer... The smell alone made me want to smack someone. After snorting the aroma for say 45 seconds, I slammed that first gulp down and the taste was everything I could have wished for. Dark, rich and full bodied... just like my wife likes her men. This is a perfect beer to slip on while having a cigar. I need to find more!

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Photo of Thorpe429
2.94/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle split with Amyliz4 and yourefragile at Of Love & Regret last night. Served in stemware. Pours nearly ink-jet black with a few bubbles of a head that quickly recede. The nose carries loads of whiskey. It’s a nice whiskey, but there’s nothing else really below it. I wouldn’t be able to say whether the base was a black saison, imperial stout, or whatever else had I not already known. The same goes for the flavor. Body is a bit hot, but not beyond the 8.4%. Overall, this really just tastes like watered down whiskey with a bit of carbonation. I think this could have turned out much better if it were blended back quite a bit.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.58/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Chris (spycow). Served in a Cigar City snifter.

A - Tan foam settles to a wisp, partial cap, solid collar, and specks of lace. Very dark brown body.

S - Massive bourbon and oak presence, with some vanilla as well. There's a hint of char and anise in the background. Once you get back the aggressive barrel presence, there's a solid beer in here, but the oak is harsh and heavy-handed.

T - The taste is significantly better, with more vanilla than oak, light touches of chocolate and dark fruit, and only some moderate bourbon flavor. Improves as it warms, with a nice fudge flavor coming out. Drinks more like a stout than a Belgian, as I don't get any overt yeast flavors.

M - Thin-bodied, with moderate carbonation. Smooth texture, but a somewhat hot and boozy finish. Undersized to begin with or aged too long; not sure which.

D - The nose is rough and the body is thin, but the taste is pretty enjoyable. Hard to justify at the premium price, but not completely lacking in positive qualities. Dial back the bourbon and oak about 30% and this might be quite excellent.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.27/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Easily seduced by the mere mention of anything Pappy Van Winkle, I'm expecting greatness from the utilization of the strong base of toast, pepper, and fruit of Stillwater's base Folklore ale being all nestled into those charming bourbon barrels.

Like any in the Folklore series, the beer pours with a billowing pour that nearly topples the snifter with foam. Tan in color, the head erupts from the dark brown beer beneath and holds with firm withstanding retention and intricate lace on the glass. Dark and hazy, the beer's demeanor speaks Belgium, where the color says stout.

Bourbon and toast mingle in the nose in the most sultry and saturated scent. Hedging on roast character, the heavy char of bread, coffee, chestnut, and tart berries pull from the supple molasses malt notes and give the beer a dryish scent. Seared wood, campfire and peppercorn notes pronounce as the bourbony nose of caramel, coconut, vanilla, cherry, vinous red wine, dry oak, and char also rise in complement.

Flavors follow that of aromas. Hard candy sweetness of molasses, root beer, and chicory lay a foundation of creamy sweetness that paves the way for the fruit esters of grilled dark fruit- blackberry, cherry, plumb, and currant and then the peppery balance of fresh ground peppercorn, vinous wine-like tartness, and peat. Deliciously smooth already, the barrel complements of rich and sweet bourbon- with all its carmelly glory, vanilla, coconut, cherries, red grape, charred oak, and faint must. The beer aspects continue to fade as the bourbon attributes grow greater into a prolonged finish that's surprisingly drinkable.

Medium-full in body, the mind want a richer and bolder texture, but the Belgian dryness and efforvesence instead pulls the beer off the tongue and ushers in a drier notion much quicker than the palate has a chance for exploration. As the beer continues to lighten, the bourbon flavor resonates in finish with alcohol heat, spicy tannin, and light powdery mouthfeel.

As the gold standard of the Folklore experiments, this is Stillwater's crowning achievement. It's a masterfully crafted ale to start and the employment of the bourbon barrels are executed to perfection. Although the elegant bourbon complexities ring true, the taste didn't exalt the signatures of Pappy Van Winkle in the way that a few other beers have. Instead, the beer could have employed a lot of different bourbon barrels and would have gotten the same or similar flavor. It's that thumbprint in taste that makes Pappy so desirable, and that's simply lacking here.

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Photo of kevanb
3.69/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12.7 oz bottle poured into a Microbrasserie Le Naufrageur chalice.

