Double Barrel Scotch Ale
Phillips Brewing Company

Double Barrel Scotch AleDouble Barrel Scotch Ale
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy
Ranked #81
Ranked #12,691
4.02 | pDev: 10.95%
Phillips Brewing Company
British Columbia, Canada
Very Good
Double Barrel Scotch AleDouble Barrel Scotch Ale
Notes: We’ll admit it, we get bored fairly easily. We wanted to make a new beer and found a more expensive way to do it. We all got pretty jazzed about putting Scotch ale into some barrels, but the question remained, what kind? The overwhelming choice was bourbon, but red wine was also on the table. Why not both? The result is a beer that you notice when you drink it – your senses get smacked with great bourbon aroma which is complimented by a slightly smoky peat flavour and rich vanilla tones. Keep your eye on the prize and pull the trigger.
View: Beers | Events
Reviews: 23 | Ratings: 33
Photo of Cookeeman
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Phillips has brewed two different versions of this beer, so I'll break my review in two:

1) The 2010 & 2011 versions of this brew (pictured at the top) were heaven for me. I broke it down into 3 main flavors, the first being the scotch ale flavor. It was a deep malt, sweet and thick, lots of caramel, toffee and some great peat. The second hit was the bourbon; a little booze, some honey and brown sugar, followed by a significant vanilla kick. And the third (and best) was the finish: all wine! I've never before or since tasted a beer with that smooth, oakey Cab Sauv finish! While not a traditional scotch ale style, this remains one of my all-time favorite brews.

2) They're 2012 version differed greatly from their original two batches. So much so, that they even changed the label. Right after release, this beer was much closer to a traditional scotch ale than its predecessors. It lacked the complexity, the thickness and the crazy wine finish of the previous batches. Needless to say I was initially very disappointed, but once I adjusted my perspective to taste this brew for what it was, instead of what I was hoping it would be, I had to give it some credit. It had a nice malt body with a solid caramel sweetness and a soft bready finish. Some peat nuances throughout. A solid scotch ale, but nothing I would salivate over. Now here comes the BIG BUT... -> BUT: after 8 months in my cellar, it is slowly returning to its previous self. The wine finish is growing, and the bourbon flavor is asserting itself. The main flavor is still the scotch ale, but the beer is starting to get more complex (finally!! haha). I'll be saving a few more bottles of this to see how far it can progress. Fingers crossed.

 1,721 characters

Photo of liamt07
2.62/5  rDev -34.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Thanks to wordemupg for hooking up a longtime want, 650ml into a tulip. Cheers bro!

Filtered reddish orange, with a white head. Light retention. Nose is super vegetal, asparagus, cabbage and corn. a bit of peat, sweet malt and light oak. Veggies are really off-putting - yuck. Taste has more veggie, light peat, caramel, asparagus. Watery mouthfeel, sweet with a weird lingering flavour. Too many off flavours in this one for me, disappointing given the description of this beer and the expectations I had for it.

 514 characters

Photo of Rutager
4.02/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance. Pours a deep clear amber-gold with a half finger of bubbly off-white head.

Smell. Sweet red grapes, white wine, caramel and sweet toasted grains, some vanilla and old damp wood.

Taste. Oranges and light spices, some sweet caramel and white wine, a bit of wood and smooth bourbon.

Mouthfeel. Medium+ body with smooth medium carbonation.

Overall. Wow, this stuff goes down easy. Some nice gentle flavours going on, I enjoyed it and it went too fast.

 464 characters

Photo of joemcgrath27
3.76/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - clear dark bronze, tall off white head retained nicely leaving consistent lacing as it dissipated
S - toasty, caramael, and bready, not really getting any of the barrel aging or typical scotch ale character on the nose
T - sweet burbon & caramel up front, followed by a subtle fruity character of the wine barrel, roasty and lightly smoky finish
M - heavyish full body, creamy and sticky throughout
O - definitely unique with the burbon and red wine barrel aging coming through nicely without being overwhelming

 515 characters

Photo of Converge
3.87/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

650ml bottle poured into a 16oz tulip.

A - Pours a hazy amber color, surprisingly light. A light tan head of big bubbles puffs up off the pour, but quickly settles to a thin cap. Sub-par head retention and lacing for sure.

