Berkshire Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale | Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.

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Berkshire Bourbon Barrel Scotch AleBerkshire Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale

Brewed by:
Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
Massachusetts, United States

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by connecticutpoet on 11-15-2007

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 136 |  Reviews: 113
Photo of OBIrish24
5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of jh1982
5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of AndyAvalanche
5/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow, can't believe I'm drinking this, I think it's my first ever whale and after all these years here I am drinking it. Huge shout out to JJ, thank you kind sir!

22 oz. bomber poured into my Berkshire Nortic Pint Glass. A fairly hard pour brings about a thick local eggshell colored head with very small bubbles. Great lacing. The liquid is darker than expected, sort of a mahogany brown, slightly hazy but you can still somewhat see through it. Looks like the carbonation has been affected over the years, but great looking beer all around.

Smells outstanding. Grain bill is perfect here. Hearty brown bread drizzled with natural honey, figs, plumbs,dates and some dehydrated apples with the skins. Hint of both sweet, smokey, and earthy wood on the back end.

Best tasting Scotch Ale I've ever had, hands down. All of the above mentioned aromas translate into the flavor department. There is just a plethora of flavors going on here. Hearty bready, with some earthy fruitiness. The only difference is that the apple skin flavors make me think of red apples where the aromas make me think it could be any apple skin, either way it's nothing to complain about. Excellent balance of sweetness and bitterness. Somehow this beer manages to be slightly smokey without it being overwhelming in any way, even if you don't like smokey beers (which schotch ales should have on some level) this beer is still for you.

Mouthfeel is great. It's sort of a heavy medium feel. Great balance with it being difficult to determine whether it's more sweet than bitter or vice versa because this beer is big all around. Pretty smooth with just the right amount of earthy bitterness at the finish and also some warmth at the end. Great drinkability, I'm crushing this even though I'm trying to savor it.

Overall there is absolutely nothing not to like about this beer other than it's not more readily available. This beer has been retired for quite some time now, and I believe it is about 8 years old at this point. Hats off to Berkshire, I think they should brew it again if they can. Well done. Another shout out to JJ, you're the man for this hookup, my first white whale!

 2,189 characters

Photo of mgbickel
5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of celeriac
5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of thebouch01
5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of mschofield
5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of AdamB84
5/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The beer was aged using the 4 bourbon barrels that were hand picked by the Julio's staff from Buffalo Trace Distillery (Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, Pappy Van Winkle 15, and Weller). It was then blended to create Julio's own Berkshire Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale.

Bought a case of this very tasty brew. Only a few here it goes

A: Pours a dark, hazy brown with hints of red. Little to no head

S: Strong aroma of bourbon and vanilla with a little bit of wood.

T: Amazing taste, very malty and creamy. Hints of caramel and vanilla. An amazing blend, blended to perfection. From experience with other barrel aged beers (mostly Jack and Jim) there is a very pungent taste, but you can tell that the barrels were from very taste bourbons. Not overpowering at all.

M: So smooth, silky, creamy. Amazingly smooth.

D: Very well balanced and very tasty. Such a great taste and so smooth and silky body. Could definently have a few of these

Overall this beer was amazing the texture and aromas from the beer was amazing. You could definently tell that by using such higher quality barrels makes this beer! Congrats Joe and the rest of the guys at Julio's!

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Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of connecticutpoet
4.97/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From Julio's Liquors email newsletter:

"Berkshire Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale

Brewed exclusively for Julio's Liquors
by Berkshire Brewing Company

This beer begins with the rich malty taste of scotch ale then aged in 4 unique bourbon barrels!


The beer was aged using the 4 bourbon barrels that were hand picked by the Julio's staff from Buffalo Trace Distillery (Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, Pappy Van Winkle 15, and Weller). It was then blended to create Julio's own Berkshire Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale!!"

This beer was medium brown and very hazy, with a two finger creamy head consisting of very small bubbles. It subsided slowly, to a thin layer of foam that refused to go away..

