Bourbon Barrel Hellfighter (w/ Vanilla Bean)
Karbach Brewing Co.

Bourbon Barrel Hellfighter (w/ Vanilla Bean)Bourbon Barrel Hellfighter (w/ Vanilla Bean)
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Porter - Imperial
Ranked #26
Ranked #1,194
4.33 | pDev: 10.85%
Karbach Brewing Co.
Texas, United States
Bourbon Barrel Hellfighter (w/ Vanilla Bean)Bourbon Barrel Hellfighter (w/ Vanilla Bean)
Reviews: 30 | Ratings: 155 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of jngrizzaffi
jngrizzaffi from Texas

4.61/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a dark, pitch black color with a thin brown foamy head. Retention is mild. Lacing is mild. Big time vanilla aroma with chocolate at the end. Very appealing. Big vanilla taste. Mild chocolate. Bourbon subtle. Butterscotch at the end. Very smooth. Heavy bodied. Smooth and silky. Mild carbonation. Great, Great Beer.

Sep 25, 2016
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Stevem68 from Ohio

4.25/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a nice dark chocolate color. Aroma is malty vanilla and some boozy sweetness. Flavor is sweet vanilla and roasted malts. Has some boozy notes and a nice feel. Overall a really nice beer.

Jun 26, 2016
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mig100 from Texas

4.27/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

8 ounce pour from a 2015 keg served on draft at Craft Pride, as part of their barrel aged beer day for ACBW 2016.

Appearance is black in the glass with frothy mocha swirls and some large bubbles, light shines through with burgundy hue. Nose is subtle vanilla, really don't pick up a ton of it in the aroma. There's also some nice but slight coffee-esque roast and oak coming through. Taste is rich, velvety and natural marshmallow vanilla that really coats the palate, some heat going down. Carbonation level is just about perfect, with that traditional porter roastiness, lingering oak and bourbon helping to dial down some of the sweetness from the vanilla.

Overall an awesome balance of decadent yet natural vanilla sweetness, portery roast and barrel presence. I've had all other variants of the Hellfighter series and this is easily the best and most enjoyable drinking experience.

May 21, 2016
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Treyliff from West Virginia

4.26/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle poured into a snifter

A- pours a deep black color with a small foamy khaki colored head that reduces quickly, leaving nothing behind

S- aroma up front consists of chocolate, vanilla & light bourbon, along with brown sugar & caramel. A bit more bourbon on the close

T- bourbon forward up front, quickly followed by a mix of cocoa and vanilla, along with some molasses/brown sugar. Mid-palate retains the bourbon notes and a bit of heat and adds some vanilla cream sweetness. The finish lingers of more spicy bourbon and a hint of vanilla

M- medium body and medium-low carbonation leads to a slightly foamy mouthfeel that turns a but creamy on the finish

O- a bourbon drinkers stout, this one has a bourbon presence throughout. The vanilla is subtle but a nice compliment to the base beer and the barrel aging

Mar 27, 2016
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stevoj from Idaho

3.98/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Saturday night bottle share. Bottle from Steve. What more can you say? Barrel aging an excellent RIS makes it better, and then through in some vanilla. What can go wrong? Not much, Excellent aged beer,

Feb 22, 2016
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BeerSamurai34 from Texas

4.24/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very solid beer. Great barrel presence with nice chocolates notes upfront. I didn't get a ton of vanilla and I drank one pretty fresh,. It seems like the barrel overpowered the adjuncts some, but still a very solid offering.

Jan 27, 2016
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MLDucky from Texas

4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Great soft vanilla aroma with bourbon notes. This bottle is going on 9 months I think. The vanilla is becoming very marshmallow like, almost artificial but you can definitely tell it's there. Many people are saying it's thin, and yes, compared to a stout it's thin, but it's a porter, that's expected for me. Nice beverage at $10-12 but $15-17 is pushing it for this in my opinion. I don't think the vanilla really elevates this past regular BBH.

Jan 04, 2016
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Rimbimhoot from Illinois

4.46/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Very dark brown with a thin light brown head
S: Vanilla, bourbon, chocolate, marshmallow, light oak, brown sugar
T: Vanilla, bourbon, light roast, oak, chocolate, brown sugar, some dark fruit
M: Medium heavy and creamy
O: Just like the regular BBH this is like the porter version of BCBS

Jan 02, 2016
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mothman from Minnesota

3.98/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Tan head. Dark brown in color.

Cocoa and chocolate with a lot of oak and vanilla. The bourbon shows a bit.

Roasted malt. Finishes with more roast.

My only complaint here is the mouth feel. Just too thin for me. Wish it was thicker.

Dec 27, 2015
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jlindros from Massachusetts

4.48/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to rudzud

Big foamy creamy slight darker colored head, doesn't fade, nice thick lacing too, pitch black color.

Nose is very nice, tons of bourbon and loads of vanilla, candy biscotti toffee, dark milky chocolate, caramel, cocoa, hint of booze.

