Barrel Works Series: Sapsquatch | Southern Tier Brewing Company

Barrel Works Series: SapsquatchBarrel Works Series: Sapsquatch
38 Ratings
Barrel Works Series: SapsquatchBarrel Works Series: Sapsquatch

Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company
New York, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 14.90%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brewed with local maple syrup, aged in bourbon barrels and on oak. A complicated beast aged on a trio of oak.

Added by smutty33 on 04-21-2017

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 38 |  Reviews: 17
Photo of Greywulfken
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Brown ale produced just a few bubbles of head, and left a clean glass behind... One third of the beer is aged in bourbon barrels, one third in bourbon barrels that once held maple syrup, and one third aged on "hand-charred" oak staves that "spent time" in whiskey... Brewed with maple syrup, too... Boozy fruit and caramel-like molasses and maple and vanilla on the nose, followed by a big sweet booze and maple-fruit character on the sip... Medium-bodied, smooth, and slick, but not too sweet as to be cloying - a delectable treat... You can taste the bourbon and whiskey on this one, which is totally what I want from a beer like this... A little sticky on the tongue, but quickly disappears on the finish... Delivers what you'd expect based on the label and coming from Southern Tier...

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Photo of Roguer
4.24/5  rDev 0%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a fizzy, small, and rapidly disappearing head. Brew is a dark, purple-tinged brown.

Everything you could expect from the label is present on the nose: bourbon, oak, caramel, toffee, earthy hops, and maple syrup - roughly in that order in terms of strength. It has that sharp edge along with the caramel malt typical of the heavy hopping of an ABW - vice the soft warmth of an EBW. The bourbon and oak are prominent but superbly integrated with the overall profile.

On the palate, my initial thought is: smooth. Almost immediately, it shifts into ABW territory, carrying strong notes of caramel and hops. However, that lasts for just a moment before the maple syrup adds an insistent sweetness that will linger through the finish. Just as you're getting adjusted to the syrup, the boozy heat makes its delayed appearance, adding a layer of bite previously lacking. And then: it's over, the flavors receding from your palate, a boozy heat and light maple sweetness tinged with oak lingering longer than the other flavors.

When a boat passes, the wake typically has long individual waves of even periodicity and strength. Just ahead of and behind each of these waves are smaller ripples, matching their parent waves in speed. If one could synesthese sight and taste, this brew would be a fair parallel for the experience: a strong crest of depth and strength of flavor in the middle, but bookended by smaller crests of their own character.

In terms of feel, this brew is lacking in bite: the heavy hops are enough to compensate for what must be an insane malt bill (14.9%!), but the syrup puts it over the top. This doesn't just translate to uneven balance; it also presents in a syrupy, slick feel, where it doesn't quite feel "right". However, I can't recall a beer of this strength being so damn easy to drink in terms of the alcohol punch; Prairie Bomb!, at 13%, comes closest perhaps. BCBS, a better parallel in terms of ABV (and BBA), is significantly boozier.

So, going through my review of this roller coaster of a beer, you might be asking: OK, OK, I get it - but do you actually like the beer?

And to your hypothetical inner Socratic dialogue, I respond: Well, yes - with caveats and reservations.

First, my caveats: I am not a fan of ABW (although I love EBW). While I love maple, I find it is often overdone in beer, making for a cloying (but delectable) mess. And BBA beers often work for me.

Next, my reservations: the mouthfeel, as mentioned, leaves something to be desired - some punch, some bite, some extra carbonation. The appearance, as well, is lacking, giving the impression that I've poured a rather suicidally-proportioned glass of high octane spirits.

But finally, my verdict: it's very, very tasty. The hops aren't overpowering - if anything, they're remarkably restrained, as adding more in a vain attempt to balance out the maple syrup would almost certainly unbalance the flavor profile they were shooting for (and likely achieved). The maple syrup itself, while quite sweet, isn't distracting or burdensome in its presentation. It adds a level to the beer putting it on par with a dessert wine (fairly appropriate, it turns out, given the ABV). And the 14.9% is hidden so superbly that it likely qualifies as sorcery.