This beer pours a deep black color, a bit thinner in texture than I'd expect, intensely opaque with no head, just a few loose bubbles that vanish instantly, no lacing. The aroma is very barrel heavy, bourbon, molasses, toffee, oak, dark stone fruits with some rich dark grain. I was skeptical of this beer after the pour which was somewhat disappointing but the aroma is really wonderful. The flavors are nice but the body is weak, as expected from the pour, and it really detracts from the experience. The barrel is much more muted in on the tongue, stone fruits are more dominant, cherry and plum, chocolate, molasses and some oak and sweet alcohol. The body is just so disappointingly thin, it still does coat the mouth well, which is one saving grace and does help the flavors come across better.

Verdict: This one was a miss for me, the weak body really hurt this beer. The flavors aren't potent enough on their own to come across without the support of the lively carbonation. The aroma is spectacular but the rest of this beer literally falls flat. There is a lot of potential here and I'd be very interested to try the other variants.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.52/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark black with a hint of brown, finger of frothy chocolate-khaki head. Fades fairly slowly.

S - Oak, vanilla, Bourbon, dark caramel and chocolate malts, dark fruit, coffee, Belgian yeast, a bit of spices, some booze.

T - Dark caramel and chocolate malts, dark fruits, vanilla, oak, Bourbon, Belgian yeast, spices, touch of black licorice, coffee, and a bit of booze.

M - Medium-full bodied moderate carbonation. Smooth with a warming and sweet finish.

D - Amazing balance. The Van Winkle barrels add some great depth and complexity to the beer.

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Photo of TotallyHosed
3.53/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A huge tan head forms on top of dark brown liquid that does not allow any light to pass. The head takes its time to recede into a splotchy veil. Some light lacing is left on the glass.

The nose has quite a bit going on. I can smell the funk of the base beer, toasted oak, dark chocolate and alcohol.

The flavor is slightly more complex than the nose. I get the same funk of the base beer, followed by alcohol, then finishes with dark chocolate, toasted wood and grain, and vanilla.

The feel is thin with some carbonation. The brew does coat the mouth with toasted grain flavor.

Overall this is a decent experiment. The barrel seems to overpower a bit. For the flavors that are found in this brew, the feel needs to be thicker. The toasted wood and grain flavors really rescue this beer. My biggest complaint is the price. Of the series, I highly recommend Stateside.

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Photo of smokeypeat
2.83/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Was glad to finally find a bottle of this as I generally like Stillwater beers, and I love PvW.

Pours a deep dark brown bordering on black. Initial dark coffee colored head disappears quickly. Seems to have low carbonation.

Smell is bourbon forward. Alcohol, dark roast, lot of oak woodiness, slight coconut, but none of it is "shining" through, it's just sort of there.

Taste is mediocre. Base beer is not strong enough for the bourbon. It really is just a watered down bourbon beer. The pappy character that I've found stands out in other beers aged in those barrels is not present here at all. More like an Old Grand Dad bourbon flavor than Pappy if that makes sense.

Mouthfeel is where I think this beer gets dragged down a lot. This beer is bordering on flat after it sits in the glass for awhile. Very thin and watery. I get that this is not a stout, but whatever the base beer is simply not up to the task of carrying the bourbon.

Overall one of my bigger disappointments this year. I really wanted to like this beer, and perhaps my expectations were too high. I factor $$ into reviews as well, and when a 12.7 oz bottle cost $15 it needs to deliver better than avg in my mind. Unfortunately this beer does not and I can't recommend it. Pick up other Stillwater to try as I don't think this beer is a good representation of what you typically get.

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Photo of TheBeerologist
2.83/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle poured into a CBS snifter

Pours a translucent black with a 1/2 finger khaki head

Smells strongly of bourbon - a bit of dark fruit and roastiness behind the booze, but the base is hard to detect

Taste as well is over the top bourbon for me. No base beer here - just a carbonated watery glass of bourbon.

Light to medium bodied and smooth, this is nicely carbonated.

This beer is all about the barrel - almost seems like it wasn't anywhere near empty when the beer was put it the barrel. This is one of my least favorite barrel aged beers I've had - mostly because the beer is almost nonexistent. Can't complain about the bourbon though!

