Unobtanium Barrel-Aged Old Ale
Straight To Ale

Unobtanium Barrel-Aged Old AleUnobtanium Barrel-Aged Old Ale
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
English Old Ale
Ranked #14
Ranked #2,195
4.2 | pDev: 11.19%
Straight To Ale
Alabama, United States
Unobtanium Barrel-Aged Old AleUnobtanium Barrel-Aged Old Ale
Notes: Unobtanium is a barrel-aged English-style Old Ale that ages for six months in a bourbon barrel, soaking up all sorts of amazing whiskey character as well as hints of oak and vanilla. The name was taken from an old aerospace/engineering term for a specific material or object (often imaginary, impossible or highly improbable to obtain) needed to complete any given project.

And, before you ask, we did not take the name from the elusive metal in Avatar. James Cameron reportedly named the substance as an inside joke to his fellow techie/gear-heads. Our version is much tastier, though.
Reviews: 67 | Ratings: 263 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
4.06/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz can from late 2019/early 2020 (can't read date). Prairie Rastal Glass. Purchased in Birmingham AL.

Has a dark plummy rooty color with a head of 1/2 finger, receding to a fingernail and leaving slight lace up the sides.

Aroma of bourbon-and-caramel soaked plums, molasses, cinnamon, tobacco, black licorice, more alcohol-soaked dark fruits, and caramel/toffee. Amazing nose but not particularly loud and takes some effort to acquire.

Flavor starts with some piney bitterness and tapers off to some banana bread, dark fig, cinnamon, almond, plum flesh, toffee, grape sucker, and bourbon barrel. Some resins and hot alcohol cling on afterwards.

Feel is slick to start, then grips the tongue with fierceness and punishes it with resins and oils. Hot alcohol completes the picture.

Overall, this can wasn't nearly as amazing as it was at the brewery. Fresh on tap this beer was a straight killer. This can came in punching a little below the belt with muted flavors and disjointed complexity. I know this beer is better - just like Laika, I just don't understand what happened in the can - just like Laika.

 1,117 characters

Photo of Jwale73
3.84/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz. can served in a tulip. 10.1% abv. Pours a deep chestnut hue with a rocky, half inch, khaki-colored head embedded with pinpricks and ringlets. Head eventually disperses into a soapy swirl with swaths of weak lacing coating the bowl of the glass. Nose expresses notes of candied figs, butterscotch and traces of whiskey. Taste consistent with nose; however, the flavors don't really pop - it all comes off a bit muted. Mouthfeel is light in body with an assertive carbonation that leaves a residual burn at the back of the throat between quaffs and a trace of oiliness to the texture. Overall, the appearance and nose are on par with the style. Unfortunately, the mouthfeel comes off a little thin and the flavors don't come together.

 746 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
3.99/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pulled from the pits of Kentucky, the Straight to Ale team conjure up an old ale to lay in oaken whisky barrels to soak up all its bourbony glory.

Unobtanium pours with a rustic garnet hue, laced with a foggy haze. As a creamy short froth builds on the beer, its scent of suggested toasted sweetness brings a nutty, fruity and spicy medley to the nose. To taste, the flavor of caramel, brown sugar and light toffee come in a malty sweet upstart.

Malt richness marinates on the middle palate, swooning the senses with whisky spice. All the while, the fruit of marmalade, fig, date and apricot all seem booze soaked and of the dehydrated varieties. Peppercorn and whisky spice balance the sweetness and fruitiness while highlighting the oaken tannins, coconut, caramel and light vanilla of the barrels. Modestly bitter, a woodsy sensation brings a late palate of broad resins with a peppery grip of its own.

Full bodied but lightened by the oak spices and the whisky warmth, the beer begins to drink like a Belgian dubbel as the fruit and spice intensify deep into the session. A long linger of bourbon outlasts any hop, fruit or spice for an extended taste of Kentucky.

 1,171 characters

Photo of stevoj
3.84/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle at share. Really liked this, not the concensus. Dark, clear brown, kind of flat. Strong, leathery, boozy aroma. Taste is sweet and strong.. Molasses, plums, maple syrup. Boozy.

 185 characters

Photo of Treyliff
4.21/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

220z bottle poured into a snifter
Either 2013 or 2014 vintage

A- pours a deep amber-brown color with a one-finger foamy white head that reduces to a ring around the edge of the glass

S- big note of vanilla extract on the nose, as well as plenty of bourbon barrel that adds elements of caramel and toffee. Undertones of leather, tobacco, raisin bread and over-ripe banana

T- rich and malty with an almost-salty character up front. Notes of caramel, toffee, fruitcake and raisin. Mid-palate adds the barrel notes, with plenty of oaky bourbon that continues into the finish, along with notes of tobacco and vanilla. More caramel and barrel on the linger

M- medium body with moderate carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel and a slightly warming finish

O- nice and malty with a good balance of barrel, this has held up very nicely

 837 characters

Photo of colts9016
4.18/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The can has an interesting label and makes me wonder what has been put into this beer for such a devious character to broach the can. The beer is served in a snifter at 53 degrees. The pour was hard and produced a one finger head with dismal results, typical of this style. The head is frothy and creamy and light tan in color. The color of the beer's color is SRM 30 a dark rusty brown color near used motor oil look. The clarity of the beer is transparent. Carbonation bubble dance slowly up the sides of the glass.