This beer is a complex, deep, strong beast of a brew, and is well worth the experience. "A complicated beast," states the notes, and I find nothing there with which I am inclined to disagree.

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Photo of White_Whiskey
4.74/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.37/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

In my teku the beer was a medium to dark brown with some red. A non-existant head.
Aroma of booze, maple syrup, toffee, vanilla, and oak.
Bourbon hits you first in the taste, followed by the maple syrup and toffee. Then the vanilla and oak show up, and the bourbon finishes.
Big beer! Sweet. I think the maple syrup has a calming effect on the bourbon.

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Photo of ManapuaMan
4.16/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Southern Tier puts out reliable shelf beers in MA so I’m excited to give this premium offering a go. Sounds like a beast of a beer with an ABV to match.

Pours a garnet, ruby-reddish hue with a small head that fades. Looks like a glass of port or flat cherry cola after 10 minutes.

Aroma is oak, malt, molasses, alocohol and candied fruit. The barleywine base is present but takes a backseat to the barrel. As has not been the case with many maple-BA beers I’ve tried recently, there is a good amount of molasses in the nose.

Taste is charred oak, sweet candied fruit, smoky molasses, caramel, toffee, figs and sap. Lots going on but it works well together; it’s still a beast of a beer but it’s not a sloppy pig-beast.

Mouthfeel is thick and slightly viscous; surprisingly not cloying or too hot. Lingering bourbon-alcohol and molasses on the tongue. Great sipper.

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Photo of BeerForMuscle
4.14/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of BEERMILER12
4.22/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a deep, dark ruby red color with a fingers worth of head that quickly fades down to nothing

S: Bourbon, oak, sweet malt and maple syrup, a light char, and some vanilla notes make up a majority of the nose. Aside from the bourbon, the alcohol is pretty much hidden completely under the combination of sweetness and wood

T: Follows the nose. Starts off with the bourbon, oak, maple sweetness, and residual maltiness. Vanilla, booze, and the light char from the staves come through towards the middle. Finishes with lingering light booze, malt, and oak

M: Medium-full bodied with low-moderate carbonation. Surprisingly not thick or syrupy for being a tick under 15%

O: An incredibly complex and interesting brew. The 3 different wood treatments really make a huge difference. A major sipper, obviously, but the 14.9% really doesn't show too much and helps the complexity out a bit. Definitely worth checking out, despite the price point. Would be incredibly interesting to age and see how the maple holds up

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Photo of kbuzz
3.94/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of thoglund
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Skabiski
4.35/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.19/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - The beer poured a murky black color with deep brown bubbles.

Smell - Very little sweetness is noted in the aroma. Bourbon and leather lead the way.

Taste - Sweet chocolate comes to the front. Tobacco, leather, and sweet prune juice follow. I am not getting a lot of maple. Dark fruits and bourbon linger.

Mouthfeel - I expected the maple would give some stickiness. The viscosity was not what I thought it would be.

Overall - Southern Tier is often maligned, but this is solid.

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

22 oz bottle poured into a tulip glass.

A: very little head slightly off white khaki colored soapy that disappeared quickly. Body is a caramel amber hazy in appearance.

S: lots of maple syrup, toffee, vanilla, very sweet smelling.

T: soft Bourbon honey toffee caramel vanilla a little oak. Very soft figs and dates.

M: nice full to medium body good cling a little alcohol slickness.

O: this beer is quite good. Lots of sweet sugary maple and Bourbon flavors without the heat.

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Photo of EvoRich
4.68/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Look: Pours like a barelywine, little to no head, and looks syrupy, with a deep amber color. I never really thought Barley wine looked all that great...

Smell: Maple syrup, bourbon, oak. As if Kentucky and Canada joined forces.

Taste: Boozy, lots of maple and oak flavors. Very sweet! I like it

Feel: Put this shit on pancakes.

