Improved Old Fashioned | Brooklyn Brewery

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Improved Old FashionedImproved Old Fashioned
116 Ratings
Improved Old FashionedImproved Old Fashioned

Brewed by:
Brooklyn Brewery
New York, United States

Style: Rye Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.80%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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

Added by jaydoc on 12-23-2015

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 116 |  Reviews: 34
Reviews by BamfBacon:
Photo of BamfBacon
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

More User Reviews:
Photo of Jack_Malts
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Well, it sure tastes like an old fashioned. If you're a fan of the cocktail, you'll love this. beer. I have half a mind to throw in some rocks, which would at least thin out the mouthfeel and sweetness a bit, but I won't because I'm not a savage.

The only complaint I think I have is that there's a bit too much cinnamon on the palate. They probably could have scaled this back. The flavor and bitterness from the gentian root is really great, and the beer is surprisingly harmonious. The flavors work well together and balance each other.

This beer is a great success, and I would say get one, but I remember the only reason I bought it was that my local whole foods had mislabeled it as some other Brooklyn beer and it ended up costing me 12$. I'm pretty sure its supposed to be in the 20+$ range, so it might actually have an unreasonable price tag.

I guess I'd still recommend it at that price range, but price seems to always be a problem with these quarterly offerings. I remember going to Wegmans one time and they had K is for Kriek for 22$ right next to Abyss for 15$ and I was like, why would I ever even consider buying that when that other better, cheaper beer is sitting right there?

Safe to say, if the quarterly project beers were 15$ a pop, I'd be buying every single one that came out.

 1,307 characters

Photo of Pencible
4.27/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: This poured a nearly opaque mahogany with some thick tan head.
S: It smelled like sweet orange and toasted oak, with some caramel and raisin bread and honey, and a bit of spicy rye and cinnamon.
T: It tasted like honey wheat raisin bread, with some sweet orange peel and toasted oak and spicy rye and tart bitters. It had a clean bittersweet aftertaste with some alcohol warming.
M: It was very thick with a little carbonation. Huge chewy body.
D: This was a great complex brew with delicious and balanced scent and taste. The body was great, but the finish was a little hot, so it was better to sip. Would likely mellow with some age. Very nice!

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Photo of oberon
4.05/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I must say I have never had an old fashioned...but I love me some rye whiskey and rye based beer so I ger it a whirl.First off a great pour,a chestnut brown with a billowing creamy beige head that leaves two rinngs of lace as it settles into a frothy mass.'Botanicals and ginger-like spice stand out most in the nose,not sure what gentian root is but there is a 'rootiness' that screams ginger and nutmeg to me over top of mild spicy rye.Very smooth and on the fuller side in the mouth,it glides down pretty easy.It took awhile for me to warm up to the flavor profile but once I did I 'got' it.Botanicals and vanilla mixed with spicy rye malts,with cinnamon,big clove, and nutmeg really coming thru in the finish.Wow there is alot going on here,it deserves high marks just for the complexity it gives off even if it's not the best tasting brew.

 844 characters

Photo of DaftPatrick
4.06/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of tvenne
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of JakerLou
4.35/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of MattyG85
4.51/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 750 ml corked bottle into a Brooklyn chalice.

Appearance: Pours a hazy brownish orange with a moderate amount of bubbles. Slight finger of off white head that quickly fades away.

Smell: A spicy, boozy, and fruity aroma with a scent of rye whiskey, spices, and orange peel. Upfront barrel scent of rye whiskey, oak, vanilla, and wood. Spice scent of nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and coriander. Fruit hints of orange peel and lemon. Sweet hints of candied sugar. Malt hints of caramel, rye, grains, and biscuit. A really nice aroma.

Taste: Like it smells, a spicy, fruity, and nicely boozy taste with notes of rye whiskey, spices, and orange peel. Barrel notes of rye whiskey, vanilla, oak, and wood. Big spice presence with notes of nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, and coriander. Fruit notes of orange peel and lemon. Sweet taste of candied sugar. Malt notes of rye, caramel, toffee, grains, and biscuit. A pretty good complex taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with a medium to high level of carbonation. Creamy, silky, and somewhat sticky. Alcohol heat is smoothed out pretty well.

Overall: A really nice Barrel Aged Rye Ale. Good mix of rye whiskey barrel, spices, and fruit flavor. One of the best in this series from Brooklyn.

 1,247 characters

Photo of boogerisu
4.06/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of kwkdmk
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of chinchill
3.83/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On tap in Asheville.

Not great looking, with a murky brown body and a bubbly but durable head.

Smells boozy, appropriately I suppose, and very sweet. Hints of over-ripe soft fruits. Complex flavor with clear and prominent but mild alcohol and a lasting, boozy aftertaste.

 273 characters

Photo of tappangordo
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of dhmxray
4.46/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of spacecake9
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

 328 characters

Photo of beergorrilla
4.19/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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

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

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.

 844 characters

Photo of scootny
4.53/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Lovely in the glass. A tight creamy had with a slow fade. Great lacing and a light covering. Light mahogany in color.

Nose is gorgeous. Rye, oak, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, cherries, orange peel. The list seems to be endless. It combines evocatively and I keep looking at the glass to remind myself that this is a beer.

Taste hits the nail on the head. Sweet sugary flavors lightly underpinned by malt with a steely rye and whiskey bite. Notes of caramel and toffee. Oak and vanilla. Dry orange peel and citrus. A pine tinged tartness. A bit of medicinal that bring out the cocktail character. A juniper berry like flourish that gives the finish a mixed drink personality. Hope fuse to the finish and lightly accentuate the bitters that dry the mouth. Better at cellar temperature than cold but still delicious out of. the fridge.

Lush, luxurious creamyness that really comes alive in my mouth. Super drinkable. A silky quality as it glides over my tongue that makes for a relaxed enjoyment of a truly complex. And delightful experience.

An amazingly accurate reproduction that does indeed improve on the original. Wow. I'm gonna put a bunch of these away. Hopefully the delicate balance will hold up to some summer porch moments as the day fades to night.

 1,263 characters

Photo of JamLand
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of JamFuel
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

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 herem and the nailed it. It is very much a cocktal 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.

 525 characters

Photo of sahd-1
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of drummerdwzp
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of emerge077
3.99/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of iheartmyTHO
3.74/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

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.

 459 characters

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.27/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at The Old Toad in Rochester, NY.

This one pours a dark-ish amber color, with a small head, and no lacing.

This does really smell astoundingly like an Old Fashioned in beer form. Smells like orange peel, rye whiskey, coriander, caramel, and oak. I also get some herbal aromas, too- I'd guess from the gential root, whatever that is.

This is the rare barrel-aged beer that's actually better a bit colder. As it warms, it becomes quite boozy, like a very strong Old Fashioned, but colder, it tastes like a really well mixed cocktail in beer form. The orange peel and rye whiskey come through the strongest, with a nice spiced character, both from the rye and the cinnamon and coriander. There's a bit of creamy vanilla, and some oak, with just a hint of caramel. It's definitely a cool concept that's executed well.

This is medium bodied- I wish it was a little bit thicker, possibly. It's pretty drinkable, but gets less so as it warms up.

This is probably the best BA beer I've had from Brooklyn, restores my faith in them a bit.

 1,041 characters

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Improved Old Fashioned from Brooklyn Brewery
Beer rating: 4.11 out of 5 with 116 ratings