The bourbon aroma in the beer is the first aroma I smell, vanilla, citrus, wood and spice emanated from glass. The additional aromas are bready, caramel, brown sugar, dark roasted malt, oak, earth, yeast and alcohol.

The flavors in the beer is bourbon, bready, vanilla, citrus, oak, spice, brown sugar, earthy, yeast, caramel, toasted malt, citrus, herbal, and stone fruit.

The mouthfeel of the beer is chewy and rich.

The body of the beer is full, the carbonation is low, and the finish is long.

The beer aroma is phenomenal, but the taste just is not what I smell. Nevertheless the beer is good, great flavor and follows the beer style. I really enjoy the bourbon barrel flavor in the beer, it really gave it something to talk about. Overall good beer wish the flavors was as strong as the nose.

 1,325 characters

Photo of cavedave
4.24/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thanks richj1970 for these two cans, a 2016 and a 2017.

Pour for both is typical cloudy brown with long lasting tan foam atop. 2017 is darker with bigger head.

The nose on the 2016 is much more barrel influenced and strong, with whiskey, vanilla, and spicy alcohol leading the way for a complex, full strength aroma that also features raisin bread, treacle, and dates.

Interesting that in the 2017 aroma I find the same flavors, but they are dialed back and blended. I say interesting because I am not sure I would have identified them from the blend so readily without the other glass to compare.

Oh, man, this 2016 is fucking delicious. It is a faithful and perfectly balanced version of the aroma, with just enough alcohol warmth to push this taste to 11. Clean, and possessing the strange characteristic of being brightly flavored while also tasting blended, each sip seems to present a little differently.

What a difference a year makes! In the 2017 barrel notes dominate the taste, which is nuts, since they are so much more prevalent in the aroma of the 2016! Strong alcohol presence too, and the fruit bready characteristic is a minor, less balanced, player than the older one. There is bitterness here, not strong, but def. evident in the end of sip, that isn't in the 2016.

The mouthfeel is identical in both 2016 and 2017, even though appearance, smell, and taste are not. Both are med. bodied, highly viscous, low carb, refreshing for style, with a clean, long lasting finsh.

Gee this is a really great and delicious experiment that I love to do, since there is no other way to find out what time does to beers that are big enough to possibly benefit from being laid down. My overall impression of both vintages is--- go get some, what are you waiting for! If you are a fan of Old Ale or BSDA you are gonna love this!

 1,837 characters

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.16/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a medium reddish orange with fizzy, half finger khaki head that dissipates quickly to a slight ring around the glass, no lacing. Aroma of light biscuit malt, plums, raisins, bourbon and light oaky vanilla; a bit boozy. Flavor is caramel and mild biscuit malt, bourbon, sweet fresh and dried plums, woody oak and oaky vanilla, brown sugar. Finish is semi-sweet with a nice lingering dark fruit and woodiness; lots more bourbon. Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. I don't recall a barrel aged old ale, although it seems like a likely candidate for barreling. The flavor is quite pleasant, resembling a Belgian quad profile; semi sweet and fruity. Even the yeast leans towards fruity Belgian style. It is somewhat too bad that the deep biscuit malt that makes an old ale so appealing is lost here. The flavors are great, but the biscuit is subsumed into the fruit component. Not quite what I expected, but very enjoyable and well done. I'm going to age one of these for a year and see how it mellows; it seems a good candidate.

 1,073 characters

Photo of Tsar_Riga
4.22/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This is a solid Old Ale, warm with lots of lush molasses and caramel, a boatload of banana, and a brisk close, delivering a full but not heavy feel. Not a favorite style, but very well done.

 191 characters

Photo of BeerNCue
4.22/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured a very deep mahogany with a 1" khaki head that lasted 1-2 minutes. Smells of vanilla, dark fruits and a little bourbon. Taste follows the smell, and it has a thick, smooth mouth feel. Alcohol is pretty well hidden for 11.5% ABV. If you like Old Ale give this one a shot!

 277 characters

Photo of Sabtos
3.76/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Muddy opaque copper-brown with a large light tan foam settling slowly to a finger-thick lumpy blanket leaving arches of chunky lace.

Smell is woody caramel with an almost Belgian banana-apple ester, giving off a near bananas fosters aroma with brown sugar, but more like banana bread. This is interrupted by some astringent hop and a brandy-esque heat. Red grape emerges as it warms.