S - The first thing I get is actually nuttiness from this. Hazelnut and peanut are strong upfront, with a mild woodiness coming in after. I'm getting a slightly metallic twang here as well. The oak/vanilla character from the bourbon is a little underwhelming, and doesn't translate really well. Caramel malt, slight booze, and subtle leafy hops in the finish Overall, really sweet, but the red wine is almost non-existent. This is sort of reminiscent of Phillips' Trainwreck Barleywine, in that it feels like a brown ale on steroids, an imperial brown ale I suppose.

T - The taste offers up a bit more punch than the aroma. Starts out smooth on the palate with caramel malt sweetness and a tasty oak presence. The nuttiness is still strongly pronounced in the profile, but has other flavors to add a degree of complexity. Finishes with a great balance of vanilla and crystal malt sweetness along side mild red wine, oak, and earthy hops to compliment the sweeter side. I wouldn't go as far as to call this a complex brew, but it certainly has depth to the profile. Still, this feels a little off the mark for the style. Overall it's a bit light for a scotch ale, lacking robust flavors of molasses, anise, or dark dried fruits.

M - Really full, with a thick, hearty body and low carbonation. Alcohol is hardly perceived and overall this feels smooth and easily drinkable.

D - Overall this is a good tasting beer, that offers a respectable variety of flavors. However, it still feels like it's lacking in complexity, and doesn't really feel like a scotch ale. I have to admit I'm a little disappointed in Phillips with this one, as I was really expecting home run. Oh well, still a decent beer, by an even better brewery.

 1,950 characters

Photo of korguy123
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle into tulip courtesy of Rutager for the CANBIF 2012. No date on bottle.

A- Crystal clear dark brown/red pour with a two plus finger soapy, sticky off white head. Lacing clings to the glass.

S- Caramel, toffee, vanilla, brown sugar, definite sour mash aroma from the whiskey barrel. Not getting any wine characteristics but am picking up plenty of oak.

T- Sour mash whiskey, caramel, vanilla and a solid wood flavor. Half way through the bottle the wine really popped and shone through the rest, added a whole new dimension to the beer.. There is a slight char and a touch of alcohol and bitterness.

M- Medium bodied, slightly creamy, decent carbonation and sticky sweet on the lips.

O- I enjoyed the beer, the creativity was pinned on this one. I enjoy whiskey barrel beers but the cabernet barrels did not shine on this, it was almost non-existent and over powered by the sour mash.

 894 characters

Photo of MAB
3.7/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I enjoyed this beer far more than I thought that I would. I love it when that happens!
Nice color and lots of tight head. Looks good in a glass.
Malty notes, caramel, on the nose.
Not as oaky or scotch-like as I was anticipating. Actually rather sweet but there was some hop banlance to reign it in.

Phillips Brewing continues to impress me.

 342 characters

Photo of biboergosum
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

650ml bottle. Nice old-timey imagery on the label of the proclaimed 'twin barrel' brewing process.

This beer pours a clear, golden ruddy hue, with two fingers of thick foamy white head, which leaves some decent island arch lace around the glass as slinks away.

It smells of wood, vanilla, bourbon booze, and a slight smokiness, over a subdued grainy, mildly caramelized malt. The taste is biscuity, grainy malt, more vanilla, that backwoods Appalachian corny whisky character, in moderate amounts, some late-arising meaty red wine essence, and mild earthy, leafy hops.

The carbonation is a bit punchy at first, but readily settles into more tenable territory, the body a bit south of medium weight, and a tad thin, but quite smooth overall. It finishes rather off-dry, the malt and guest whisky elements still in play.

Well, it seems that the whisky trumps the wine in this little experiment - JD's 'finest' besting an Okanagan cabernet sauvignon barrel (there really aren't even all that many kicking around in that particular winemaking region). At any rate, their combined, offsetting effect is a more than drinkable affair, one which still allows the biscuity underlying malt to strut its stuff.

 1,203 characters

Photo of leaddog
4.17/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a slightly hazy copper brown with a finger width of off-white head that dissipates quickly.

Smell - Plum, caramel, toffee, vanilla, slight bourbon aroma, red wine aroma.

Taste - Well balanced flavours of dark fruits, toffee/caramel and vanilla. Slight breadiness and booziness. Dark fruits and vanilla linger in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with light carbonation.

