Improved Old Fashioned
Brooklyn Brewery

Improved Old FashionedImproved Old Fashioned
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Brooklyn Brewery
New York, United States
Rye Beer
Ranked #12
Ranked #6,288
4.11 | pDev: 8.03%
Sunday at 11:42 PM
Dec 23, 2015
Improved Old FashionedImproved Old Fashioned
Notes: Here at Brooklyn Brewery, we are, of course, beer people. But we are also “drinks people,” and many inspirations come to us out of the deep and wondrous world of cocktails. While surely invented earlier, the modern cocktail emerged in the 19th century. The original—the ur-cocktail, if you will—was the Old Fashioned. A deceptively simple drink consisting of whiskey, sugar, and bitters (stirred, not shaken), usually with a bit of citrus peel, a good Old Fashioned remains a thing of austere beauty. By the 1860s, some bartenders, Jerry Thomas (aka "The Professor") chief among them, became household names in America. A mixologist (believe it or not, the moniker is actually old) looking to make a name for himself would often make a change to an existing cocktail, perhaps adding absinthe, or curaçao, or a dash of maraschino liqueur. This new version would be rakishly referred to as “improved,” as the upstart barman fervently hoped to eclipse his predecessor.

Well, we’ve gone this idea one better. We have “improved” the Old Fashioned by making it into a beer. Witness our strong rye beer, suffused with various spices and peels! Wonder at its long blissful rest in WhistlePig Rye Whiskey oak barrels! Marvel at its clever infusions of bitter gentian root and enticing botanicals! And then enjoy, as you are greeted by the silky spice of rye, the firm herbal bitterness, the brightness of citrus, and the sweet warmth of oak. Sit in your favorite chair, surround yourself with your favorite people, and imbibe this, our latest Brooklyn Quarterly Experiment. We can nearly guarantee that you shall feel that your day has, in fact, improved.

Style: Barrel-aged rye ale with botanicals & bitters

Malts: Glen Eagle Maris Otter, Canadian 2-row, Weyermann Rye, Fawcett Rye, Fawcett Crystal Rye

Additions: Demerara sugar, Belgian candi syrup, bitter orange peel, lemon peel, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, bitter gentian root, cloves, and aging in WhistlePig Rye whiskey barrels

Hops: Perle

Yeast: Our House Ale Yeast

Original Gravity: 21° Plato
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
Photo of Sigmund
3.33/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25
by Sigmund from Norway

750 ml corked & caged bottle, Cardinal Pub & Bar, Stavanger. ABV is 12.8%. Dark brown colour, moderate to low beige head. Strong aroma of spices and herbs, spiced fruit cake, brown sugar, rye whisky and oak. Fairly sweet and very spicy flavour, loads of "christmassy" spices and bittering herbs, also brown sugar, rye whisky and moderate oak again. The big bottle is for sharing - this beer is more of a curiosity than something really great.

Sunday at 11:42 PM
4.45 by ummswimmin from New Jersey on Jun 21, 2020
4.14 by desint from Belgium on Oct 06, 2019
4 by kjkinsey from Texas on Sep 26, 2019
Photo of brentk56
4.21/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
by brentk56 from North Carolina

Appearance: Pours with a slightly translucent tawny color capped by a thin head; a few dots and dashes of lacing

Smell: Toffee and citrus with nuts, crusty bread and cereal tones; hints of fortified wine

Taste: Toffee and crusty bread forward with flavors of orange pith, maraschino cherry and pine; hints of fortified wine and whiskey with peppery rye adding spice

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body with low to moderate carbonation

Overall: Like the name says, Brooklyn has taken the concept of an Old Fashioned cocktail and improved it

May 12, 2019
3.52 by KAP1356 from Pennsylvania on Dec 28, 2018
4.25 by Patches826 from Massachusetts on Nov 23, 2018
3.5 by jgunther71 from Illinois on Sep 21, 2018
3.5 by krome from Illinois on Sep 21, 2018
4.45 by Negrelly from Brazil on Jun 14, 2018
4.3 by Pro_Magnon from Texas on Apr 14, 2018
3.96 by BrewNoob1 from Minnesota on Mar 28, 2018
3.95 by ADKbeerguy from New York on Dec 17, 2017
4.2 by Abe_Froman from Massachusetts on Dec 10, 2017
4.19 by beergorrilla from Michigan on Sep 22, 2017
Photo of Jsalz21
4.24/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by Jsalz21 from New Jersey

I've been aching for this one. BQEs apparently have a reputation for being amongst the best out of Brooklyn, and I am already a fan of at least one. Considering this one is from 2016 but 12.8%, I have no idea how much time spent sitting on the shelf is going to effect it.

