Aztec - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
Breakside Brewery - NE Dekum

Aztec - Bourbon Barrel-AgedAztec - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
Rate It
Beer Geek Stats | Print Shelf Talker
Strong Ale - American
Ranked #55
Ranked #7,240
4.05 | pDev: 8.89%
Breakside Brewery - NE Dekum
Oregon, United States
Aztec - Bourbon Barrel-AgedAztec - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
Notes: Strong amber ale made with cacao/chocolate nibs and two types of chilies that was aged in freshly emptied bourbon barrels.
Reviews: 29 | Ratings: 152 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of cjgiant
cjgiant from District of Columbia

4.19/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Chestnut clear body with a lightly rusted white head. For the higher alcohol volume, the head is quite perisitent. There are a few streams of lace on the glass.

Nose has the sweetness of bothering the base ale and the barrel. A spicy spiked cola is the general impression: brown sugar, cherry cola, cinnamon bite, vanilla and char from the barrel aging,

Taste has a sneaky earthiness underlying the sweeter note - almost like an old ale with a hint of earthy spice. I’m not quite getting the chile heat as expected initially, but there’s a light bite to the light, barely sticky liquid. Bourbon and cherry cola jump from the nose to the taste with ease. The bite seems like it could be from the spirit, but it slowly builds into an ever so light lingering heat that I’ve not gotten from any other bourbon-barrel aged beer. What I am missing for most of the drink is the cacao nibs (it is possible they’re feeding the earthy aspect a little, but it might be too well integrated).

So, I actually don’t mind not really noticing the nibs. The barrel influence is at a good level, and the chiles add a light spice early and a little heat later. Sipping this beer was a fun experience.

Nov 25, 2018
Photo of metter98
metter98 from New York

4.02/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is dark amber in color. It poured with a quarter finger high off white head that left a little wiping on teh surface and a narrow collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Moderate to strong aromas of bourbon and associated vanilla are present in the nose.
T: The taste has flavors of bourbon from the barrel aging and strong notes of chili peppers.
M: It feels a bit more than medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The taste of this beer has a good balance between the flavors of bourbon and chili peppers. The alcohol is very well hidden.

Serving type: bottle

Oct 14, 2018
Photo of jakecattleco
jakecattleco from California

4.04/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

L: Pours vibrant mahogany with 1 finger of medium density white head that dissipates very quickly and left very little lacing.

S: Nose is mostly barrel attributes, charred oak, vanilla and bourbon. Its pleasant, but very little from the base beer is shining through.

T: More dynamic than the nose, definitely picking up some of the base beer especially the chilies. In addition to the chilies and barrel notes, there's some noticeable chocolate on this finish, which lingers on the palate a bit alongside the chilies.

F: Low-medium bodied with lower carbonation, slick on the tongue with plenty of burn from the chilies.

O: It's a nice beer, a buddy brought this to a chili cookoff/bottle share. I can definitely see this being a great option for such an event. Breakside does not disappoint with this one (much like everything else I've had from them), they are one of the best in PDX for sure.

Aug 12, 2018
Photo of Blackop555
Blackop555 from Michigan

4.04/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours Amber Brown. Medium, fluffy, off-white head that Fades fast.

Smells roasted malts, toasty, caramel, dark fruit, vanilla and a hint of pepper.

Taste Carmel, vanilla, dark fruit, earthy and bourbon. Followed by toasted malt and light heat from the peppers. Finish is semi-dry with a bourbon linger. Medium body and fizzy medium carbonation.

Jul 10, 2018
Photo of mactrail
mactrail from Washington

3.88/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Brewed with ancho and habanero chilis, this is fairly warm, heat-wise. But it doesn't interfere with the enjoyment of the chili flavor and the pleasing mellow Bourbon taste. Malty with a little sharp finish and a boozy nose.

Massive roasted malt and caramel. Some lingering but flavorful chili heat. This year's version is 10% ABV. From the 22 oz bottle purchased at Elizabeth Station in Bellingham.

Jun 13, 2018
Photo of biboergosum
biboergosum from Canada (AB)

4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle (@10% ABV) - I guess chocolate and chili peppers equals Mexican references up the yin-yang.

This beer pours a clear, dark magenta amber colour, with two hefty fingers of puffy, loosely foamy, and fairly bubbly tan had, which leaves some decent dissolving ice floe lace around the glass as it evenly subsides.