Overall - A pleasant Scotch ale from Phillips. I quite enjoyed the complex balance of the fruit, vanilla, and alcohol. Phillips has the style bang on. Definitely worth a buy.

 577 characters

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

650ml bomber poured into tulip 26/3/12

A clear amber with slow tiny bubbles feeding an light beige head that retains pretty well leaving leaving some random lace on the way down

S toffee and butterscotch, plenty of vanilla, wood, hazelnut, faint smokey notes, a little booze, and a little plum perhaps, and even a little citric hops, everything is subtle on its own but together they work quite well, not sure what the wine barrel did to this one perhaps the vanilla and wood?

T the taste is quite nice but missing a little complexity that the nose had, more toffee's and a little more nutty then the nose, I'm surprised there's still a hop presence this strong in an aged beer, I taste some of their Amnesic in regards to the hop profile, a littler fruitier then the nose

M silky entry and quickly creams up from the bubbles, a little sticky on the lips and the little booze I could smell is not felt on the way down, pretty smooth stuff

O a lot of small things come together to create something big, I really don't see what the wine barrel did to this one but I really enjoyed it nonetheless

this one didn't last me very long that's for sure, well worth the 7$ keep the Phillips flood deep in Alberta please

 1,216 characters

Photo of schopenhauerale
4.07/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

650 ml bottle poured into an Innis & Gunn tulip/demi-thistle.

A: Pours nicely, coming out a deep reddish amber with a moderate two finger off-white head. Retention and lacing were both average.

S: This is the most pungent beer I have drunk since 3 Monts. Tons of malt on the nose, coming through with bread and cheese aromas. Personally I didn't mind it but the smell might border on offensive to some drinkers.

T: Malty, Scotch ale goodness - caramel / toffee, and the barrel-aging is quite evident - oak and vanilla. Not getting much hops, and the finish is quite sweet, with hints of butter.

M: The aging has really tamed this beer, it's full but smooth. However, the feel fades to just a lingering tinge quickly - almost weak.

D: This is a really enjoyable beer. It's not as exciting as the double barrel-aging would suggest, but it's pleasant, drinkable, and well-balanced. Try it if you can find a bottle.

 919 characters

Photo of IronDjinn
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 650 ml brown bottle. Pours out a clear ruddy amber hue, tight foamy off-white head with good retention.

Bready malt on the nose, puncuated with toffee and vanilla, some nuttiness, even some faint chocolate.

Rich bready toffee up front in the flavour, along with a nutty character and some spicy herbal hops. Warming alcohol rises in the middle, while things mellow out with a woody, nutty character on the finish, drying out a bit with some spicy hops, while some vanilla notes tend to appear in the aftertaste and coats the lips after a while.

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied, heavy yet silky texture, moderate carbonation.

Phillips flexes their muscles and shows off their chops with this one, well worth picking up and stocking up on. My favourite so far of their non-hoppy fare, and a well executed experiment.

 820 characters

Photo of BashOnABike
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 650mL bottle into 16oz pint glass:

A: Very little head, which dissipated quickly, and almost resembled espresso crema. Thin film of foamy, creamy lacing, which drips down in ~5s. A very heavy pour!

S: More stout than scotch, with a light mocha/coffee complexion. Wee Heavy hits after a few seconds, with that typical, hard-to-discribe scent...almost like plum pudding. A but of burnt nut and caramel in the back.

T: Much like the scent, but with much more stout up front. Lingers on tongue with Scotch, and burnt nuts and espresso after. Complex and very tasty, thumbs up!

M: As expected, this had a low carbonation, but also a moderately weak body. Not bad, but a little less than expected. Foam lingers on tongue for a while, hiding the high ABV.

O: Definitely one of the better dark ales I've had. Complex, pretty, and all around a winner. The body was a bit weak, but this only served to make it more refreshing. I'm not sure whether the bourbon-barrel aging made a difference, but I've sure never tasted nutty flavours in a Wee Heavy like this before.

 1,073 characters

Photo of ericj551
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Phillips Double Barrel Scotch Ale pours a deep orange red with a foamy head that doesn't linger. The aroma is sweet caramelized malt with some dark fruitiness. Malt dominates the flavor, without being overly sweet. Lots of toasted bread, with hints of peat and roasted malt. There is a bit of herbal hop flavor, with a mild bitterness. The oak is muted, I probably wouldn't have picked it out if it wasn't on the label.

