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Royal Oil | Bull & Bush Brewery

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Royal OilRoyal Oil

Brewed by:
Bull & Bush Brewery
Colorado, United States

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Batch 12/4/15 (Bottled) - Aged 1.5 Years - 13.5% ABV

Added by Mebuzzard on 04-08-2007

For Trade:
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Reviews: 28 | Ratings: 67
Photo of ArrogantB
3.75/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

500ml bottle $19.71. Murky brown color, almost muddy. Aroma is boozy and sort of takes over the base beer. The flavor is pretty much what you would expect, barrel, caramel, and booze but the booze is a little heavy for my tastes. Overall a good one but overpriced.

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Photo of Domingo
3.9/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is supposed to be a 2005 vintage barrel aged barleywine per the sign on the wall. I'd say it reminds me a little more of a super-strong Imperial Stout to be honest, but that might just be the wood characteristics and color.
Arrives in a pretty large goblet. It's brown to the point of being virtually black except for a tiny white layer on the surface. The edge of the glass is sticky to give you an idea of how thick this brew is.
Smell is sweet and boozy. I'd almost say it smells like a cross between a barleywine, a stout, and some bourbon.
The taste is potent. I think with each subsequent offering at the Bull and Bush they seem to get just a little bit sweeter. I think this is potentially the sweetest beer I've had to date! Sugar, coconut, caramel, vanilla, licorice, and toffee are here. Yes, you read that coconut description correctly. I've picked up a similar flavor in their imperial stout, too. I can only think it's a combination of the wood and their sweeter malts. It's a really good and unique flavor, though...so don't misinterpret it. No hop flavors readily present, but there's no alcohol burn at all either.
It's thick and sticky, but at over 12% potency, you have to expect that. I think the sticky sweetness really makes this a nightcap or possibly even a 1/2 pint.
It's insanely good, but it's just not a beer that you can drink much of or follow up with anything else.
My recommendation would be to split a glass of this with someone.

EDIT: This beer pops up here and there and is still quite the booze monster, but is clearly more of a barleywine now. The color is more of a lighter brown, and the big caramel malts and hops come through more. It's still a splitter or very slow sipper, but it's a good beer nonetheless.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500 mL bottle. Murky brown with a reddish tinge. Lots of bourbon. Very oaky and nutty bourbon aroma. Boozy and a little bit of brown sugar. Taste is also a ton of bourbon. Really strong bourbon and oak. Brown sugar behind it. Some vanilla in the back end. Lingering bourbon and booze. Medium heavy. Very boozy, but not very sweet, which I appreciate.

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Photo of Oxymoron
4.05/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

The royal treatment. The best beer I tried at B&B for sure. The pour was a darker copper color with good clarity but some haze. Not much for head and retention in general and no lacing to speak of. There is a nice viscosity to the beer when swirled.

The nose was balance with more of an English feel with a strong caramel presence and more earthy hop aromas. Noticeable alcohol but not too much of a deterrent. Some tropical fruit notes are in the background too. Not too much of a cask presence in the nose but others in my party could pick it out. Or at least that is what they wanted me to think.

The taste was balance as well. A great malt presence with a caramel and grainy flavors. The alcoholic flavor was still noticeable but subtle and more balance then what the nose first indicated. Some light bready flavors that brings almost a biscuit like image to mind. Lighter raisin flavors in the finish and a more lasting impression with hop flavors. As the beer warms, plum and some slight cherry flavors are detected as well.

The body is big with limited solvent and alcoholic notes. Light carbonation and would have liked more but that is ok. Overall a good beer but one beer at a time thank you.

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Photo of DenverHopHead
4.09/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 1pt 9fl oz bottle (#566) with a bottled on date on 12/4/15; into a snifter.
Appearance - heavy brown in color with a lot of carbonation and some floating sediment. Carbonation bubbles try and build and maintain a head, but nothing materializes. Lacing is nonexistent.
Smell - very sweet notes of bourbon and caramel!
Taste - follows the nose precisely, however the sweetness is tamed by the booze!
Feel - scary smooth at 13.5%; big boozy and sweet brew!
Overall - an absolutely brilliant beer, however the price point is silly.

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Photo of Crosling
4.15/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ 5th Annual Boulder Strong Ale Fest. Definately one of the better barrel aged beers of the night. Vibrant nose of malt and oak barrel character. Balanced, it took on the character of the barrel (oak, vanilla, bourbon, coconut) and also the maltiness of the original beer, with hints of caramel and fruit. A nice brew.

