Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout (Signature Series) | America's Brewpub

very good
80 Ratings
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Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout (Signature Series)Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout (Signature Series)

Brewed by:
America's Brewpub
Illinois, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Imperial Stout aged in 10-year-old Heaven Hill barrels.

Added by GbVDave on 03-08-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 80 |  Reviews: 72
Photo of GregSVT
4.07/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: An aggressive pour yields a small milk chocolate head that quickly fades to a small ring with no lacing. I've seen this refered to as slippery slides down the side of the glass but doesn't stick.

S: Smell is wonderful...dark cocoa, coffee, and slightly vanilla and molasses aromas. This smells like a muted Bourbon County Stout.

T: The taste is a bit more like KBS though. Dark flavors of chocolate/cocoa, coffee, and roasted malt. I get small amounts of vanilla and molasses but nothing like BCS.

M: Extremly thick and viscous as it covers the mouth and allows the finish to last for much longer than normal.

D: I see drinkability as the ability to drink more than 1 in a night OR the want to drink more in the future. I'd have this again but it's not high on my list. Glad I only got one in my package and got more BCS.

This would be great if it had a bit more flavors from the barrel aging. I'll say if you are a fan of KBS then you'll probably like this. It also has some of the aromas/flavors from BCS but highly muted. It's about in the middle of those two maybe leaning more towards KBS.

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Photo of erosier
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

L: Pours a deep black color with little to no head and very little lacing down the glass.
S: Smells of deep roasted malts, some caramel aromas and a nice big whiskey aroma at the end.
T: Very thick and sweet tasting roasted malts with hints of caramel and chocolate and then a huge smooth whiskey flavor that has a tiny bit of bite at the end.
M: Very thick, smooth, warming, perfect amount of carbonation.
D: Pretty drinkable, especially for something that tastes so much like bourbon and has 12% abv.

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Photo of akorsak
3.7/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to hwwty4 for this 12 oz bottle.

A: The stout is a dark black color that pours with little head.

S: Chocolate and sweet bourbon battle for prominence. Vanilla, oak and alcohol play a big role in the nose.

T: Vanilla beans and cocoa powder drive the flavor. Woody oak amplifies the vanilla. Roasted grains and coffee linger behind the bourbon. The range of flavors run their course in a short period of time, leaving only the dark stout elements in a short period of time. Vanilla does pair with the roasted flavors in the finish.

M: Lots of vanilla up front, this ale isn't afraid of its barrel origins. It doesn't taste like a 12% monstrosity.

D: While it doesn't weigh heavily on the taste, the 12% price tag is a tough one to really swallow. The bourbon is good, not great.

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Photo of alovesupreme
4.12/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks Thomashardy for the extra.
Pitch black with a petite dark brown head.
BOURBON. Raison, chocolate and a hint of soysauce. An excellent malt finish.
The few bubbles that made their homes in this thick liquid moved very slowly. This beer coats your tongue and does not let up.
A great beer that I would like to enjoy again.

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Photo of chicagobeerriot
3.55/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into tulip glass. Pours very dark brown (just a shade lighter than some of the strongest impys). Dark tan head that rapidly dissipates to a few persistant wisps that stay on the surface. Great true bourbon smell with the classic vanilla, toffee and oak smells right up front. First flavors to hit you are the sweet caramel and bourbon flavors. Not quite as bourbon-forward as GI BCS, but still satisfies. Hides its 12% ABV quite well. Doesn't have enough of the coffee / roasted malt flavor that typically provides balance for the style. This leaves an odd sour taste at the finish that, after a strong showing so far, is a sad note to end on.

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Photo of Vonerichs
3.67/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had this on tap at Payton's Roundhouse.

Poured a deep brown with no head. Served in a snifter.

Heavy smells of bourbon, wood, and smoke. There is also a light coffee scent.

The bourbon is very noticable, as is a smokey almost burnt tasting malt. Typical coffee and chocolate flavors are present, but not pronounced. It has a very interesting bourbon profile that is the focus.

The body is thick and creamy, but extremely dry on the palate and forced me to order a glass of water to keep my tongue from shriveling up.

Needless to say, the dryness made this hard to get through, plus it sits rock heavy in the gut. The smokey flavor gets worn out quick, too.

Overall, very interesting and huge on flavor, but also extremely hard to get through just one because of the mouthfeel and weight.