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Photo of cosmicevan
3.87/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

tremendous thank you to bmur112 for helping me get a taste of this. enjoyed from my stillwater wine glass.

a - deep purple pour with a light coffee colored head. semi creamy head that hung out for a while and slowly dissolved to a thin skin. lacing is full and clings to the glass and links to the surface.

s - creamy rich milky chocolate. vanilla and soft wood. more chocolate and stouty than BSDA. really clean and creamy though.

t - interesting. kind of a dance of plum raisin and BSDA flavorings and rich gourmet creamy chocolate. some nuttiness. although tasty and easy to drink i find myself wishing that the base beer was a stout.

m - the mouth is just velvet. really super silky. pretty boozy as well.

o - overall, this beer kind of seems to be undergoing an identity crisis. i don't know if this beer in these barrels really works. i would think that this beer would do really nice in rum barrels instead. the barrel definitely imparts a chocolatey creaminess but on a BSDA? seems like an interesting idea to play with, but sadly the results aren't really worth chasing down. it is definitely a treat and an interesting taste, but the barrel was wasted on this beer.

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Photo of John_M
3.19/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

On tap at Max's the other day. One of only two sixtels, according to Casey at Max's.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with almost no head or lacing to speak of. The beer appears to be practically still, something I was not expecting. Don't get a lot on the nose initially (the beer was served VERY cold), but as it warmed, I picked up an attractive aroma of dark chocolate, light vanilla, light bourbon and a hint of underlying spice. As the beer warmed some more, I picked up a slightly nutty sherry aroma as well, that was attractive (there seemed to be something of an oxidized component to this beer). Alas, this was to be as good as things would get with this beer. Upon tasting this beer, my immediate reaction was WTF!!! The beer tasted flat, and not in a good way (it had all the hallmarks of a beer that had been left out sitting too long), with a thin mouthfeel and short finish. Given the abv., I was surprised by how light and simple the flavor profile was. While I got some chocolate, vanilla and bourbon, the flavors tended to fade very quickly, and it just seemed as if something was missing from this beer. On the bright side, the alcohol seemed pretty well integrated into the flavor profile.... no one would call this beer hot or heavy. Also, aside from something of an oxidized, old aged ale flavor to this beer as it warmed, I picked up a light sour component as well. This beer is just odd.

Like a lot of folks at Max's this past Sunday, this beer was the primary reason I came down at 10:00 in the morning. I knew it would be expensive (that goes with the territory with Stillwater beers, especially the barrel aged ones), but I was hoping the beer would be so special, it would be worth it ($10 for a 6 ounce pour at Max's). So to say I was a bit disappointed in this beer would be an understatement. Very, very glad I didn't purchase any bottles of this stuff (they were available at Max's for $20 for an 11.2 ounce bottle).

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Photo of stakem
3.35/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Big thanks to BA wishuwerebeer for sharing this with me. 375ml bottle into a tulip. A rough pour yields a black brew with skimpy head formation. A few bubbles are swirled out and that produces a few spots of lace on the glass. Around the edges some dark brown clarity is noted.

The nose of this beer is all about the barrel treatment. It smells of coconut and oak before turning to sulfur and cheese. A hint of coffee and roasty grain essence is mild mingled with a bourbon fortified scent of alcohol. If you removed the barrel aging, whats left in the glass is dull and forgettable without any distinct stylistic character.

The taste is somewhat bitter like the roasted char quality of the grain. A mild hint towards something coffee-like coupled with oak, bourbon, coconut and burnt caramel to vanilla. The aftertaste has a somewhat nutty flavor about it that is grainy before transitioning to just a dull flavoring of booze.

This is a medium bodied brew with a very low level of carbonation. A bit boozy and overall just lacking. It is one of the most basic, plain and lackluster brews I have had in a long time. Even with the special pvw treatment, this brew was boring. If I paid $15 for this small format bottle, I would be livid. This brew is a shining example of simply aging a beer in a pappy barrel does not make magic. Im surprised by the favorable reviews before me...

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Photo of yourefragile
2.58/5  rDev -31%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

I've held off on reviewing this until I had a few samples for reasons that will become obvious. Tried a bottle at Of Love and Regret, at my residence and on draft at Maxs.

Pours a still, opaque dark black with minimal tan head. Looks like a stout. Smells like bourbon and... bourbon. Tastes like a glass of bourbon on the rocks that has been sitting around for two hours. Literally, no trace of the base beer in any sample I've had of this, just straight up, watery bourbon. Held off reviewing after the first two bottle samples, but this on draft today was actually more disappointing than the bottles were. The JD version of Folklore (that was sold in 750s) was infinitely more interesting and enjoyable than this was. Get a grip everyone. Aging in PvW barrels does not automatically make something amazing.