Overall: The labeled describes exactly how this is going to taste. Barrel aged, barelywine (style), with maple syrup. Just imagine the flavor, and you're probably right.

 503 characters

Photo of KevBot89
4.8/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Photo of Brian29
3.92/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of DrCowboy67
4.54/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of clayrock81
4.16/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a brown body with minimal head and the aroma is sugary with notes of wood, vanilla, booze, maple syrup. Slow drinking as sticky and thick, syrupy even, woody, notes of vanilla booze sweetness, touch of dark fruits from figs/prunes, some maple syrup sweetness and other sweet malts like caramel/toffee. Very sweet, cloying, an acquired taste as if you don't like sweet drinks this is one to steer from.

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled in 4/2017. Pours crystal clear dark ruby red/brown color with a 1 finger foamy and fluffy light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin spotty lace cap that lingers. Slight spotty lacing clings on the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big caramel, brown sugar, maple syrup, toffee, molasses, vanilla, bourbon, toasted oak, and brown bread; with lighter notes of coconut, butterscotch, roasted nuts, cocoa, cherry, plum, raisin, herbal, pepper, and oak/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/bready malts, maple syrup, and bourbon barrel/oak notes; with great strength. Minimal booze in the aromas as it warms. Taste of huge caramel, brown sugar, maple syrup, toffee, molasses, vanilla, bourbon, toasted oak, and brown bread; with lighter notes of coconut, butterscotch, roasted nuts, cocoa, cherry, plum, raisin, herbal, pepper, and oak/toasted earthiness. Light herbal/woody bitterness and bourbon/oak tannin spiciness on the finish. Lingering notes of caramel, brown sugar, maple syrup, toffee, molasses, vanilla, bourbon, toasted oak, brown bread, coconut, butterscotch, cocoa, dark fruit, herbal, pepper, and oak/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Fantastic complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malts, maple syrup, and bourbon barrel/oak flavors; with a nice malt/bitter/spiciness balance, and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Slight dryness from bitter/spiciness, lightly increasing through the glass. Light carbonation and full body; with a smooth, creamy, and lightly slick/syrupy/sticky/tannic balanced mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden; a mild increasing warmth, with minimal barrel booziness lingering after the finish. Overall this is a fantastic barrel aged American barleywine! All around outstanding complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malts, maple syrup, and bourbon barrel/oak flavors; very smooth and dangerously easy to sip on for the huge ABV. Very clean on yeast notes, with minimal hop presence. Extremely rich and complex, with perfect bourbon barrel/oak balance and integration. I think this is likely just the barrel/oak aged version of the 2016 Backburner, as it had maple and molasses added already. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of glf60
4.58/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.88/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

3.88/5: Alarmingly sweet, but the oak dries the flavor to the point where it works; maple presence could be more defined, otherwise great stuff

143 characters

Photo of sabitu
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of dvmin98
3.27/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle. Nose is syrup. Taste is pure syrup and a total sugar bomb. A complete unbalanced mess of sugar sugar sugar. Get no barrel. Couldn't finish 4 oz. Put the rest of it in my smoker water pan for my ribs.

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Photo of ThreeBeersWalkedIn
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of VABA
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of GetTheYayo
4.43/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What the hell, Southern Tier? I thought your forte was overly saccharine and artificial stouts? This one pours a dark brown with garnet hues, low carb minimal lacing, as any proper barleywine should be. Smells like Red Man Gold tobacco, maple, sweet fig, burnt creme brulee, caramel, toffee, oak. Again, everything a BA barleywine should be. The thick and oily mouthfeel just cascades off the tongue, imparting layer after layer of sweet barleywine goodness with a pronounced bourbon barrel character. The 14.9% is warming, never a distraction. If this is what we can expect from Southern Tier's Barrel Works Series I say bring it on. I wouldn't classify this beer as elite amongst the BA barleywine field, but it's in the ballpark.

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Barrel Works Series: Sapsquatch from Southern Tier Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.24 out of 5 with 38 ratings
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