 419 characters

Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Very dark reddish brown like cherry stained wood. 1/2" head that disappeared quickly.

S: Very unique and alluring. First thing that came to my mind was "wow" because of the smell of red wine, vanilla and caramel, and oak. The nutty smell of Phillips malt was present as well.

T: Like a nice full bodied red wine was spliced with the DNA of vanilla, caramel, and hints of bourbon and oak and then used to impregnate the egg of nice ale. Its unbelievable how the different casks were used to create something this flavorful while still being balanced at the same time.

M: Medium to low carbonation, smooth, not very overpowering on the alcohol. Very sneaky.

O: One of the most unique beers I have ever tried. It makes Innis & Gunn seem harsh in comparison. The taste is out of this world.

Note: I found the 2012 version to be oilier and woodier than the 2011 version. It also had less of a wine taste to it. I would rate the 2012 version at about a 4.3 as the taste and mouthfeel were not as good.

 1,003 characters

Photo of EskimoDave
4.02/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On the pour this Scotch Ale reminded me of a carbonated cranberry juice. Immediately available is a large vinous aroma, , vanilla, peat, carrots, oak, wood, cherries, and tobacco. A weird, yet alluring, tumult of flavours of re wine, vanilla, peat, diactyl, carrots, and orange juice. A very smooth, well-attenuated beer with a dry wine-like finish. Phillips' Double Barrel Scotch Ale is a sordid weaving of unique flavours that'll be looking out for each year.

 461 characters

Photo of Viggo
3.67/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

650 ml bottle, big thanks to ritzkiss for hooking me up.

Pours a lightly hazy golden, some amber and orange highlights, thin off white head forms, settles quickly to a thin collar, good retention but no real lacing on the glass.

Smell is nice, lots of vanilla and whiskey, sweet malt, some caramel, winey, crackers, alcohol, apple juice, a bit sour and citrusy in the aroma, alcohol, lots of barrel character.

Taste is weird, too much barrel character, alcohol, vanilla, wood, whiskey, some caramel, a bit biscuity and rich, dark fruit, more alcohol/bourbon, sherry, interesting.

Mouthfeel is thin, light bodied, watery feeling, medium to high carbonation, some alcohol burn. Too much barrel character for the base beer to handle, but I see what they were trying to do, and it has some real nice elements to it. Thanks Eric!

 828 characters

Photo of grub
3.48/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Viggo shared this one. thanks eric!

22oz bottle. sampled oct 29/09.

pours deep red, pretty much crystal clear, with a small fine white head. the head quickly drops to a ring around the glass and leaves no lace.

aroma is a little wacky. definitely notice a contribution from both barrels, but more so the bourbon. raw oak. lots of vanilla. bit of wine. light alcohol. caramel and toffee. whole wheat bread. bit of biscuit and cracker. the barrels are the main thing dominating here, but the beer still manages to come through nicely.

taste is dominated by the barrel, but to the detriment of the beer beneath. this tastes like it spent too much time in the barrel. tons of bourbon. oaky tannin. vanilla. the wine is less noticeable here, lest as even more oak piled on top of the bourbon barrel. bit of caramel and big buttery butterscotch. whole wheat bread. bit of biscuit and cracker. hints of smoke and earth. the alcohol seems more warming and harsh in this 7.7% wee heavy than in the 9.3% one i had before it. low bitterness level.

mouthfeel is nice. nice big body. fairly dry finish. medium-low carbonation level. bit of astringency from the large oaky tannin presence.

drinkability is ok. definitely far too much barrel in my eyes. you can catch glimpses (especially in the aroma) of a promising beer beneath, but unfortunately it's been beaten by a big barrel hammer. a shame as it really had promise up front.

 1,424 characters

Photo of Derek
4.04/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I knew this had been out a while ago, but after running all over Victoria, I finally stopped at the brewery & asked. They didn't have any, but suggested Vintages on Douglas, where I found the last bottle!

A: Copper-brown with a bubbly, off-white head; very thin ring of retention only leaves a little leg.

S: Lovely woody aroma with plenty of scotch and underlying vanilla; toffee & hints of fruity esters.

