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 Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of jh1982
5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of mgbickel
5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of thebouch01
5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of AgentZero
3.58/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I wish people would stop making these beers so I could stop drinking them. Barrel Aged Scotch Ale, braced for yuck.

A - Caramel/amber colored beer with a bit of a beige head that faded to a fairly consistent cap and left some lace down the sides.

S - Thankfully not as peaty as a lot of these, I just can't get into the peatiness of the Scotch Ale for whatever reason, although I always liked peaty scotch, go figure. Some bourbon, little caramel and vanilla, molasses, and a hint of butter.

T - Tastes about like the nose, with the bourbon coming a little bit stronger than expected. Some decent caramel, vanilla, oak, barrel, molasses, butter. All mixed in there without getting too terribly sweet.

M - Fairly smooth with lower carbonation.

O - Not a bad beer, pretty easy to get down actually given that it's not a style I care for. Not bad.

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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 mdfb79
4/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 03/27/11 notes. Shared at a local DC tasting.

a - Pours a mahogany brown color with an inch of off white head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells light bourbon, oak vanilla, caramel malts, and some sugar or molasses. Smells a bit sweet.

t - Tastes of bourbon, oak, vanilla, caramel malts, molasses, toasted malts. More bourbon than the nose but not as sweet, a slight step up in my opinion.

m - Medium body and light to moderate carbonation.

d - Overall a very nice scotch ale. WOuld like to have again sometime.

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Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.35/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served on-tap at the Berkshire Brewing Co. in a plastic sample cup.

A: Poured a dark, mahogany brown color with a sudsy head of tan foam. Light brown and ruby highlights are shown off the brew.

S: Smells rich with a sweet phenol aroma. Like bourbon aged in wooden barrels.

T: A deep blend of rich, roasted caramel and toffee malts come through at first, with a slightly bitter malt and alcoholic flavor towards the middle. Lavish flavors of smoky, barrel-aged malts are the showcase of this robust wee heavy. A fine sipper indeed.

M: Mouthfeel is full bodied and quite smooth, despite a noticeable pinch from the alcohol.

D: A very fine sippin' brew and one that would make a great bomber to share as a dessert beer. Heavy handed malt profile with loads of smoky, liquor-like flavors and an ABV nearing 10% ensure a good investment for a beer worth relaxing with.

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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.

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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 msubulldog25
4.29/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle, sent in days of yore by BanditBrewingCo, and poured to a pint glass. 'Brewed Exclusively for Julio's Liquors' - no date. Poured at 'cellar temperature' = perfect.

Another fine silk-screened creation of a label by the folks at Berkshire; this one a bison stepping on a set of bagpipes, sandwiched between images of the two brewers. Sophisticated, yet quirky: yes.

A: Hazy with LOTS of hanging fallout, a fine but discernible 'snow globe' of hanging bits when held to light. Pour is a deep chestnut brown with a filtered shine of copper. Short eggshell head, creamy but less than a finger. Retention is only fair; a minute later there's just a hugging ring and a crescent of sheen. Good, but not great, lace - yet the warmer it gets, the more it seems to stick in torn sheets.

S: A 'WOW' aroma, bourbon is prevalent but used smartly. Sweet and woody, a dessert-like scent of peat and smoked wood and a naughty booziness. There's ample malt roast and a sugared nuttiness - all things I could smell all night, truth be told.

T: Starts with a -whew- bourbon-forward flavor, loads of spiced-barrel and grain/alcohol sweetness. As quickly, the vanilla/toffee notes of a fine Scotch Ale catch up; there's a dose of citrus and even the odd tang of ripe cherries, but the sweet and heavily malty cereal grain shines, with a brassy and sappy 'barrel' flavor underneath. Very, very good.

M: Creamy smoothness, a velvety silt that sticks a little yet thins given time. Medium body and a very stealthy alcohol warming.