Taste brings tons more vanilla, creamy milk sugar and vanilla cream, cocoa notes, lots more bourbon and toasty vanilla barrel, big caramel candy biscotti, little doughy cookie, hint bitter earthy hop. Finish earthy hop bitterness, dark choc, creamy vanilla and milk choc, seems like lactose in there, light bourbon lingering.

Mouth is fuller bod, creamy lush, decent carb, light warning booze.

Oct 19, 2015
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Mattygross44 from California

2.76/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 2.5

Very very weak taste very watered down not a great thick mouth fill like other top rated beers in its class this def is the Honda of beers in its class. Vanilla taste like a cheap additive like drops of syrup like someone else mentioned! Would def not buy or seek in the future

Oct 18, 2015
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zonker17 from Texas

4.45/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Draft pour at Karbach restaurant. Quickly receding head with little to no lacing. Black. Burnt marshmallow and wood nose. Vanilla, booze, dark malts, smoke. Alcohol present and welcome. A bit on the thin side and moderate carbonation.

Oct 16, 2015
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rudzud from Massachusetts

4.48/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Shared with JLindros.

A - Poured into a Kate the Great tulip a dark brown almost black hue surf a thick one finger mocha head that fades to leave creamy blanket.

S - Aromas of nice vanilla, soft bourbon. Little bit of chocolate. No real alcohol.

T - Taste is similar to the nose, lots of bourbon and vanilla. The alcohol was hidden well, still there but doesn't drink like 11%. There is nice chocolate, light creaminess. The vanilla and bourbon are super harmonious. Really really pleasant.

M - Mouthfeel is creamy lightly carbonated. Alcohol hidden well.

O - Overall this beer was really tasty. Great vanilla notes with soft chewy bourbon and nougat. Great.

Serving type: bottle

Oct 16, 2015
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VTR from Florida

4.3/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a Left Hand Stout glass. Immediately while pouring the bourbon wafted up and something told me this was going to be a good beer. As soon as the thin head settled I smelled the beer. There was a slight roasty character, slight chocolate, slight vanilla, coconut, and or course the oak. I immediately sipped the beer as I like to see how the beer develops as it warms and it was much colder than Karbach has recommended. The first taste was interesting. The finish had a very strong tinny taste and no vanilla taste that got me worried. Once the beer got to about 55 degrees I found that the tinny taste had disappeared and the vanilla opened up and became slightly more pronounced. The flavors melded together wonderfully and the bourbon was not over the top "hot." The bourbon was there but I enjoyed it. I wish the vanilla was stronger and it became a sweeter beer for an interesting experience. I shared this beer with my GF who does not like a lot BA beers because they are usually "too hot" but she really liked this beer. Overall this is a great BA porter and I wish I could get more of it.

Oct 12, 2015
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Best_Enjoyed_In_Texas from Texas

4.42/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Upon release, this beer was pretty easy to come by in my market (Houston - which is local for K-bach). I first had this on draft and since then purchased several bottles.

Taste is VERY similar is regular BBH, almost to the point of being hard to distinguish the two. Drank out of a snifter. Pour is very dark, with light mocha head that recedes w/in a minute. Has a great sweet, bourbon, & boozy taste. Anyone who loves BCBS or KBS will find this very enjoyable.

Oct 07, 2015
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kojevergas from Louisiana

3.44/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on-draught @ Brew & Brew in Austin, TX. 5oz cost $5.00 USD. 11% ABV.

HEAD: About 1cm wide. Khaki colour. Creamy and appealing. Recedes within 20 seconds.

BODY: Predictably, it's an opaque solid black. No yeast particles are visible within.

It's a nice looking bourbon barrel porter for what it is, but the head could be darker and richer (and longer lasting). Not unique or special within its category.

AROMA: Bourbon-forward, definitely, with notes of genuine vanilla bean, expressive coconut, and barrel sugars. Aside from that, all the base beer brings to the table is a generic dark malt/chocolate malt sweetness. I find no coffee, chocolate/cacao, dessert-like notes, ash, charred sugars, caramel, etc. There is some cream.

Aromatic intensity is moderate. Suggests a sweet-but-not-dessertlike imperial porter with an underwhelming base but impressive barrel notes.

No yeast character, off-notes, booze, or overt hops are detectable.

TASTE: The vanilla bean is lovely, and prominent. Subtle bourbony coconut accentuates and supports the vanilla. Barrel sugars combine neatly with the generic dark malt sweetness from the base beer, landing this on the sweeter side for an imperial porter - though it never arrives in dessert beer territory. Cream is present as well, but ultimately - as I feared - the base beer is underwhelming and forgettable. This beer is all bourbon, no porter. There's no roasted barley or chocolate malt (in terms of fundamentals), and no coffee, cacao/chocolate, fudge, ash, charred sugars, burnt character, espresso/capuccino, etc. (in terms of additional complexity).

Balanced for what it is, but the intricacy is really lacking in this one.