Poured into a snifter, it looks a handsome reddish brown and leaves more lacing than I expected. Head retention is expectedly low otherwise. Creates a red hue when struck by light through the glass, which is always cool in my humble opinion.

The aroma of this beer is bonkers. Straight bonkers. Popping the cork, it smells bourbon-y and inviting. Keeping it in the glass as I type this, the smell is reaching out to me already. A strong scent of bourbon and vanilla meshes with botanical (almost herbaceous) character. Blindfolded, it would be pretty easy to mistake this for a actual Old-Fashioned, minus the boozy whiff of the liquor.

Upfront, it confronts you and goes into a botanical/ slightsweet orange flavor that is somewhat mellow. Assorted spicy flavors are the dominant ones, along with the pronounced ABV. After awhile the booziness can get repetitive, but its uniqueness makes up for it slightly.

This feels like a cocktail, if slightly more mellow. Spicy, with strong alcoholic character, an an aftertaste to match it. Any malt here is keeping it just harsh enough to mimic the sensation of the cocktail. In it's own way, I find that impressive as heck. Still, it has enough burn to mimic bourbon thru what i suspect is a combo of ABV and spiciness.

I am actually a giant fan of this. More than I thought I was going to be. Of course, an old-fashioned is my go to when the bar is woefully under educated when it comes to beer, and everything that makes that cocktail challenging and interesting is encapsulated in this beer, with the exception of its lacking in orange flavor. This is definitely a beer where an 7-8 oz pour is necessary as well. Spicy rye and botanical character gives it a festive aroma, and its slight sweetness is nice. It catches up to you very quickly, and the aroma just demands another sip.

Sep 07, 2017
Photo of Lone_Freighter
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
by Lone_Freighter from Vermont

On tap at Farmhouse Tap and Grill in Burlington, VT. This was poured into a flared tulip. The appearance was a dark malty brown color with a thin rimmed glaze of one finger white foamy head that dissipated at a nice pace. Moderate slim white lacing sticking and then sliding down into the beer. The smell started off with Christmas spices of allspice, ginger, clove and nutmeg. Light cocoa, coconut and even some subtle coffee bean sweetness blends in. The taste was basically sweet and spicy with a gentle roast underneath. Light sweet to spicy aftertaste. Slight spicy finish. On the palate, this one sat about a light to medium on the body with a fairly decent sessionability about it. Spicy harshness isn’t overbearing - good use. Overall, this was a rye beer? Oh, uh....sure, okay, fine with me because I'd still have again. Pretty nice.

Jul 18, 2017
4.25 by tvenne from Minnesota on May 09, 2017
4.11 by SpaethJam from New York on Apr 13, 2017
3.93 by Vylo from New Jersey on Mar 23, 2017
Photo of JamFuel
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75
by JamFuel from Sweden

On tap at Mule Bar in Winooski.

Pours a brownish red with a soft, dense foam.

Smell is very herbal and sweet, with orange, ginger and Gammeldansk dancing around.

The taste is heavy and herbal. Lots of nutmeg and cinnamon, a hint of licorice, and a lot of alcohol. Finishes sweet.

Mouthfeel is thin and softly carbonated.

I know what they were going for here and they nailed it. It is very much a cocktail in a beer. It's just a bit too heavy for me, as I couldn't finish the 8 oz pour. Very good, but in small quantities.

Mar 14, 2017
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.34/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by Georgiabeer from Georgia

I've always enjoyed these beer tributes to cocktails, and the Improved Old fashioned is one of the better ones. To me, it certainly captures the nuances of the cocktail with the peppery rye notes, the wisp of citrus and botanicals on a solid background beer that harmonizes everything. Most enjoyable!