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Photo of grumpy
4.22/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My review is pretty much a ditto to Domingo (previous reviewer). I'll toss a couple of other things out there. When we were at B&B and I sipped (did I say sipped?”I meant inhaled) my Royal Oil, there was no description of the beer on the board. I had never tasted it before, so I asked the barkeep if it were an Imp Stout. He said that it didn't really have a style, and poured me a taster. I could smell the Bourbon the instant he set it on the bar beneath my nose. I sampled, and ordered up. It's the sweet Bourbon bomb.

I didn't get the coconut (I have tasted that in other Imp Stouts, Domingo, you're not crazy!) but the rest of the flavors are there and dominated by Bourbon. Marvelous beer, but one is enough in a sitting. I'd have it again another day - in a heartbeat - but a touch more Noble hops, or more alcohol burn would give it a better mark on drinkability.

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Photo of KevSal
4.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Jason and Mike on making this happen. This is my white whale! Mike generously packed another as an extra!! Yeah kramerbarthomer kills it.. All the time.

L- looks pretty good, appears to have tons of carbonation

S- huge dark fruit and prune, nice barrel and vanilla. Very juicy, you can tell this is going to be good haha

T- big dark fruit upfront, boom tons of flavor a on the tongue. Im starting to see why there was so much commotion behind this guy! Follows the nose well, missing a smudge of what the nose brought

F- feel is huge this is one large sticky stout. High carbonation for the style however alch is nonexistent.

O- feels nice to tackle a long time want and luckily I have a couple to age and share on the west coast. This was really nice, I can only imagine what the pappy version was like.
Between this and blighs, must be nice to be in CO

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Photo of emmasdad
4.32/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours from the tap a rich, dark, stained oak color, with some minimal foam on top. The aromas leap from the glass, even before my nose gets close. Bourbon, vanilla, dried figs, raisins, and alcohol. The alcohol is immediately noticeable when I first take a sip, as is the bourbon. Caramel, dark fruits, oak, vanilla and dark brown sugar combine to round out the palate. What an awesome beer! My major complaint is with the fact I was not allowed to purchase a growler.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
4.33/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

B/B unloaded this at the Boulder Beer Fest. Similar to their Legend of Liquid Brain, but a bit better IMO. Aged in Wild Turkey barrels.
Pours a silky black/dark brown, minimal head. Very smooth look to it.
Smells of slight vanilla, bourbon and caramel. Some toasted malt and maple. Strong, yet not overpowering. Alcohol is surprisingly small.
Taste is wonderful. A nice balance between the malts, bourbon, vanilla, caramel, sweet molasses and a touch of raisin. The caramel is warming and enduring. Stays with the palate long after the sip. A nice, clean residual taste. This makes the drinkability that much better.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.35/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

500mL bottle poured into an oversized tulip.

Pours viscous and caramel in color like a barleywine and settles the colors of raisins and murky in the glass. A foamy oatmeal-colored head forms but dissipates fairly quickly. 4.75

Smells immediately of port wine, raisins and dark fruit and spicy bourbon and oak. Vanilla and sweet bread show too. Very rich smelling and sets some big expectations. 4.5

Thick and gooey in feel with caramel, vanilla, bourbon spice, raisin and figs. 4.25

I'll reiterate thick and gooey. Very clean with almost no notable alcohol burn that I can perceive. Moderately sweet with light carbonation and a finish that resembles wine or port wine. 4.5

Damn. First Bull and Bush beer. Highly impressive. More than impressive. Outstanding.

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Photo of mothman
4.41/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark caramel brown. No head.

Lots of oak and bourbon. Warming and spot on. Lots of caramel and toffee. Lots of malt. Vanilla.

Full bodied. Nice warming bourbon feel.

Great ba bwine. This stuff is complex and delicious.

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Photo of zac16125
4.52/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

500mL bottle into a snifter
Bottle #250

Thanks to protonw07 for sending this one over in a trade!