Upon opening, the air around me was filled with the wondrous scent of bourbon, sweet and smooth.

The aroma was a tremendous malt bomb, with notes of dark fruits and brown bread, earthy and slightly sweet. A persistent bourbon overtone lingered.

The taste was sweet dark fruits and rich dark malt, with a hint of toffee. Oak tannins were prominent, and the flavor of bourbon tied it together VERY well.

Mouthfeel was incredibly smooth, Carbonation was minimal, but present.

Drinkability... OMFG this stuff goes down so easily, it is dangerous!!! It doesn't act like a high ABV going down, but a few moments after swallowing an amazing warmth spreads out from my belly.

I talked to Joe, the beer manager, about this beer. I picked up six. They may do this again with another beer, if this goes well. From what I have tasted, this is an unmatched success. I had BBC's Jack Daniels Imperial Stout on tap, and it was wonderful... but this blows it away with its smoothness and ease of drinking.

Damn, I am glad I work near Julio's, even though it's a hell of a commute.

Guess what, Joe? I did review it first!

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Photo of levifunk
4.8/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I was planning on opening this bottle for my birthday. Invited a few friends over, and what do you know Chris (seeswo) brought over a bottle as a gift. Cheers man!

Poured into a thistle glass. Gotta do it right!

s - this beer smells amazing. Oak and vanilla are there from the bourbon barrel, but it isn't overpowering. Caramel sweetness and ester.

t - I've had most every Bourbon Barrel aged Scotch Ale out there and this is by far the most balanced. Scotch ales are so sweet and high in ABV to begin with that the bourbon barrel aging tends to be too much. This has certainly benefited from age, but also the bourbon isn't overpowering....although is definitely predominant. The Scotch ale underneath is very good as well. Caramel sweetness, dark fruits, and a healthy amount of roasted malts.

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Photo of mbrandon2w
4.71/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a tulip.
Appearance is a hazy, dark brown...not overly appealing really. Aroma is very nice: toffee, caramel, vanilla and whiskey. Mouthfeel is very smooth and creamy, a surprisingly easy sipper.
The taste is exceptional. A blend of vanilla and caramel hits up front with a warm, whiskey finish at the end. The 9.2% alcohol is very well-hidden in the taste, but you definitely feel its effect towards the end of the glass.
Wish they had this all winter long

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Photo of YonderWanderer
4.7/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a dark, hazy brown with hints of red. No head and practically no lacing. A little bit of carbonation is evident.

S: Oak, vanilla, bourbon all come through in the mix. Nicely blended.

T: This is fantastic. I've never been a fan of scotch ales, but this one may have won me over. The bourbon is definitely present, lending a nice kick to it. The oak is also definitely a strong factor, with shades of vanilla coming through in a wonderful manner. This is damn good.

M: Smooth, almost a hint of creaminess to it. But just smooth, from start to finish.

D: Despite the high ABV, this is a delicious beer, very well balanced and very tasty. I could definitely drink this over and over again!

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Photo of Estarrio
4.69/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I'm finally around to my last bottle and my sole regret is that I don't have any more enjoy.

Poured a translucent, ruddy brown with a small, coffee-colored head. The head quickly recedes to modest lacings.

This brew smells nothing short of amazing. Huge malt aroma with chocolate, caramel vanilla and toffee. An earthy presence of wood and peat are detectable before the sweet smell of bourbon consumes the senses. The aromas are huge, enjoyable and well balanced.

Big, chewy malt flavor. Cocoa powder, mildly astringent coffee, smoky peat and a drizzle of vanilla entice the taste buds. A suggestion of oak is discernible before the sweet taste of bourbon becomes predominant but not over-bearing. The booziness shows in the finish but is well-masked overall. Again, I am utterly amazed at how balanced and big this beer can be at the same time.

This is a full bodied brew with ample carbonation to lend to a fizzy creaminess. This beer is dangerously drinkable. I saved most of my bottles for special occasions (a big hit on Thanksgiving!) but I could have easily had a few friends over devoured the goodness in one session. This last bottle was hard to hold on to for so long!