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Photo of pmcadamis
2.82/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

A - This deep, deep brown brew lets no light through it's murky depths, while the head is thick, luscious, and dense. The head is a very dark shade of brown, and the cocoa powder lace sticks all over the snifter.

S - I can smell bourbon and brown sugar before I even get anywhere near the glass. Up close, I smell shredded and sweetened coconut, black strap molasses, brown sugar, sweet bourbon BBQ glaze, and a hint of terryaki (sp?) sauce. Nutella, woody-ash, marzipan, and what almost smells like clove cigarette smoke. This smells wonderfully like a fatty steak glazed in sugary coconut-bourbon sauce, enjoyed with a snifter of bourbon, and finished with a nice cigar. Outstanding.

T - Smoky and a bit sour. This is REALLLY smoky. I'm not even kidding, this is like a super-rauchbier or something. The smoke here, though seems artificial... like sipping a bottle of "bottled smoke" that you use in meat marinades. I normally love smoked beers, and this one isn't terrible but it is way off base compared to the exquisite nose. Smoke, ash, soy sauce, and a sour lactic note that is way out of place.

M - Full bodied, but thinner than it should be. This is RIDICULOUSLY dry and ashy, and the finish is really harsh. This might stand up well to an extremely full bodied maduro-wrapped robusto, but this seems like it would dominate almost any food or cigar.

D - Looks beautiful and smells like heaven, but what happened on the taste? I bought a four pack and I hate to say it, but I might use the other three as a nice smoky marinade for some brats or a couple-a steaks since it is now officially grilling season. I might try another one later today with an Alec Bradley "The Maxx" over-sized robusto (it's like 60 ring gauge!) I have a feeling that that fat-boy might stand up to this formidably nasty brew..

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.7/5  rDev +23%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer has a pitch black body of opaque liquid with a thick creamy dark tan head that last as a thick ring and sticks to the glass with each sip. The beer is too dense to see any carbonation except for a few random tiny bubbles sliding up the edge of the glass.

S- This beer has big chocolate roasted malt aromas wit oaky bourbon and a flowery vanilla aroma that grows with each sip. The aroma is strong even during the pour, and makes me just want to sniff and sniff the beer.

T- The roasted bitterness of black malt has a creamy chocolate velvety flavor with some slightly sweet vanilla notes to follow. There is a nice full bourbon and oak flavor with the oak growing into a cream and butterscotch pudding flavor as it warms. There is a bitter bite from the black grain at the end that finishes the beer nicely.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with some alcohol heat that compliments the flavor nicely and a creamy texture that really gives this a nice mouthfeel.

D- This beer is delicious. It is quite the sleeper, rich complex malts with a great big barrel flavor and a wonderful smell that can keep me sniffing for days. The black roast blends great with the alcohol making this a perfect winter sipper.

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Photo of jasonjlewis
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

4.0-good 1 ½ finger head, good retention viscous dark brown color
4.0 STRONG bourbon aroma undertones of vanilla and licorice. No real roasted characteristic to speak of. Sort of a chocolatey, vanilla bourbon smell that dominates.

4.5 smooth bourbon flavor with undertones of chocolate, vanilla, and licorice. It takes all the astringency of drinking bourbon liquor away. Very unique flavor profile. The bourbon really dominates.

4.5 smooth and creamy mouthfeel

4.5 Good job at keeping the fusel alcohols low. Nice smooth big stout. Well done.

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Photo of ballewblake
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my Duvel tulip from 12oz bottle.

Two finger coco head on a dark brown body. Head falls fairly quick leaving little lacing. Lacing is weak on the glass, doesn't stick. Minor head through the drink with a low foam around the glass. You can smell the bourbon and oak flavors in this, followed by some malty stout notes. Taste is off for me, almost astringent, maybe its the semi low carbonation. Sweet, chocolaty, mild notes from the bourbon, but very hard to really point out. I couldn't tell you the bourbon if I tried. Mouthfeel is really good, I dig the carbonation and body of the brew. Drinkability would work great for anyone that digs RIS's, though not the smoothest one I've sampled. If readily aviable, I'd prolly grab this one on occasion.

Picked this up at West Lakeview Liqours in Chicago.

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Photo of jwc215
4.22/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Tattorso for this one!