TEXTURE: Smooth, wet, medium to full-bodied, well-carbonated, and adequately thick and hefty on the palate to support its flavours. Never overbearing or syrupy. The 11% is shockingly well disguised, never emerging in terms of warmth in the mouthfeel. Creamy and silky. Well-executed, emphasizing the bourbon barrel nicely.

There's a nice harmony of texture and taste here.

OVERALL: A beer for bourbon drinkers, and definitely one of Karbach's finest beers - if not their best accomplishment to date. But the base beer is as underwhelming and plain as can be. Drinkable and enjoyable as this is, it leaves a lot to be desired. That said, I could happily down triple the quantity I bought, and I'd definitely buy this again if I found it at a more reasonable price. As a no-frills bourbon porter, it'd be wonderful if offered in 4-packs. But it can't compete with style paragons, and won't dazzle anyone familiar with bourbon barrel stouts & porters. Nice work from Karbach, and more quickly drinkable than many beers in the style.

B- (3.44)

Oct 01, 2015
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thereal_adam from Texas

4.61/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This might be a category below Vanilla Rye and Fundamental Observation, but despite that this is still worth seeking out. Don't expect the overpowering vanilla bomb that FO brings when fresh, but with that said the vanilla is dominant and makes an already good beer even better. Like bacon, everything is better with vanilla.

Sep 19, 2015
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Getalegup from Texas

4.15/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark dark brown
Smells slightly boozy bourbon with a hint of vanilla.
Has a dry mouthfeel. Flavor includes cocoa, a slight sweetness, very little vanilla, and some bourbon.
Poured with little foam and lacing or foam. Little carbonation.

Sep 08, 2015
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nathanmiller from New York

3.92/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Benefits from all the good characteristics of normal BBH: color, head, complexity. Still thinner than desired. And the vanilla flavoring tastes extremely artificial, though in this case I must say it actually works. Usually that artificial vanilla taste is off-putting, but here it mingles well with the bourbon on the nose to create a pleasant finish.

Sep 04, 2015
Photo of champ103
champ103 from Texas

4.4/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a dark, nearly opaque black color. A two finger tan head forms, and that eventually recedes to a small cap. Leaving rings of lace behind.
S: Light roast, some coffee. Then deep dark chocolate and vanilla beans. Wood/oak in the background, but very balanced.
T: Oh yeah, the vanilla is there. Incredibly balance with the sweetness, dark chocolate, roast, coffee. Oak tannins are more apparent than in the nose. You have to let this warm up in order to get the full vanilla, which again has incredible balance. Love it.
M/D: A big full and viscous body. Ultra smooth and velvety at the same time. No heat at all, and the balance is superb. Which makes this incredible to drink.

I love the balance here. Always amazed with the base barrel aged stout/porter. It strikes that perfect balance for me. The vanilla is not over done here, but still very apparent, as well as not being artificial (at least for my tastes). Really well done, and highly recommended. Also, very glad this is a "limited" release that is actually pretty easy to find.

Aug 30, 2015
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Kuges from Texas

4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Perfect balance of bourbon and vanilla along with the fact that it's a great porter as a base. I am glad I bought a few of these especially with them being limited release.

Aug 29, 2015
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jtortorice from Texas

4.6/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on draft at D&T in Houston. I had to wait 20 minutes for it to warm up because it was served in a tulip SUPER cold. I thought it had Great aroma, subtle bourbon and a touch of vanilla. I was worried that because it was the first batch it would be loaded with vanilla but it's outstanding.

Aug 28, 2015
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brandoneast from Texas

4.75/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Just an incredible Imperial Porter. It's rich, decadent, complex and the bourbon barrel character really shines here, accented so well with a blast of vanilla. This is REAL vanilla bean, nothing artificial tasting here. Bottle limits were the only thing keeping me from buying a case of this stuff. Aroma of: Ice cream shoppe baking waffle cones, roasted pecans or walnuts, chocolate fudge, bourbon barrel.

Flavors are spectacular too: vanilla nougat, smooth bourbon without it being boozy, toasted marshmallow, chocolate covered almonds, Zero candy bar, more roasted nuts, some cherry notes from the barrel. Drinks very well.

Aug 28, 2015
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E-McFarden from Texas

4.74/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I love this beer. Perfect smell with coconut and vanilla with an oaky background. Taste matches the smell but bursting with an amazingly balanced sweetness of vanilla and oakness. I would buy this beer over and over again.

Aug 28, 2015
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Bimmers from Texas

4.59/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

When I first had the regular BBH I thought it was way too hot to drink and needed to sit a while. I was afraid this would be the same. It's not...It's ready to drink right away. Let it warm up to about 60 and enjoy. The vanilla isn't overpowering, but its there. It doesn't taste artificial like most. It's a very easy drinker, but it will sneak up on you. Enjoy it!

Aug 27, 2015
Bourbon Barrel Hellfighter (w/ Vanilla Bean) from Karbach Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 155 ratings