Mar 04, 2017
4.14 by tubeyes from Texas on Feb 16, 2017
3.99 by Timtac from New Jersey on Feb 05, 2017
Photo of Jadjunk
3.78/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
by Jadjunk from Georgia

"The simple, beautiful Old Fashioned emerged in the 19th century as one of the first "cock-tails" : Whiskey, sugar, bitters, & a bit of citrus peel. Mixologists who put their own spin on such classics often rakishly referred to their versions as "improved." We "improved" the Old Fashioned by making it into a beer. Brooklyn Improved Old Fashioned is a strong rye ale, aged in WhistlePig Rye Whiskey barrels & infused with bitter genetian root, botanicals & citrus. Enjoy the silky spice of rye, herbal bitterness, bright citrus & sweet, warm oak." Brewed in the style of a Rye Beer with Botanicals added, aged in WhistlePig Rye Whiskey barrels. Available in one-off 750ml. bottles and on limited draft.

Poured from a 750ml. bottle to a snifter glass.

(Appearance) Pours a crisp, frothy head of a pale tan color over a very hazy caramel brown body with abundant sediment in tow. Retention is below average and there is no visible lacing. 3.25

(Smell) Aromatic blend of rye bread malts, caramelized syrups and fermented fruit sugars with the potent sharpness of aromatic bitters, spicy licorice and remnant of citrus peel. Very true to the cocktail, and nicely balanced. Potency is moderate/high. 4

(Taste) Largely follows the aroma, with slightly more emphasis on malt body- very rich caramel syrup and rye bread body with the thickness of molasses, subtly accentuated by the WhistlePig Rye barrel aging, providing subtle whiskey remnant and delicate oak tannin character. Slightly less emphasis comes through from the garnish, from the bitters to the citrus peel, which is the most lacking. This isn’t a crucial blow to the drinkability or overall impression of the beer but keep things slightly flat and ordinary in comparison to the aroma. 3.75

(Mouthfeel) Texture is slick, moderately viscous, chewy, smooth, medium dry. Carbonation is moderate, generating a medium frothiness and a moderately crisp finish. Body is medium for the style, medium/heavy overall. Balance is slightly sweet over aromatic bitter and bitterness. Alcohol presence is modest and there are no off characters. 3.75

(Overall) I’m largely impressed by how nicely this cocktail carries over to a beer, with a nice delivery of rye body and rye barrel aging to smooth out the rough edges. I found the aroma a notch above the flavor as it had a nice presentation of bitters and peel, both of which were toned down much more and lost a bit of balance in the flavor as a result. Overall, Improved Old Fashioned is an enjoyable beer and certainly one-of-a-kind in its category. Its hefty price tag may limit your mileage, or even your will to try it, but I can say this is one of the better 750ml. experimental releases of the past two years from this brewery, and worth a fair stir (not shake).

Brooklyn Brewery's
Improved Old Fashioned

Feb 02, 2017
4.31 by Gambyt20 from Illinois on Jan 21, 2017
Photo of 911CROFT
4.45/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5
by 911CROFT from England

750ml capped and corked bottle into a large snifter. Paid £21.99 for a single.

Pours an opaque, dark chestnut body, which transforms to a bright crimson when held to the light, and allows plenty of fine streaming visible carbonation to be observed. A thick, foamy, two-finger in height, light tan coloured head slowly reduces to a thin film and collar, leaving behind plenty of sticky, soapy lace.

The wonderfully unique, complex and aromatic nose initially comprises of sweet, rich, toasty malts. Lightly spicy rye, soft brown sugar, caramel, toffee and Belgian candi syrup, lead above pronounced raisin, fig, date and maraschino cherry sweetness. Nutmeg, ginger and clove spices follow, while bitter orange peels, traces of vanilla, oak and whisky become perceptible towards the back-end. Taste roughly follows suit, adding greater botanical and barreling presence to the latter half. Light caramel and toffee profiles lead above an abundance of rich and warm toasted malts. Yeasty dark fruit sweetness gradually builds with plenty of raisin-like character and subtler impressions of fig, date, prune, plum and apple. Mid-palate, sweetness peaks with maraschino cherry and vanilla, before traces of a spicy rye backbone and oily citrus peels begin to provide excellent balancing bitterness. Towards the back-end, herbal and earthy warming spices join lingering orange and lemon peel, as notes of clove, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and gentian root give an Angostura bitters-like impression. In the mouth, a rich, viscous, oily full body paired with an appropriately low amount of soft, fine carbonation give a wonderfully slick and smooth feel. Towards the back-end, rye whisky barreling adds further spice and woody, earthy complexity. Wet oak, earth, leather and traces of warming alcohol linger for an age, finishing semi-sweet, but drying the palate with enough mild astringency to encourage frequent sipping.