Taste is banana bread for real, melding to caramel tones, then a bourbon heat, swallowing with a pruney dark fruit and figginess, finishing with woody vanilla.

Body is medium slick with a moderate crisp carbonation and a dry chewy finish.

 625 characters

Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.6/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - The beer poured a murky brown color with off white bubbles clinging to the sides of the glass.

Smell - The booze seems light in the nose with some sweet stickiness.

Taste - The bourbon is well balanced in the front. What follows are notes of coconut, amaretto, prunes, strawberry, and a mild woody profile. The bourbon created a slightly warm presence in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - The carbonation allowed for a warm sticky feel.

Overall - Being as good as the cognac version is a high standard. Still, this is outstanding.

 545 characters

Photo of Lone_Freighter
4.24/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The appearance has a dark brown close to black colored body with a slim half fingered white foamy head that dies within twenty seconds. There’s not much lacing but what there is tries to coat the glass but slides fairly quickly. The smell has some dark rich malts, toffee and coffee with a large amount of barrel aged bourbon-ness. Once it warms a bit I do start to get some woodiness. The taste is kinda sweet to woody almost a rich sort of maltiness that tries to add a bitterness but doesn’t really cut it. The aftertaste is a pretty rich woody/maltiness with a dry lingering woody finish. The palate sits about a medium to heavy with a fairly low carbonation. There’s a decent sweet wet finish, sessionability - well, ok, not bad, I could see having several pints in a session. Overall, this is a fabulous old ale well worthy of having again if I could ever get it.

 875 characters

Photo of Roguer
4.08/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a surprisingly dark body, very quad-like, with a reasonable head with OK retention. Dark brown brew with deep garnet highlights.

Aroma is also quad-like, featuring dark fruit, cherries, rich toffee, bubblegum, and of course (in this case) woody, sweet, potent bourbon. Deep and inviting aroma.

Flavor is more muted and restrained across the board. Tons of caramel malt, oak, and lighter tannins, complementing the bourbon, brown sugar, and darker fruit character. Little earthy bitterness, but what is present prevents the brew from becoming a hot sweet mess.

Hot brew, not hiding the 11.5% ABV. Smooth feel.

This is a very tasty brew all around. The marriage of an old ale to a bourbon barrel is pretty natural, and it comes off clean here.

 752 characters

Photo of SomethingClever
4/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz can ooured into a pint glass.

A: Very little to no head just a small film that leaves a ring. Body is a caramel deep brown with light peeking out at the bottom of the glass.

S: Bourbon, toffee, caramel, vanilla, oak, figs, dates, and raisins.

T: Starts off with tons of vanilla, toffee, oak, then finishes with a lot of bourbon soaked figs and dates and some harshness.

M: Surprisingly high carbonation, a little thin with a slick alcohol heat.

O: This is a pretty good old ale, but I don't think the bourbon has done it a lot of favors. It is a little harsh and the bourbon hides some of the delightful figs and dates. Its pretty solid though.

 655 characters

Photo of goingbrokeonbeer
4.23/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a brownish red with a one finger head. Smell is vanilla, bourbon, dark fruits. Taste is oak, vanilla, cherries, a little bourbon. This is definitely worth trying, I enjoyed it.

 182 characters

Photo of Dragginballs76
4.24/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - Pours deep brownish purple color with thin tan head string of lacing around the glass.

Aroma - Lots of dark fruit, plum fig, oak alcohol is noticeable

Taste - Great flavors, very similar to the aroma raisin and plum, the bourbon flavor is there but very balanced oak and cherries.

Feel - High end of medium but creamy full feel there is a slight burn from the alcohol.

Overall - Great beer, all of the flavors stand out nothing overpowers just a great barrel aged beer.

 487 characters

Photo of larryi86
4.19/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Big thanks to Richj1970 for this
22 oz bottle poured into a tulip

A- A dark brown with ruby red highlights and a two finger light tan head.

S- Oak, vanilla, bourbon, figs, caramel malts, some hints of earthy hops.

T- Oaky, figs, hints of cherries, caramel malts, hints of roasted malts and earthy hops, bourbon, hints of vanilla.

M- Smooth, medium body.

O- A tasty Old Ale, bourbon works well with it. Not as sweet as Illudium but just as good.

 450 characters

Photo of Immortale25
3.95/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured into a teku pint. No freshness date.

A- Pours a reddish medium brown color with a 1/2 inch tan head that retains well before becoming a thin ring around the edge of the glass and some scattered specs of surface foam. Not-so-resilient lacing leaves small clots behind.

S- Lots of dark fruit like fig and raisin with some caramel sweetness. There's almost a Belgian yeast quality to it as well. A bit of a booze fume.