It smells of bready and doughy caramel malt, bittersweet cocoa powder, a faint spicy pepper heat, equally tame Kentucky barrel staves, some indistinct black stone fruitiness, and very, very tame earthy, musty, and floral green hops. The taste is bready and biscuity caramel malt, a wisp of damp ashiness, some muddled and bruised pome fruity notes, a very vanilla-forward woodiness, fading chocolate wafers, an ethereal chili spiciness, and some more very hard to detect leafy, earthy, and floral hop bitters.

The carbonation is fairly understated in its workaday frothiness, the body a solid medium weight, and generally smooth, as the spice isn't strong enough to make a dent at this particular point in the game. It finishes off-dry, the caramel, cocoa, and sweet barrel essences continuing the lingering party.

Overall - this is a pleasant enough strong ale, one whose barrel treatment and elevated ABV never really cause any concern for that ol' palate of mine. Definitely worth checking out, if solely for the just mentioned conclusions, or any ones that you might come to yourselves, as such.

Jun 03, 2018
Photo of JohnnyHopps
JohnnyHopps from Indiana

3.92/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance - The beer poured a murky brown color with an off white head.

Smell - Once the volcanic carbonation settled down, I noted dry red grapes and a hint of spice.

Taste - The beer was like a dry red wine spiced with peppers. The heat comes toward the back and gave a slight but not unbearable burn.

Mouthfeel - The carbonation was a problem. Every pour was a challenge to keep in the glass, occassionally errupting to the floor. When it settled down, the beer was fairly smooth.

Overall - I had an older bottle, so I would not mind sampling a new one for comparison. I would not actively seek a newer bottle though.

May 27, 2018
Photo of connecticutpoet
connecticutpoet from Connecticut

4.1/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – Two and a half finger head on a clear brown body.

Aroma – Sweet dark malt, milk chocolate, and a little bourbon.

Taste – Slightly bitter oak tannins, chocolate, a little bourbon, hints of chilis on the soft palate at the end.

Mouthfeel – Full and well rounded body, not heavy.

Overall – A good beer that hides the ABV in the flavor, but it packs a punch.

Mar 24, 2018
Photo of GreesyFizeek
GreesyFizeek from New York

4.45/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one pours a mostly clear golden brown, with a small head, and not much lacing.

This smells like dark chocolate, toasted bread, caramel, spicy pepper, chocolate, oak, and very light bourbon.

I usually see this combo of flavors (chocolate/chili) in stouts, so it's nice to see it in another style. The strong ale base is clearly well made, with toasty and slightly spicy bready malt, caramel, and toffee, with a big creamy and bittersweet character. The pepper character is very subtle- it adds a slightly spicy kick to the finish that melds well with the oak character. There is just a hint of bourbon- this is certainly not a barrel bomb. It becomes *slightly* boozy as it warms, but it's nothing too crazy.

This is medium bodied, and definitely not thick. This does make it more drinkable, however.

This is a really unique beer, and it's pulled off nearly perfectly.

Jan 27, 2018
Photo of bret717
bret717 from Pennsylvania

4.42/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Look- Deep mahogany brown, 1/2 finger head that dissipates to a thin ring around the edge of the glass

Aroma- very complex with raisin, leather, tobacco and bourbon, all very distinct but in equal measures with no one aspect dominating

Taste- Follows the nose, but with an underlying sweet chocolate taste and a quick blast of pepper heat upon swallowing. The sweetness and heat linger a bit. Again, very complex and balanced nicely.

Feel- medium bodied with a long sweet finish

Overall- very nice drinking experience. Smells and tastes incredible. A lot of nicely complimentary flavors and aromas going on, with no single one stealing the show.

Sep 25, 2017
Photo of Lone_Freighter
Lone_Freighter from Vermont

4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter, the appearance was a ruddy dark orange to light brown color with a little off white foamy head that fell off at a moderate pace. Some sliding lace. The aroma had some milk chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, coconut, sweet wood and a dry little spicy chili pepper balancing it all out nicely. The flavor was sweet with the chocolate, coconut and vanilla up front allowing the chili heat to come in slightly. Aftertaste was almost non-existent but seemed to have just a touch of the milk chocolate. Finish was the same. The palate was medium bodied with some of the "heat" to coincide with the meddling of the feel (the bourbon to the spicy "heat"). Carbonation felt fine. ABV felt fine. Overall, pretty nice strong ale, American or English, hell if I know, just damn good.