Overall this is an incredible beer. Smooth, complex, flavourful and unique, it masterfully integrates toasty malt, spicy rye, fruity yeast, zesty citrus, herbal bitterness, woody barreling and whisky warmth into a perfect interpretation of an Old Fashioned. At 12.8% ABV it drinks ridiculously easily, drawing you in by revealing new flavours and depth with every sip. At £21.99 a single, it is by no means a cheap drop, it is however, without a doubt, the best beer I’ve ever had by Brooklyn Brewery, and probably worth every penny. Recommended.

Jan 03, 2017
4.24 by runeatdrink from New Jersey on Dec 31, 2016
3.86 by GarbageMan10 from Texas on Dec 09, 2016
Photo of ajm5108
4.39/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
by ajm5108 from Pennsylvania

Pours a very deep amber with minimal head. Aroma is fantastic - they absolutely nailed that "old fashioned" smell. Lots of herbal notes - mint, tea - with orange zest and a kiss of nutmeg, and the whiskey component smells fresh and not just aged oak aromas. Incredible.

The taste is a little less authentic and a little more cloying, but still good. Boy does the cinnamon & nutmeg really come out in the body, but it compliments the rye. You still get that herbal taste though it is more supporting, and the orange is a nice underlying note, but it ultimately borders on a Christmas beer / winter warmer with that heavy spice. Not that it is a bad thing, just after that transporting aroma I was hoping for more of that cocktail flavor. The bourbon note is noticeable and very Kentucky smooth.

All of the pieces of the old fashioned is there, but it fails to necessarily fool you. What it does is provides an unique beer with some really distinct flavor which while maybe being a little less than the sum of its parts is still a great beer. I'm all for experimentation, and this one definitely sticks the landing even if the flight is turbulent at times.

Dec 06, 2016
4.18 by kkmiller76 from New Jersey on Dec 04, 2016
Photo of spacecake9
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by spacecake9 from Illinois

A - Pours a muddy brown color with a small white head.
S - The aroma is spices, cinnamon and clove, with some alcohol.
T - A little sweet. Some orange peel. I really like the rye in this beer.
M - Medium mouth feel and carbonation.
O - An interesting, unique beer. I've never had an old fashioned but now I need to try one.

Dec 03, 2016
4.25 by Adamostella from Washington on Nov 15, 2016
4.28 by atlandy from Georgia on Nov 04, 2016
4.21 by Mike from New Hampshire on Nov 02, 2016
4.31 by Stofko1992 from Pennsylvania on Oct 25, 2016
4.44 by ojingeo from New York on Oct 14, 2016
4.06 by boogerisu from Iowa on Oct 10, 2016
Photo of iheartmyTHO
3.74/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75
by iheartmyTHO from Georgia

This beer is a bit too sweet / malty for my preferences. The botanicals also give it a bit of a funky flavor. Drinking this beer, cold, straight from the fridge is not recommended. It makes it taste terrible. But once the beer warmed up, it did become a bit more drinkable. The citrus and botanical flavors are prominent as well as the alcohol.

Not a terrible beer, but I feel like it would have been tastier if the alcohol content wasn't quite so high.

Oct 09, 2016
Photo of NolaHopHead
4.07/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
by NolaHopHead from Louisiana

750 ml bottle. Pours murky brown, thin white head, lots of lacing. Candy caramel aroma, touch of booze. Sweet taste, caramel, Rye, mild spice and wood. Thin to medium slick feel. This was better than I expected.

Oct 09, 2016
Improved Old Fashioned from Brooklyn Brewery
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 123 ratings