T- Nice bourbon character at first with notes of vanilla, nuts and more caramel. Again, there's this spice and banana characteristic that hints at Belgian yeast but luckily it doesn't clash within the flavor profile. Woody aftertaste and the ABV is incredibly well hidden.

M- Slightly creamy with medium-low carbonation and a fullish body.

O- Pros: super smooth, has good oak and bourbon presence and the mouthfeel is spot on. Cons: Perplexing flavor profile that's a bit imbalanced in terms of sweetness-to-bourbon ratio which I'm pretty sure is perpetuated by the random spicy/yeasty quality. It's unique but not in all positive ways.

 1,072 characters

Photo of Georgiabeer
3.53/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Maybe its just me, but this old ale just seems old- not actually a representative of the style. I just get oxidized notes that quickly wear the palate out, and a small spike of sourness. I'd expect to see a gentle but rich stewed fruit notes, a nuttiness, even a little dustiness. I'm not sure this is what is intended, and if it is then it's not well thought out.

 364 characters

Photo of ccg
4.04/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Opened June, 2016. Latest batch, but aged a few months. No bottling date printed on the bottle. Oddly, Straight to Ale also does not print on the label that this beer is bourbon-barrel-aged.

Look: dark amber color, thick legs, decent head retention leaving a ring of bubbles. One of the better-looking old ales I've seen. 4.25

Smell: Tons of oak and vanilla and barrel character on the nose. Also a hint of orange marmalade. Smells sweet and boozy. 4.0

Taste: Sweet vanilla leads, followed by caramel and roasted malt and bourbon, and finished with charred oak. Fortunately not as cloyingly sweet as the smell suggested it would be. 4.0

Feel: Nice viscosity, smooth, slick, tongue-coating. Not much carbonation coming through, but it doesn't really need it. 4.25

Overall: A few months of age have tamed some of the sweetness. It's drinking pretty well right now. Still pretty sweet and bourbon-forward, but it's dangerously smooth. 4.0

 940 characters

Photo of T_Hass
3.61/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the hound in Auburn. Poured into a tulip. S surprising amount of head for an old Ale. Beautiful khaki color. Smell is sweet, reminds me of a Bruery beer. The taste... I wanted this to be good but it's too cloying for me with a slight bitter/black licorice flavor on the end. I could barely finish this. A little less sweet and this beer has got a lot of potential.

 381 characters

Photo of chinchill
4.23/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

About half of a shared bomber bottle.

Lovely red-brown body with a very good head.

Lightly sweet with lots caramel and toffee. This is a bit boozy, mainly in the aroma, and it has pronounced bourbon barrel effects in the flavor. Still, excellent whisky barrel effects and overall excellent aroma and flavor.

Overall: easily the best beer I’ve had from this brewer, and one of the best old ales I’ve ever had.

 416 characters

4.55/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was really taken by surprise by this beer. This brew so well represents all the things that are wonderful about bourbon. Bold and approachable with so much complexity and character. Almost looks like bourbon in the class with just a quarter inch of head. Sweet and creamy with the right amount of spice and dark fruit. Excellent overall.

 343 characters

Photo of Jadjunk
3.72/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

No label information. Unobtanium is brewed in the style of an English Old Ale. Available in 22 oz. bottles and on limited draft.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle to a snifter glass.

(Appearance) Pours a crisp, frothy tan-caramel head over a densely hazy burgundy body. Retention is below average and lacing is light and spotty. 3.25

(Smell) Raisin, fig and plum syrups, light candied sugar, some mild tanginess and undertones of delicate bourbon barrel aging, lightly toasted oak and trace vanilla with some calm but detectable booze. Potency is moderate. 3.75

(Taste) Many of the aforementioned fruit and candied sugar characters from the aroma, very profound, plus some malt complexity of caramel breads and a touch of light roast, finishing on a light fruity tanginess with some bourbon barrel character, a nip of sharp alcohol. Enjoyable, but a bit untamed and slightly gruff. 3.75

(Mouthfeel) Texture is smooth, modestly syrupy and slick, mildly grainy and medium dry. Carbonation is medium, generating a light frothiness and a lightly crisp finish. Body is moderate for the style, medium/heavy overall. Alcohol presence is medium+ and there are no off characters in this style. 3.75

(Overall) It's an enjoyable ale with a lot of yeast and fruit character and complexity, but add in the complex sugars, malt bill and bourbon barrel characters plus booze and it becomes difficult to tell the components you like in this beer from those you don't. The alcohol bill is quite discernible in this ale, and the results may vary. I found it a bit too busy and gruff to be truly enjoyable but might consider sampling a fresher batch in the future to be sure (I have as of yet to see bottling dates on these bottles, so I am not sure how old Straight To Ale's ales are). 3.75

Straight To Ale's
Unobtanium Old Ale

 1,820 characters

Unobtanium Barrel-Aged Old Ale from Straight To Ale
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 263 ratings