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Photo of cpetrone84
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pour is black with creamy tan head. Nose is milky chocolate, notes wood and and some alcohol, fruity behind, pappy starts to come out as it warms. Taste is more wood and booze forward, dark malt, milk chocolate, faintly chalky. Lighter on the fruit but all in the back. Well integrated and rather different. Good stuff.

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Photo of oline73
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: Pours an almost opaque dark brown color with some red at the edges where the light hits the pour. There is a half finger of tan head that fades to a small layer on top of the pour.

Smell: There is a lot of bourbon here. Some dark fruit and a smokey note. I'm getting some pepper from the bourbon and some heat from the alcohol.

Taste: The bourbon definitely dominates this beer. Not a ton going on underneath. Peppery bourbon with some smoke and peat. There is some heat from the alcohol in the finish. There is also some dark fruit in the background.

Mouthfeel: The body is on the thin side with smooth carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: This reminded me of watered down bourbon. The bourbon was the star, and it is really good. I enjoyed this beer, but I wouldn't want to buy another given the price.

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Photo of ummswimmin
4.7/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

So, I'm out with my wife for our 5th anniversary dinner... and I peruse the menu and come across this beer. I know it is expensive, but I don't expect to be able to find this.

Anytime you take a well made stout and then age it in the barrel of one of the best bourbons of all time is a pretty safe bet to be an exemplary offering.

The restaurant served this beer in a room temperature tulip style glass. The pour was really weak, and so the head was non-existant. However, the smell reached me from a few feet away. Obviously I got the coffee, but the bourbon was luxurious. This beer smells amazing.

I sipped this beer over an hour and enjoyed every moment of it. It tastes better than it smells.

I wish I could find bottles to age. This is an amazing beer.

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Photo of larryi86
4.42/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12.7 oz bottle poured into a tulip

A- Black with a two finger tan head.

S- Bourbon, vanilla, oak, some cherry, dark fruits, touch of chocolate, very barrel forward and smells great.

T- Bourbon, oak, roasted malts, vanilla, slightly smokey, some dark fruits, some dark chocolate. Great complexity.

M- Smooth, medium body.

O- Overall this is better than the regular bourbon barrel aged Folklore, can really taste the bourbon in this one. This is really barrel forward, very smooth and very enjoyable. Would love to get another bottle. This is the first bottle of anything Folklore that I feel is better than the 6 month old bottle of 25 to One that I had.

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Photo of WillCarrera
3.83/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12.7 oz bottle, no bottled-on date, poured into a snifter.

A- Pours black with a finger of brown head, very good retention for a big stout, leaves spotty lacing.

S- Very barrel-forward, lots of boozy whiskey, some vanilla as well as chocolate and roasted malt.

T- Similar to the nose, very barrel-forward with lots of whiskey and wood. Some vanilla and chocolate on the back end along with a crispy fruity flavor. Not as boozy as the aroma would suggest. As it warms the chocolate and malt flavors really come out.

M- Medium body, maybe a bit thin, has a smooth feel with decent carbonation.

O- A solid BA stout but nothing outstanding, my first from Stillwater.

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Photo of Dreadnaught33
3.85/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a nice beer, thanks to Al at CT Ave wine and liquor in DC.

The beer pours a nice rich dark brown color with some spotty lacing and some lighter brown highlights.

The smell is dominated by a great rye whiskey, some earthy malt, roast, and a big vanilla character. Tons of oak. Lots of rye type malt again.

The taste has some more fruity nearly tartish notes, the barrel really dominated again. Lot of oak and vanilla, rye and some earth. Not bad, but not amazing, the sort of astringent fruit hurts this, it might be the start of an infection.

Feel is ok, nice medium feel and carbonation.

Overall ok, but not crazy good, it's just dominated by the barrel, good thing I love pappy.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.08/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Apparently, this is a different beer than the bourbon barrel Folklore, as the label specifically cites the Pappy Van Winkle barrels.

The beer is dark brown with a viscous beige head that leaves ample lacing on the wine glass. The aroma offers roast, oak, bourbon. The flavor brings a silky smooth bourbon character with mild roast and a touch of chocolate. A nice bready character is in there as well. Really easy drinking with an outstanding feel on the palate. Hard to go wrong with PVW barrels. A nice offering from Stillwater.

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Folklore - The Tale Of Van Winkle from Stillwater Artisanal Ales
3.74 out of 5 based on 67 ratings.
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