Pours opaque/pitch black...can see my reflection perfectly off the glass! The brown head builds, then stays a bit before descending to a thin cover. The cover eventually becomes a few islands. Not much lacing, but "legs" do stick.

The smell is of a very nice bourbon (checked out website, but don't know which one was used - will call during the week to find out, if I remember.) Regardless, it is used correctly - it smells of bourbon that has strong vanilla notes mixed with a stout that had strong chocolate and earthy, dried dark fruits, with a hint of cinnamon (from oak? or alcohol?) coming through. This is the smell of a nice bourbon/stout mix.

The taste, while very nice, does take a hit because of the water that is mixed in. It has chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, musty oak. Delicious! There is water, though it doesn't seem to change the taste, just softens it. It has a nice balance of sweet, with some sour fruit, and a touch of bitter. Alcohol is very well-hidden in the taste. Finishes with a soft dryness.

The body is on the thin side. But, then - it adds to drinkability. It is not syrupy, sticky or thick. I checked out the abv on the website. It is stated as 12%. Not in the taste or feel...maybe in effect...It is carbonated, though it is not fizzy.

The body does add to its "dangerously drinkable" aspect. This is a great bourbon-barreled stout with characteristics of both (Bourbon and American Stout) showing!

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4.63/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to brewcrew76 for throwing this in.
Poured a deep, deep brown almost black, much burnt motor oil with a big tannish head and excellent carbonation. This brew looked damn good! Nose is bourbon upfront, cocoa, roasted malts, vanilla. Taste is bourbony and boozy good, not so boozy as to be obnoxious either. I thought it was very well balanced and the taste followed the nose. Mouthfeel is nice, wanted a little more thickness to it but damn good. Exceptional beer!

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Photo of Gehrig
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Impenetrable black body like motor oil with a finger of tan foam with amaretto drizzle that fades quickly; little lacing. Nice aromas of bourbon, oak, and vanilla that also dominate the taste, with no shortage of berry present, either. What impresses me about the taste is that although the bourbon pervades this DIS, living up to its name, the level sweetness is somewhat unexpected. Very nice and smooth, well balanced, malt heavy--well done all around. More of a sipper.

Well worth the grab. Not spectacular but very solid.

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Photo of seaoflament
3.66/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Jay for the opportinity to try this beer.

Poured at about cellar temp. VERY Dark beer! Ink black with about three inches of foam to top it off. Not much lacing but very good retention.

Oooof, a strong bourbon aroma upfront, alcohol, wood, dark fruits, vanilla, caramel, and toast. At first there is a very strong bourbon and alcohol character on the nose but as the beer breathes it tones down and the sweetness of the malts begin to shine, as well as the vanilla from the oak. There is a sweet cookie aroma that mixes well with the vanilla, bourbon soaked raisins, cherries, and some cocoa powder. Toasted and slightly nutty malts. Good aroma but it tones down after a few minutes and is not as intense as when it was first poured.

Roasted barley dominates the first sip with a slightly dry finish and a bit of bitterness but mid-palate there is some chocolate malts and dark fruits that balances out the roastiness very well. A bit of black cherry and cocoa in the finish. Sweet raisin in the aftertaste. When I first poured the beer I was afraid that it would be very alcoholic and hot but that in not the case at all, it is very smooth and well balanced. A little vinous and it might be the fruity alcohol flavor. A little more chocolate but more like cocoa, it feels dry, and a bit of coffee too. The bitterness moves from the front to the end of the palate, only enough to balance out the beer. Very good but I feels like it could use a little more flavor in the middle as most of the flavor seems to be in the finish and aftertaste.

Smooth on the palate, softly carbonated, but it finishes a bit thin.

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Photo of Vancer
4.4/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

No dating or abv on the production label of a stately crown burned into barrel slats. Guess this is now in production as their "Signature Series".

Pure black as night pour of rich motor oil, still manages to pop up a nice inch of tan head in the Corsendonk tulip. Sheets of lace slide down the glass.

But the aroma, my, are we on to something - sweet cherry bourbon mash with a dose of malt and vanilla. And good Lord, this is bourbon beer in a glass - guessing Jim Beam, my favorite, for the barrels. When one picks up a bottle with "Bourbon Barrel" on the label, wtf would ya expect?