Many kudos to the Julio's staff (who hand picked the bourbon barrels) for showing their passion with this beer. Big ups to Berkshire for continuing to "wow" me. I'm looking forward to visiting the brewery this weekend and will visit Julio's on the way back. I can't wait to try the next collaboration!

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Photo of mdwalsh
4.67/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Mothman for this one, which was a reward for helping him with Darkness

Beautiful looking beer with a good head and nice dark robust amber brown coloring.

The bourbon was on the smell, as was a little oak, but mostly fantastic malty scothness. Hints of vanilla.

Helloooo Vanilla. This was like cream soda made by God. Honestly. Amazing. Malty, vanilla-y, bourbony goodness.

Smooth and easy going, just a hint of carbonation

Danger. Very dangerously drinkable.

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Photo of ccrida
4.67/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber (thx MacDomer!) poured into my Delirium snifter, Berkshire's Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale is garnet with a creamy tan head that leaves scattered foam.

Smell is dominated by the bourbon, some coconut and vanillin from the wood, with a nice sweetness from the grain. I really like the bourbon, the caramel sweetness plays well with the wood, but it's not at all hot, not even ethanol let alone fusels.

Taste is very nice, very vinous, the lush malt, bourbon and oak are very well integrated (I think I've cellared this for about 6-8 months, and am not sure how old it was pre-trade, but it seems like a fairly new looking embossed bottle). Tough to get much of the nuances of the nice malt base in a fine wee heavy due to the barrel character, it could be any type of well made strong ale, but the fact is, it's delicious. I'm like the hint of grape that I'm getting that flirts with a Belgian ester. Awesome beer, sper smooth.

Mouthfeel is slick, smooth, fine, soft carbonation, off-dry.

Drinkability is excellent. I'm really impressed with this beer. I will seek this out again on my travels, and recommend fans of bourbon barrel strongs do the same.

 1,162 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
4.65/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Believe it or not, I had been sitting on some of this for a good long time and had never gotten around to opening my bottle. I had tried this one once before, at the Foothills release, some was passed around, and I thought it was wonderful, but I did not have enough to really give it a fair shot. Last night I decided to open it up and give it the attention it deserved.

Appearance - The pour was spot on for the style and utterly great looking. A deep dark chestnut brown liquid came guzzling out of the bottle and layered inside the glass with a decent amount of haze. Some very nice carbonation rising up from the bottom of the glass. A nice off white head formed almost immediately and reached a height of close to 2 fingers, before settling down to a nice crown shape and leaving copious silky lace all over the sides. This was about as big as I could picture the style looking and really just nice overall.

Smell - The aroma was Bourbon Barrel Heaven@! This had to be the strongest smell of bourbon I have ever had come off of a beer. I mean it literally swallowed you up and spit you back out. It was that intense. The barrel aged just came across beautiful, with loads of wood and spices. Really well put together and one of the fullest aromas I have found. Some light grain hiding in the back and the alcohol as well was prominent. Nevertheless, if I had to come up with an idea of how a Barrel Aged Scotch Ale should smell this would be it.

Taste - Picking up right where we left off, the flavor was knocking down awesome as well. The first notes to hit you are overwhelming, almost drowning in Bourbon. You really need to let this come up a few degrees to get the full complexity of it. Once you do, some very nice earthy flavors come out at you as well as just wonderful hints of raisins, and wood. Very nice finish, with caramel malts and roasted tones coming through fantastically. Really just tremendous depth in here as this was just flat out awesome.

Mouthfeel - The feel was damn perfect. Really just a phenomenal smooth and delicious beer. Great carbonation never let you really have a dull moment and the silky smooth feel of it really left you just wanting to come back for more.

Drinkability - This was a sipper for sure, and to be honest you really needed to warm this up to let the full depth of it come out. It was utterly fantastic when warmed and made the perfect late night companion.