D: Thanks to Alan for the chance to try this; I'd LOVE the chance to have more. Sure, the bourbon is a little forward, but -well- I like bourbon a lot, so no harm, no foul. Pretty drinkable, albeit not entirely traditional for a Scotch/Wee Heavy.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.1/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Received in a recent trade, part of my sisyphitic task of drinking the #1 beer for each style so here it goes! The current #1 Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy!

Beer is brown and hazy with a thin broken head that leaves some lacing on the glass.

Aroma is strong with bourbon, not much else. Smells like a bourbon beer.

Beer is thin and strong with bourbon. A dry finish. Its not as peaty as I expected. I"m drinking this a little too cold. As it warms the beer gets better and more complex. I like the beer, its really drinkable for a high alcohol beer. I would repeat it.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.22/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Pete for opening up a bottle of this at a tasting a while back. Reviewed from notes.

Pours a dark shade of amber with a bit of an off white head that sits with a tiny ring of lace throughout. Nose brings good chunks of bourbon and caramel malt along with notes of oak, vanilla, and molasses. Taste mixes the bourbon and a level of molasses-like dry sweetness quite well with some of the barrel aging present in addition to the bourbon. Feel is nice and smooth with lower levels of carbonation. Drinks well and I glad I got to try this--I love being surprised by beers I've never heard much about.

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Photo of nickd717
4.3/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bomber thanks to Arbitrator. Thanks to Arbi for another great -bal aged tick.

Pours a brilliant yet dark clear amber color with a one-finger off-white head that leaves a ring.

Sweet caramel and -bal aroma with a little peat smoke, toffee, bourbon, and toast.

The flavor is great, really complex and tasty if a little sweet. Sweet caramel and toffee malt notes, toast, -bal, vanilla, maple syrup, bourbon, maybe some fruits. Great beer, lots to it.

Smooth on the mouthfeel with only mild booziness and medium-low carbonation.

Really great -bal aged scotch ale. I should be getting the Gude Greg's version soon and I'm looking forward to it.

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Photo of maximum12
4.1/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Cakanator for sending me this, among other Berkshire brews, in a long-ago trade. Yes, it's the monthly installment of 'clean out the back of the fridge/cellar'. Split with my BA/Scotch Ale loving wife whilst watching the Twins paste the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALDS.

Pours with more floaties than the weird October Mississippi flood of 'aught ten, & a similar stirred, muddy, dark red color. Pretty flat. Smell is rich meeting of scotch, barrel, oak, & a particular lack of hype. Nice.

I wonder why Berkshire doesn't get more press, this is a tasty BA Scotch that's far enough under the radar to be burrowing - with an "A" rating at present. Delicious intersection of bourbon & that peculiar scotchiness of a good scotch ale, almost like a good mixed drink. All the requisite stuff is in here: loads of caramel, toffee, green shoots of vanilla, & a full half-cup or so of straight cane sugar dissolved in the mix (maybe that's the floaties).

I'm wavering, but this is an excellent brew, even long after it's release. Would have loved to have dug it out of the massive pile earlier, or had another long ago to compare it to, but beggars/choosers/etc. Miles better than the sadly infected Berkshire BA Imperial Stout. Love to see this one again.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.1/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle shared by Alex into a tulip...Pours a really light and watery brown, pretty clear. Light watery head is gone right away...The aroma is super strong way to much scotch from start to finish, comes across as black sharpie as well. Scotch, wood, and ash. Too strong to smell often...The taste comes across slightly less alcoholic showing off some of the bourbon qualities bringing in nice oak and a little vanilla. The scotch is still way to strong to make this at all drinkable.

Not sure how this is an A beer, roundly disparged at our tasting.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.36/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I think I got this from Reagan1984, but I can't totally remember. Served in a Lost Abbey rastal teku.

A - Pours with a half-finger of foam that quickly dissipates to a thin ring and some big bubbles. Transparent caramel brown.

S - Barrel, wood, fusel alcohol, harsh bourbon, burnt sugar, and some light smoke and char. This is nostril-singing and hasn't mellowed out at all.