One bummer ; body was on the thin side.

First beer from this brewery and only picked up one bottle from Corral Liquors - GOTTA get some more of this great beer.

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Photo of roadhouse
3.92/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a snifter.

Appears jet black and completely opaque with a one inch tan head that only showed up because of a vigorous pour. It sinks down to a bubbly skim and leaves a bit of spotty lacing.

Aromas of bourbon, vanilla, dark chocolate, and a light tone of coffee. Very nice.

The taste doesn't quite live up to the smell in depth but it presents notes of the bourbon right up front followed by some chocolate tones and the vanilla but there is also an odd sort of tart cherry flavor that seems a little off towards the finish. The finish itself has a little bit of coffee flavor as it dries out and the bourbon lingers on.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, not quite as thick as I was hoping it to be based on the pour but it has a nice creamy texture to it.

Overall, this one was pretty good and about where I expected it to be when I bought it. I'd say it's worth a shot, but don't go and expect anything like Bourbon County Stout.

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Photo of deereless
4.05/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: The color of obsidian, as dark as coal, the thinnest of heads which is an espresso brown color - 4.50, S: Long before putting this under my nose, I'm catching wisps of some significant fragrances including hints of bourbon, under my nose this beer emits strong bourbon as well as a nice oak aroma - 4.75, T: Lots of chocolate and black malt, some bitter espresso, noticeable hops, some strong acidity on the end which reminds me of a dry red wine, the bourbon is up front and very pleasing - 4.25, M: My only true negative on the beer is the mouthfeel, it is deceptively thin and un-stout like, it really takes away from the enjoyment of the beer, a little gritty - 3.25, D: Overall this is an exceptional beer, but when I stack it up against Goose Islands version of the bourbon stout it falls short on a couple of fronts, I would recommend this beer - 4.25

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Photo of hopdog
4.37/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle.

Poured a dark black color with a small sized brown head. Aromas of bourbon, vanilla, wood, chocolate, and roast. Tastes of bourbon, vanilla, caramel, wood, and some dark fruits lurking in the background. Definitely a bourbon barrel aged beer - and I'm still a sucker for those! I found the alcohol content to be fairly well hidden. The body was a little on the thin side.

Notes from 7/20/08

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Photo of OStrungT
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a very dark brown, almost black color. It boasts a thin brown head that fades a little too fast, leaving a decent lacing.

This beer has a mellow Bourbon aroma. It smells slightly oaky, with a mild vanilla aroma. It has a mild chocolate aroma as well. Some dark fruit mixes in also.

This beer tastes much like it smells. Bourbon, and vanilla. Some oak, and dark fruits. Very mild flavors, but also very complex. Nice.

This beer is full bodied. It goes down smooth, leaving a bourbon like aftertaste. It is very thick. It is low in alcohol, suiting the style.

This beer may not make the best session beer because of the undoubtedly high alcohol content, but it sure does taste good, and I could drink it all night.

Overall: Thanks go to Orbitalr0x for generously sending me this beer. Unlike some other reviews, I dont think the Bourbon aroma is over the top at all. I think it is mellow. I like this one, and am very pleased to have had the opportunity.

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Photo of bluemoonswoon
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First thing I said after sniffing this beer: wow...not a WOW! or a whoa, a plain wow followed by a slight pause to sniff again. The last time I tried to review this beer I had a stuffy nose, this time I'm free and clear and glad I didn't review this beer back then.

Comes out of the bottle like most good imperial stouts should, glugy (you know...glug glug glug, like that, like used motor oil...come on! you know what i mean!) and black. Followed by a cascading, root beer float like head.

Big on bourbon and vanilla (this is the quiet wow factor folks) bit of oak, char, and caramel, but just massive massive amounts of bourbor a beer to have. Goose Island probably would think this is excessive...and I think this is what hurts the beer in the end.

Again bourbon, that's first and foremost and really, really likes to make its presence felt throughout the entire tasting, almost (and actually, probablly) to the behest of other flavors. Still there is a good amount of oakiness that comes out in the very long finish, along with a slow, warming, hop bitterness. Also quite a bit of tobacco in the finish as well. Thick, coating mouthfeel, could stay with you for days if you have bad hygine.