Overall, I thought this had to be one of the best examples of barrel aging I have seen. Really just, well done, and very fresh. May need to cellar this to really get to appreciate the depth of it. I cannot wait to try one in a few years to see how it held up. If you are a fan of bourbon beers, you are going to need to pick this one up.

 2,757 characters

Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.65/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

occasionally I'll hear of a beer and splurge site unseen, reviews unknown. this was one of them. I drove to Julio's (3 hours round trip) and stocked up on beer, this as well. suffice to say I should've bought twice as many as I did.

A - slightly hazy deep burgundy with a long lasting incredibly thick tan head

S - first wiff off the bottle - strong bourbon. first wiff off the glass once the head settled down - moderated silky bourbon, oak, vanilla and sweet underlying caramel malts

T - bouron notes, vanilla, oak, toffee, caramel round out an amazingly well blended taste. each flavor seems to compliment and blend with the other in a sweet symphony tastes.

M - medium - full bodied, creamy smooth, nicely carbonated, heavenly aftertaste.

D - So smooth, so well put together that it belies the 9.2% abv. Satisfying and one of those great beers that makes you look forward to each sip and regret reaching the end.

Did I mention as well that my hat goes off to them for avoiding the jim beam barrels? Even the choice of barrels for aging this has created a recognizable yet distinctive taste.

 1,101 characters

Photo of PEBKAC
4.64/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The last of the stash. What patience. Sat on this for two years+. My favorite scotch ale to date. Thanks Hougabooms. Thanks Al. Thanks Chris. :)

Actually, I was a little worried about souring, considering that the imperial stout released the following year went ugly in just a few short months. Very thankful that this didn't turn.

Opened this one up around 7:30am while waiting for the doors to open at Southampton. Was warm enough to ditch the gloves even. Rounded pint glass. Shared 3 ways.

Recent bottle mixed with old notes:

Mahogany-colored brew, but darker maybe. Not quite clear, but no floaties either. Short lived inch of tan head, kept alive by a constant swirl.

Lightheartedly smoked peat, maple, bourbon, brown sugar, & some lactose(to me anyway). Alcohol is a bit shy, hidden underneath all that sugar, contradicting some other reviews.

Tea & sweet bourbon up top. Tobacco. Vanilla & a slight barrel twang that I needed help discovering. Some interesting amaretto-like nuances that maybe made me miss the twang at first. Not as sweet as it smells.

Carbonation fell apart half way through the glass, though it was decent at the start. Feel has some heft to it, but was overall a touch thin. Alcohol was as advertised, & not much of a deterrent honestly.

I love this beer & will miss it so.

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Photo of Beertracker
4.62/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Berkshire BB Scotch Ale pours up with a modest carbonation that creates a low, very sustainable creamy beige colored head that just rings the deep chestnut brown-russet body. The clarity suffers from a bit of chill-haze, but becomes brighter as it warms. The aroma is rich & fruity with an abundant caramel-treacle character derived as much from the malts, as from a long, vigorous boiling process. There's a huge impression of bourbon with hints of charred wood, a leafy earthiness & some peat bog smokiness that emerges as the beer warms in hand along with an intermingly of oxidative notes that adds to the overall complexity. The malt dominated flavor starts off with some nuttiness followed closely by a pleasant fruitiness (plum preserves, mince meat pie, ripened fig) then becomes richer as the kettle carmelization becomes more apparent before being undercut by some hops that creates a lingering, bittersweet finish that shows great depth, complexity & warmth. This is one fine fireside tipple, so here's to the boys from South Deerfield!

SLAINTE! Beertracker

*Trader's Note: Thanks to Damian for this bottle of goodness!

 1,134 characters

4.62/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An active three finger fuzzy tan head explodes atop a blackest brown body. Head quickly fades to just a half inch leaving a bit of dot scattered lace. Bourbon tones are huge on the nose with intertwined carmel sweet malts, and sweet toasty banana bread. Sweet smoothness enters the mouth on first sip. I must say Scotch ales take to barrel agging in bourbon so extremely well. Lovely balance with huge spicey malt zest, biscuit like sweet doughy notes that stay thick on the back of the tongue. Mouthfeel is thick making you want the next sip. Incredibly drinkable very well done scotch ale. This was one of the best scotch ales I have ever had. I wish there was more available to be had.