T: Sweet toffee, vanilla, wood, nut, very modest bitterness (like a true scotch ale) and hints of bubble gum fruity esters. The alcohol is warming and there's certainly some whiskey in the finish (and hints of tannins). I think the wood aging has been done perfectly, though I'd prefer the base brew to have a little more malt & body (though this one really showcases the barrel aging).

M: Well attenuated moderate body has a slightly drying finish.

D: A pleasant sipper.

 883 characters

Photo of bobsy
4.57/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this at Derek's place, and apparently he had quite the odyssey to find a bottle. Thanks for sharing the bomber.

Pours an orange/brown hybrid with a finger of off-white head that soon settles to a whispy film. Some spots of lace are left behind. Wonderfully inviting aroma of toffee and vanilla means that its hard to actually sniff it without sneaking a sly sip. This is how barrel-aging should be done! Nice bourbon notes, bring a sweet molasses, vanilla and oak flavour to the beer, while there's also a well-rounded fruitiness and wood character which I'm presuming has been heightened by the wine barrel. Smooth, creamy and delectable in the mouth. Far too drinkable!

This is an impressive beer. So many barrel-aged creations almost cease to taste like beer, and end up tasting like bourbon, whiskey or whatever lived in the barrel previously. Not here! The barrel compliments the beer, but doesn't overpower it. Talking of the beer, I think the base probably wouldn't be taht great a scotch ale without the barrel addition, but its lightness works well here with the awesome addition of the bourbon, wine and wood flavours. Great stuff!

 1,149 characters

Photo of canucklehead
4.44/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Really a watershed beer for BC. Barrel aged to perfection and a future classic. This is a dark beer with a nose that smells of vanilla and wood. The beer is very redolent of bourbon and some red wine. Matt used a good Scotch Ale base to anchor all the whisky/vanilla goodness which is actually puts it a step up on Innis and Gunn. I loved the smoky taste off the first sip coupled the amazing nose. The only small flaw is that the finish is a little short otherwise a world class beer that takes risks.

 502 characters

Photo of BDTyre
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have been drinking beers from Phillips for years. In that time, I've seen Matt Phillips make incredible bounds in the quality of his brews, and this is just another success.

As per most of Phillips' beers, this is served in a bomber.

The colour is a bit light compared to other Scotch Ales I've had. Copper-mahogany, this looks a bit like a barley wine.

Peaty, vanilla-bourban scent and slight wine traces. This smells like a barely-wined version of a wee heavy. Bits of butterscotch and spice hide in the flavour and the scent. The oak barrels shine through, both the bourbon and wine and they don't overwhelm the smoky peat, but play with it.

Good, mild carbonation. I can pick up traces of barely wine and scotch ale, and at 7.7% alcohol its a fair compromise between the two and something I might be able to have two of.

 830 characters

Photo of ritzkiss
4.28/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle of Phillips' most recent release. Bottle states, "This scotch ale has been aged in Kentucky Bourbon barrels and then loaded into Cabernet Sauvignon barrels from the Okanagon."

Pours a orange tinged brown (bourbonish) with a finger plus of head. Bubbles coming up sustain some lacing and a film on top of the beer.

Smell is oak, vanilla, bourbon, molasses, faint licorice, and even fainter hints of raisin.

Entry screams vanilla with hints of bourbon in the body and finish, faint molasses, a slight herbaceous quality (maybe even peat). Not finding much influence from the wine barrels but the bourbon is there - not overpowering as some are inclined but nicely integrated into the flavor.

Wow, I am really impressed with this offering. Slightly over carbonated with a faint watery finish but the mouthfeel comes across as creamy as accentuates the flavors. A nice mix of complex flavors that doesn't scream BIG BEER; this is fairly light and actually quite drinkable.

I have to say this for Phillips - they are always creating and bottling new beers in new styles and pushing the envelope for what can be brewed in BC. They don't nail it every time but in my mind, Matt Phillips is hands down the best brewer in BC for his ability to create multiple styles at a high level and for his willingness to try new styles. This is one of the better ones and possibly (hopefully) we'll see it again. If you can track one down - it's most certainly worth drinking.

 1,473 characters

Double Barrel Scotch Ale from Phillips Brewing Company
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 33 ratings