Jun 22, 2017
Photo of snaotheus
snaotheus from Washington

3.41/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle served in a tulip. Given to me by @mr-jj. I don't see a date on it.

Pours a medium brown (I was expecting a stout for some reason). Not much head, not much carbonation. Smell is bourbon and booze, maybe a little vanilla and rose. It mostly smells like watered down bourbon.

Taste is better than the smell -- still some of the watered down bourbon character, which isn't awesome, but definitely some nice vanilla and sweetness, not much pepper flavor but maybe a touch of the pepper spice.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly bubbly, considering how it looks. Overall, it's interesting and not bad, but not a beer I'll seek out again.

May 27, 2017
Photo of Rogerlb
Rogerlb from California

3.71/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown, but it's still translucent. Carb and a certain amount of hanging sediment is visible. A very thin collar of a head. Lights shines through this nicely.

Aroma is wood, vines, the skin of a zucchini. Yeah, I know, it's probably peppers but I get a more gourd vibe. Slight malt, as well.

Taste is sweet wood, watered down bourbon. Oak barrel is there, and vanilla, and the malt you'd expect of a strong ale, but not very roasty. Buttery toast. (Fake butter.) Slick and a little sticky. Boozy. The chocolate is sweeter than normal (not bitter/baker's) but a bit faint. I'm not getting the chili advertised either, except a wisp at the finish. I think the chilis (habanero and serrano according to the paperwork) are cancelling out the bourbon?

The middle of the mouthful is a bit of a mess. All frosting, no cake. The bourbon has a cinnamon stick in it. The 12% is rather forward but there's no "heat" from the booze. No burn. This seems thin, and therefore the bourbon wood is my takeaway.

Interesting and different. A woody cream soda that dad spiked with bourbon. Creamier than I expected, hardly any chili taste (for me) to speak of.

Mar 04, 2017
Photo of ricke49
ricke49 from Oregon

4.36/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

One of the best incorporation of chilies I've had the pleasure to experience. Chilies / chocolate both meld well with the bourbon aged aspects to produce an insanely drinkable brew. This will be my go-to big beer this winter, as Costco is currently offering this at an attractive price. Pours with a rich 2 finger head, with the visual properties of a strong (thick) ale. Taste is the same at first as it is when swallowed (perfect chili / chocolate / alcohol warmth balance).

Jan 07, 2017
Photo of kemoarps
kemoarps from Washington

4.02/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Body is a deep russet mahogany capped with an off brown head that settles in without giving up entirely.

Nose offers dark fruits at the forefront with creamy vanilla and oak. Smoothe and enticing.

Sweet initially with elements of oak and vanilla from the barrel. Chocolate is almost more of a finishing/after type taste that evolves out of the vanilla sweet lead in. Bourbon is not as overwhelming as I feared, but it is definitely sweet for an amber and driven by the barrel.
Creamy for the most part but the finish tends towards what I always associate with sour mash. Solid and enjoyable, though the chile and the alcohol kind of blend and get lost in one another.

Dec 20, 2016
Photo of breadwinner
breadwinner from California

4.01/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Interesting brew, sort of an amped up amber ale thrown into bourbon barrels w/ various chile peppers and some chocolate for good measure. Some serious sediment to work around on the pour, literally ended up with a piece of charred wood from the barrel in my glass. Nice smell, oaky/bourbony/vanilla, maybe something almost fruity from the malt+chocolate combo, light traces of chile peppers. Pleasant and maybe even a touch vinuous. Palate is sweet, some booze heat, and chile warmth on the swallow. It really ain't bad and is a novel way of doing the spiced/adjunct barrel aged beer thing. Cheers.

Apr 04, 2016
Photo of Dicers
Dicers from Colorado

3.51/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

I really wanted to like this beer and the appearance and nose led me to believe I would. The taste is just all bourbon with the smallest hint of chili and the mouthfeel is a mess

May 31, 2015
Photo of draheim
draheim from Washington

3.74/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz into a tulip. Pours a dirty coppery amber w/ a 1-finger head.

Aroma is fruity and malty. Dried dates and apricots, warm bourbon, a hint of spice.

Taste is likewise fruity, sweet, and malty. Dried fruit, caramel, light brown sugar, boozy heat. Chile peppers give it a subtly spicy twist.

Mouthfeel is thick and chewy.

Overall a big, strong, sweet, malty beer.