A: Murky, opaque mahogany, 1 fingers width of fizzy tan colored head that dissipates quickly and leaves essentially no lacing. 4.25

S: Amazing aroma. Super sweet and quite boozy; tons of dark fruits; subtle cocoa, candied sugar, some oaky herbaceous notes, lots of barrel characters. 4.75

T: Like the nose its very sweet, dark fruits and candied sugar; big barrel notes with charred oak and bourbony vanilla, barrel notes are huge. Quite excellent. 4.5

M/D: Very low carbonation, quite smooth, full bodied almost thick, some booze is noted but the ABV is actually very well masked, drinkability is good. 4.25

O: Hits all the notes a BA English Barleywine should. Great combo of sweetness from the base beer and barrel notes. Does not top MoAS as my favorite, but still exceptional. Worth seeking out. 4.5

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Photo of gatornation
4.57/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

BO 12/4/15 Pours a murky rusty mahogany color with a thin khaki head very little lacing, smell BA wood and bourbon with dark fruit toffee and caramel whoa! it smells great. Taste is superb! BA wood and bourbon on the front it mixes so well with vanilla ,dark fruits, slight hops with toffee and caramel just delicious, mouth feel is lower carbonation with a smooth silky luscious Bourbon barrel . This is one of the best BW ive tasted complex in flavor with excellence in the Barrel.

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Photo of Kramerbarthomer
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally released in bottles for the first time. Had multiple pours at the B&B Xmas Beer tasting. Booming presence of caramel and leather on the nose and palate. Barrels play a huge role here with a major bourbon presence. This beer is quite boozy at the first sip, but delicious.

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Photo of bgold86
4.66/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a 12 ounce snifter, huge nose, lots of dark dried fruits, caramel, toffee, and vanilla. Taste is really nice, very impressed with this one, more dark dried fruits, slight chocolatey raspberry going on. Very very impressive!

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Photo of rallison
4.67/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From notes during my GABF 07 trip (had at the brewpub itself).

2005 Vintage of Royal Oil.

Notes (as copied exactly from my notebook):

Bourbon! Smells of sweet bourbon.

Taste is bourbon, thick caramel and toffee. Touch of dark fruits - dates especially.

Rich, thick & delicious.

A beautiful nightcap beer.

Anyway, I think I enjoyed this brew just as much as everybody else! Give it a try if you have a chance.

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Photo of russpowell
4.68/5  rDev +4%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I could buy into this being a BW based on superficial appearances. But other than color, I'd accept this as a IMP Stout, either way, a damn tasty beer!

Poured chestnunt with a modicum of tan head. A bit of head retention & lacing

S: Bourbon, cakeyness & raisins

T: Dryness, rich cakeyness, chocolate & a bit boozey warmth up front. Brown sugar, rum, & a bit of caramel as this warms. Finishes oaky dry with plenty of candy sweetness

MF: Sticky with low carbonation & good chewyness

Drank great for the strength, the dryness & abv would eventually haul you down

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Photo of MrMonkey
4.69/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this one on tap at the pub on my recent trip to Denver. My buddy lives in an apartment building right next door and didn't know what the Bull and Bush was. He assumed it was some crappy local dive. Glad I convinced him otherwise.
Review from shorthand notes.

Pours a deep mahogany with barely any head, more of just a scattering of bubbles on the surface. Virtually no lacing.

Smells like toffee, caramel, dried apricots, hints of chocolate and vanilla, oak and bourbon.

Lots of bourbon right up front. It almost burns. Once the heat subsides it reveals complex layers almost identical to the nose: toffee, caramel, apricot, and oak. Lots of residual sugars in this one. Finishes with more bourbon and a nice warm feeling inside.

Sweet, almost cloying, with a medium-bodied mouthfeel and little carbonation.

Tasty, but sweet, and the alcohol is not hidden at all. Still, a very complex and enjoyable beer.

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Photo of session1979
4.72/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap in a heavy English goblet at Bull and Bush brewery.

Appearance - Pours a dark brown almost black with very little carbonation. The swirl around the glass leaves nice legs, thick almost port like.

Smell - Sweet Bourbon, oatmeal cookies, wonderful malt and molasses. A wonderfully complex nose that made me wonder if the taste would back it up.

Taste - Huge, powerful, complex, pure bliss. Tastes of sweet malts, bourbon, dark fruits, vanilla and caramel. I would say more but I don't want to complicate what was a wonderful experience.

Mouthfeel - Thick and viscous, coats the mouth with a smooth consistency. Lovely.

Drinkability - So this is a monster with a fairly high ABV but I just can't stop drinking it. I had two with dinner and if the alcohol hadn't taken affect I would of had one more. If anything, the sweetness of the beer is the only thing that hampers the drinkability.

Final Thoughts: If you couldn't already tell I love this beer. It is definitely in my top 5, I just wish you could purchase growlers of it! If you ever find yourself in Cherry Creek near Bull and Bush be sure to stop in, you won't be disappointed.