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Photo of BasementDweller
4.62/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'll start by saying that I wasn't a huge fan of the original Berkshire Scotch Ale that was used as a base for this beer. I love my scotch ales, and Berkshire's variety lacked a little bit in body and smoke, favoring the alcoholic bite of a peaty scotch rather than the flavor. All that said, I am a very big fan of this most recent incarnation. Yes, the beer smells to high heaven of bourbon, and yes the barrel char is clearly present. But, you ask, is it overwhelming? Not in the least. The smoke that Berkshire's Scotch Ale lacks is very nicely supplemented in the Buffalo Trace, W.L. Weller, Eagle Rare, and Pappy Van Winkle bourbon casks. Bourbon drinkers will recognize the wonderful characters that come from each of these whisk(e)ys, the most prominent of which is the Eagle Rare. Call it stating the obvious, but when you age a scotch ale in a cask that contained a highly scotch-influenced bourbon, you should come out with a very consistent beer. This one is no exception. Now I'll admit that the last time I had Berkshire's Scotch Ale was six months ago, and my memory has faded a little bit, but I seem to remember that incarnation being cloyingly sweet and a little on the thin side. While still a bit thin, the Julio's Bourbon Scotch Ale has transformed the syrupy sweetness of the base brew into a more refined caramel malt sweetness. I'm amazed at the effect barrel aging has had on this once-mediocre beer, dredging life from the amber depths of a brew that I'd all but forgotten. Cheers to the crews at Julio's Liquors and Berkshire for a much-needed beer revival!

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Photo of RickSawyer
4.62/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Thanks Johneee for this wonderful throwin. Spreading the love. Pours a ruby mahogany brown. Creamy toffee head rises well and hold a nice thick disk afloat the beer. Smell is sweet bourbon, big prune, some leather, sweet maple syrup and cherries. Taste is bourbon, roasted cashew, leathery strawberry sweetness... really, strikes me as having a lot of Madeira characteristics with a roasty, maple sweet malt background. Extremely complex. The bourbon is wonderful. I can see it as being a bit much for non bourbon fans, but this is an amazingly well crafted brew. Mouthfeel is creamy and coating. Leaves a wonderful aftertaste of bourbon and sweetness. Highly recommended.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.62/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Many thanks to nflmvp for tossing this as an extra. Split this with Chris for breakfast on day 3 of our epic tasting

A: Gorgeous light ruby-crimson with ruby highlights. Thin beige head that recedes to a patchy disk. Great clarity and carbonation

S: Crisp and clean bourbon character with a great balance between the bourbon and the caramel, toffee and butterscotch aromas. Rich and nutty but refreshing too.

T: Excellent. Opens with a great bourbon note that's moderate in flavor. There's some oak with a pleasant amount of vanilla. This is followed by the base scotch ale flavor that are excellently balanced - toffee, nuttiness, butterscotch. Finishes sweet with a hint of vanilla and bourbon. Great stuff

M: Excellent body - not too heavy, not too light, soft carbonation and a great finish. Perfect

D: All too drinkable, this is an almost _refreshing_ bourbon barrel beer

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Photo of MrMonkey
4.57/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a murky brown with a one-finger tan head that recedes slowly to a sticky ring, leaving a few scattered wisps of lace.

The nose on this one is incredible: Oaky bourbon, toffee, burnt caramel, vanilla, and dried apricot.

Taste begins with some dried stone fruit (apricot and dark cherry) before some sweet caramel and toffee flavors. Oaky vanilla and sweet bourbon flavors last through the finish.

Medium-bodied mouthfeel with a low level of carbonation. Smooth and slightly viscous.

Extremely drinkable. Not even a hint of the ABV. Smooth and delicious. I wish I had a bunch more.

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Berkshire Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
4.3 out of 5 based on 136 ratings.
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