Jan 25, 2015
Photo of Davepoolesque
Davepoolesque from Massachusetts

3.86/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours out reddish brown in color. Lots of vanilla, sour mash whiskey. Chocolate coming though, but almost like a white chocolate. A very nice, subtle building chili heat. Pretty good.

Jan 05, 2015
Photo of StonedTrippin
StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.39/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

this is enormously high quality and rather unique, instead of using a darkly roasted malt base for a beer that features cocoa and chili, it starts as a lighter, copper colored brew that exchanges out the bitterness of such a roast for the sweetness of a caramel malt base. very cool, it allows the additives to be dialed in just right, and tasted really cleanly. the chilies are bold in flavor but mild in heat, even minimal in heat, and the carry on the sweet grain for a long time. the cocoa is raw, and adds a welcomed dry earthiness to this. the boubon barrel has almost taken over though, its so intensely flavored like the whiskey that other flavors struggle to stand out a bit. i cant imagine this beer without it though, it ties it together super well, shows nuances of vanilla and sweet corn, and even hides its booze rather well for 12% abv. i havent had enough barrel stuff from these guys, so this was a heck of a start, a truly individual beer, definitely one to share. amazing overall.

Dec 30, 2014
Photo of VashonGuy
VashonGuy from Washington

4.3/5  rDev +6.2%

There's lots of cocoa in this ale, smooth tasting, not too sweet. The chiles kick in, but the heat level isn't high, at least not to this chile aficionado. The bourbon aroma and flavor don't lead the parade, but they're there. As BBA beers go, this one is just a little on the lighter side, which is fine with me. Nice alternative to the barrel aged stouts.

Nov 26, 2014
Photo of spoony
spoony from Colorado

4.07/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

From a 650 ml bottle (dated June 4, 2014) to a snifter.

A-A normal pour produces about a half-finger of grayish-tan head. The beer is the color of dark caramel and mostly clear. There is very little carbonation visible and no lacing.

S-The aroma is heavy on the chiles. It is not just spicy, but you can really smell the chile flavor/flesh. Nice. There is also a good dose of cocoa, and some alcohol warmth, brown sugar, and vanilla. The smells are pretty distinct.

T-The beer tastes almost exactly like it smells. Heavy chile flavor and spice lead the way with cocoa well represented as well. The other flavors are less obvious but they form a nice background for the chiles to do their thing.

M-The beer is medium to full in body with a lower level of carbonation.

O-This is one of those beers that delivers exactly what is says on the bottle, i.e., chiles and cocoa. Those who like their chiles to be more subdued won't like this one, but if you want a spicy big beer that isn't a stout, this is a good choice. A nice beer for winter.

Nov 23, 2014
Photo of LiquidAmber
LiquidAmber from Washington

4.23/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a medium to dark coppery orange amber with a fine half finger light khaki head with great retention and lots of lacing. Great aroma of bourbon, vanilla, toffee and hints of chile. Flavor follows, dominated by bourbon, caramel and vanilla,with the chile spiciness building and leaving a pleasant light chile bite in the finish. On the sweet side and quite warming. Medium bodied with mild creaminess. An excellently balanced amount of chile for the rich body, with the other flavors nicely masking the capiscum at first then slowly revealing it. Lots of barrel character, with good bourbon and oaky vanilla. I'm a fan of bourbon barrel ales and chile that is well supported by other flavors and this bring it all home. Very tasty. ABV dangerously covered, needs pacing.

Jun 16, 2014
Photo of HuskyinPDX
HuskyinPDX from Washington

4.07/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle opened on 10.5.13

A - Pours a dark amber with a fluffy light tan head with good retention.

S - Malty, sweet and spicy.

T - Booze, fruity, sweet malt, a touch of chili heat.

D - Good carbonation and a medium body.

O - Boozy fruit and a nice chili finish.

Oct 23, 2013
Photo of Alieniloquium
Alieniloquium from Florida

3.84/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Deep red amber, small white head. Thin collar.

Smell - Bourbon and vanilla. Slightest bit of oak. Cinnamon, spicy pepper.

Taste - Spices all over. Cinnamon. Caramel. Bourbon. Vanilla and oak. Finishes with a lot of bourbon.

Mouthfeel - Dry and a little boozy. Good barrel character.

Overall - Even after 15 beers, this tastes great. Flavorful.

Sep 10, 2013
Aztec - Bourbon Barrel-Aged from Breakside Brewery - NE Dekum
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 152 ratings