T - Caramel, vanilla, light diacetyl, cotton candy, brown sugar, and tons of barrel. Less harsh than the nose, but still somewhat cloying.

M - Smooth medium-full body, with some obvious alcohol heat. Low carbonation, with a tannic dry finish.

D - It was a struggle to get through 4oz of this stuff. Way too sweet and boozy for my tastes, and I generally like most bourbon-barrel aged beers. Apparently I'm in the minority on this one...

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Photo of hoppymcgee
4.32/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Bill for this bottle! Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a tulip glass.

A: Dark brown with a small ring of white foam and not much lacing/stickiness.

S: The best feature of this beer. I was inundated with boozy woozy bourbon, toffee, vanilla, and walnuts.

T: Aged bourbon, oak, and caramel/candi sugars. I also get some tobacco and a slight prune flavor.

M: The carbonation held up well with age, but I'd say this is lacking a little body.

D: I didn't have a problem finising the bomber in 2 hours, but it may just be a tad sweet.

Overall, I prefer this second to none over most other scotch ales (besides Wet Willy).

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Photo of ckeegan04
4.54/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark mahogany with a huge frothy light-brown head. Thick sheets of lace left on the glass.

S - Very boozy aroma with strong notes of smoked malts and vanilla. Very malty. As it warms bits of wood come through as well.

T - Rich, malty tastes up front. Bourbon quickly comes through with lots of vanilla and an excellent warming. Caramel and a light smoked malt taste provide a good finish.

M/D - Medium to full bodied and very creamy. Carbonation is a bit high given the style. Moderate drinkability, the alcohol provides a nice warmth and it can sneak up on you.

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Photo of brentk56
3.82/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a mahogany color with a decent cap that leaves plenty of squiggles and dots around the snifter

Smell: Clearly the strong point of this beer, with a nice bourbon/vanilla aroma, a caramel base and a boozy warmth

Taste: Opens with the caramel and that pushes into the bourbon/vanilla range but by mid-palate, a tartness appears that verges on the sour; perhaps this is the aging process taking over in a bad way but it persists through the aftertaste and I probably would have scored this lower if the beer were younger

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation and considerable warmth in the gullet

Drinkability: Too bad about the tart/sour flavors as everything else about the beer was very nice; perhaps it was much better in its youth - my fault for cellaring it for so long

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.28/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Gordon Highland thistle goblet.

Big thanks to connecticutpoet for this bottle!

Something tells me that buffalo would not be able to play those bagpipes too well. But I could be wrong... Anyway, this brew pours a borderline clear deep garnet topped by over a finger of off-white foam. The nose instantly starts in on the bourbon, then moves into notes of toffee, oak, some light greens, and a pinch of brown sugar. The taste melds the wee heavy and bourbon factions nicely, providing some very tasty balance between the bourbon, oak, and hint of vanilla on the one hand, and the toffee, spruce, maple syrup, brown sugar, and greens on the other. The body is a hefty medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a smooth, somewhat chewy feel. Overall, a very nice, extremely well-balanced brew. i wish I had more than one. Get some!

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Photo of portia99
4.1/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle of the night in a group tasting, again broken out by jlindros. Poured into a Corsendonk tulip. Really glad to finally try this. I bought a ton of these and traded all away...only to walk into Julio's one day and find them all gone.

A - Pours a mostly clear dark brown with amber/red highlights around the edges. About a finger of tan foam with decent staying power.

S - Bourbon up front with a strong backup of caramel malts, light sugary sweetness, and some nice vanilla.

T - Definitely has bourbon as a major up front flavor component. As with the aroma, there is a bunch of caramel malts, a light sugary sweetness, straight malt, vanilla, and a surprising addition of a light but lingering hint of sour that comes on at the end of each sip and becoming more pronounced as the bottle progresses. Doesn't ever become overpowering or a focal point, but it is definitely noticeable and a mild detractor from an otherwise excellent tasting beer.