It's really hard for me to put my finger on this beer. It has the punch you in your face, wood aged, bourbon quality that so many other/rarer beers are lauded for, but it just doesn't quite seem up to muster. It's good but there is just too much bourbon here, texture is lacking in the mouthfeel and a bit too sweet and hot to be a truely earth stopping beer. Still I like a lot of what is going on here. A very suprising beer to say the least.

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Photo of PatronWizard
4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to orbitalr0x for tossing this into our trade.

Pours one of the darkest heads ever. Very brown. And the fluid is green of course. Fine bubbled marshmellow head.

More dark chocolate than anything else in the nose. Cocoa too. Maybe coffee.

Deep bitter biting chocolate assault man. Can't detect the bourbon, but I'll monitor the situation closely as she warms up. Like I always do.

Very smooth. I think I'm getting the bourbon way at the back. More as a warming sensation than as flavor. Nice big sipper.

Overall: good stuff

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Photo of Goliath
3.27/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours black and completely opaque with a very thin coffee colored head. Poor retention and no lacing.

The aroma is fairly obnoxious. As soon as I popped the cap I was overwhelmed with the aroma of cheap bourbon, and it only intensified as I poured it into the glass. I'm kind of afraid to stick my nose in it. But definitely big bourbon notes, kind of oaky, and fairly roasty too. Some burnt chocolate and vanilla in the nose as well.

The taste is ok. Huge bourbon note all throughout, which is slightly sweet. A nice bit of oak as well with some big roasty malts. Bitter chocolate dominates with a touch of vanilla. I was hoping for some coffee but I'm not really getting any. Not as bad as I thought it would be after my initial experience with the aroma.

The mouthfeel is medium, but pushing full bodied and slightly creamy. Lightly and finely carbonated accentuates the beer and makes for a pretty decent mouthfeel.

Drinkability is on the low end. The beers flavors are decent, but it certainly has some rough edges. The bourbon notes are strong and the oak seems fairly young. It's a bold beer, and a decent attempt which I can appreciate. I would have liked to see more depth of flavor though with some varying profiles in the malt and I would also liked to have seen the bourbon turned down a notch.

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Photo of maximum12
3.32/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Picked up a four-pack of this beer I'd never seen before during a September visit to Chicago & stuffed it into socks & shoes for the flight home. Was it worth it?

Well. This beer is definitely classified wrong - I believe it should be "Bourbon Aged in Imperial Stout Barrels" because holy bourbon-ass, man. The bourbon smell is overpowering, as is the taste, wiping out any trace of the brew. I think this could have easily been a bourbon barrel-aged hefeweizen & it wouldn't taste much different. Mouthfeel is flat, boozy, with no head & little in the way of carbonation. Couldn't drink more than one of these, & as is, I'd like to have about six ounces of it rattling 'round with a couple ice cubes in a tumbler. With some Ronnie Milsap on the radio & the screen door banging in the wind.

Not bad if you like bourbon, but too one-dimensional. I'll leave the others rest in their bottles for a spell to see if it moderates any.

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4.18/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I actually have to sip off the top of the growing head as it reaches four fingers and over the top of the glass. Spots of lace are left behind. Body is pure total blackness. Nose has distinct bourbon notes with hints of toffee, raisens, vanilla and dark cherry alchol. The alchol is a bit hot as it wraps around burnt malt, slightly soured dark fruit and anise with first sip. The palate is really painted with blackness and stays with a more bitter than sour feel on the back of the tongue. The bourbon feel is there in the hot alchol throughout. This brew would benefit from some time in the cellar. Solid drinkability now and especially as it warms to room tempature.

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Photo of Yesac
3.79/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Got this on trade from jwinship83 - thanks!

A - Nice and black, medium brown foamy head that doesn't fade much and lastes throughout the session. The head also laces the glass evenly. I'm impressed.

S - strong smokey bourbon smell

T - right along with the smell, a smokey bourbon taste. Finishes dry and watery.

M - Light and frothy - very unique. The carbonation this head sweeps the palate clean, also unique.

D - A good sipper here, the bourbon taste isn't to overboard and there isn't a super strong alcohol taste. One would be enough for me.

This one was pretty impressive, the appearance and mouthfeel really surprised me. I'm not to keen on a smokey/bourbon stout but this one I can handle.

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Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout (Signature Series) from America's Brewpub
3.82 out of 5 based on 80 ratings.
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