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Photo of PDXAmbassador
4.73/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured clear mahogany with quickly disappearing head. Smell is strong bourbon, caramel, dark fruit, and a tiny bit of dog food - a very small tick against an otherwise fantastic nose. Taste is classic huge tasty English Barleywine -- bourbon but no roast, caramel but not sickly sweet, thick and creamy but drinkable, bitter but not hoppy. Lovely dark fruit character but not a raisin bomb. Still just a bit hot for me, but I'm a wimp when it comes to alcohol heat, and I imagine it'll be at a perfect level next year. Overall, this is all I dream an English Barleywine could be. Exceptionally delicious and well made. Loved it.
Bonus: it's pretty much the coolest looking bottle ever, thick sealed wax, crisply printed label, matte finish.

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Photo of mentor
4.73/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Holy Crap! If I could brew this beer, I would never need to buy a high-end commercial beer ever again. Reviewed from notes found on several pages, as I've had this several times.

Minimal brown layer of fine bubbles over a dark brown liquid. Brown edgings when held to light. Amazing legs when swirled, no lacing.

Smells stunning. Cognac with heavy dark fruits and strong, but clean, alcohol. Flavor is dark raisin, plum, vanilla, pasty cookie dough, toffee, sweet nut, and lightly of molasses. Thick sweet is lifted off the palate by the alcohol. Nice oak and toasty undertone throughout.

Thick and lushious in the mouth with modest carbonation. Truly a stunning example of what beer can be. Plays the same game as Sam Adams Utopias, but better, as this beer is about flavor rather than simply shooting for the highest ABV possible. I can't get enough.

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Photo of rhinos00
4.84/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had on-tap at Bull & Bush just prior to GABF. Poured into a snifter. This beer has been aged in 28-year old Pappy Van Winkle barrels.

A- Pours a dark brown with a hint of burgundy when held into light. Produced a fingers width of tan head that quickly dissipated. Very little to no lacing.

S- Just a perfect mix of amazing aromas. Sweet molasses, caramel, loads of dark fruit with a nice cognac, alcohol background. I could smell this all day.

T- Even more complex than the aroma. The barrel aging in this was probably the best I have experienced. Dark fruits are the first thing to hit the palate. The complexity quickly comes into play as caramel and toffee come into play. There is a molasses-like sweetness in their as well. The beer finishes on the sweet side with a little bit of restrained alcohol heat and oak barrel.

M- Thick and viscous. Coats the palate perfectly. Low carbonation, but works perfectly with this style.

D- With so much going on, it was pretty amazing how easy this was to drink. It was on the sweeter side, but not overdone.

Overall, been wanting to try this beer for a couple year now as I am a huge fan of english barleywines. This more than lived up to expectations. The way the barrel aging blended in so seamlessly with the barleywine was absolutely remarkable. Easily the best BA barleywine I have had to date.

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Photo of sterstar1
4.9/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

What an amazing find. We discovered this beer at the Boulder Strong Ale Fest last year. It was up against top beers from the best breweries of the nation and out of six true beer snobs, we all agreed that this one was the best. I thought I knew every brewery in Colorado and after tasting this beer, I said who the f--- is Bull and Bush? Needless to say, we all made our way to this delightful brew pub and bellied up for some more of the oil. It was SO good. They serve it in a large thick goblet at a cool but not cold temperature. There's almost no carbonation at all and it's very dark. The mouth-feel is exquisite and the taste is fruity with candy sugars like Twizzlers. Now, the only thing that might knock this beer down a bit is the fact that it's SO sweet. However, since you can only get this beer at Bull and Bush, if you pair it with some salty food like fries, the sweetness is more than tolerable. Anyway, my only complaint about this beer is availability. Make sure you call B&B before heading over. I've showed up there on many occasions just to hear that they're out. :( Definitely one of my all-time favorite beers. Cheers!

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Photo of waltonc
4.94/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at Bull and Bush. 9 ounce pour. This is one of the better beers I've had. Pours a murky dark brown with thin tan head. Fairly still appearance. Smells and tastes of bourbon, brown sugar, vanilla, caramel. Very sweet, but not over the top. Hops are seemingly non-existent. This is up there with Abacus, Perfect Storm and Arctic Devil. Thick body and spot on low/medium carbonation for the style. I may have to go back for more today.

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Royal Oil from Bull & Bush Brewery
4.5 out of 5 based on 67 ratings.
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