M - A bit on the thin side in body with a light/medium carbonation level that is smooth and doubt helped along by the vanilla-y flavors from the barrels. Surprisingly no heat at all from being in the bourbon barrels and the high alcohol level of the beer.

D - Very enjoyable BB aged beer. Nice addition of flavors from the barrel that complements the base beer very well. This is one of the cases where the sum of the parts exceeds the individual components for me. Hope another batch of this is in the BBC's future.

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Photo of alcstradamus
3.8/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Huge thanks to Jeff for the nice extra

Pours an effervescent brown with a finger of head. Aroma is sharp caramel maltiness and booze. Sweet and stinging. Some clove and a hefty amount of cardboard.

The flavor is quite rich, with a big sweet caramel and vanilla/oak kick followed by notes of oxidation and booze. The body is definitely too light for the style...not sure if the age or the barrel or a combination of the two thinned it out, but it isn't quite as full as I would like and the carbonation is a bit stingy.

Overall this is a very tasty beer. A bit messy, but in small doses it works well. I would be interested to try it a bit fresher and compare the two.

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Photo of alleykatking
4.45/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz bottle. Review from notes.

A- Poured a murky brown color. Nice red highlights in the beer when held to the light. One finger off white head that shows nice retention. Streaky lacing down the glass as I drank away.

S- First and foremost I could pick up the oaky bourbon right off the bat...smelled wonderful. Light toasted caramel and toffee malts. A semi-sweetness to the overall aroma. Some light vanilla undertones to this beer as well. Light darker fruits mixed in with molasses.

T- Nice kick of toffee and caramel malts mixing with vanilla on the front. This leads to a smooth oak barrel taste and hints of bourbon as well. Some light molasses mixed with raisins and cherries in the backing. The bourbon in this kind of comes in a second force with the ending. Overall, an amazing tasting beer.

M- Medium mouthfeel. Carbonation is a little light for the style I thought. Nice drying on the palate from the alcohol. Sweet malty tones left on the palate with a bourbon-y heat in the aftertaste. Flavors were well blended and did stand out on their own too when needed. Clean tasting with no oxidation or infection.

D- This is a fantastic beer that I wish I had more of. I am very impressed with how this one aged and is a hidden gem. I could see beer becoming the next it beer and rightfully so. Will be looking to get more of when I can.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.12/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep dark persimmon with a candy apple red influence and bright tangerine edges. The upper third of the glass is filled with an attractive chunk of toasted wheat colored foam that has plenty of persistence and does a pretty good job with respect to lace.

The scent of bourbon was easily appreciated as beer splashed into pint glass. It's less pungent now, but is inching back to its former glory as the suds continue to melt. The nose smells of dark toffee, rich earth and caramelized sugar.

BBC Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale is still wonderful beer approximately two years after its release. Having said that, it tastes and feels like it's a little past its peak. Then again, never having enjoyed a bomber before today, how would I know?

There's an underlying fruit-like tartness that would have been better as sweetness. It does, however, give the beer a tanginess that's present in some Islay Scotch whiskies. It's hard to fathom how aging BBSA in barrels that had previously held Buffalo Trace whiskey could have led to that.

Flavors include caramel-toffee, brown sugar, sticky dates, tart figs, a modest amount of toasted oak and a wee splash of vanilla. There's plenty of bourbon (without any actually booziness), so if you aren't a fan of that spirit you probably won't be a fan of the flavor profile. More malt and a bigger body would have garnered the next highest taste score with ease.

The mouthfeel is reminiscent of some aged English barleywines. That is, it's thinner than expected (and desired), but it's supremely smooth and lingers juuust long enough to be considered lightly syrupy... in a good way. Well-buried bubbles help the cause.

The craft beer world needs more bourbon barrel-aged Scotch ales. This isn't Berkshire's best offering (Coffeehouse Porter), but it's a lovely sipper that is aging more gracefully than most. Thanks to damienblack for the bottle.

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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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