Short's Bourbon Barrel Sustenance Black Beer | Short's Brewing Company

BA SCORE
88
very good
205 Ratings
THE BROS
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Short's Bourbon Barrel Sustenance Black BeerShort's Bourbon Barrel Sustenance Black Beer
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Short's Brewing Company
Michigan, United States
shortsbrewing.com

Style: Schwarzbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
Sustenance Black Beer aged it in bourbon barrels for 11 months.

Added by Baileyuk on 04-28-2008

BEER STATS
Ratings:
205
Reviews:
82
Avg:
3.97
pDev:
10.58%
 
 
Wants:
59
Gots:
28
For Trade:
3
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 205 |  Reviews: 82
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled November 2009
A solid pour into my 25cl tulip glass produces a three finger thick, lightly browned, tanned colored head. The beer is quite black in color that shows a brilliantly clear, rich ruby hue when held up to the light. The aroma is definitely spiced with an ample signature of Bourbon, though it is not overwhelming; notes of toasted coconut, vanillin, spicy oak, and a touch of heat from the Bourbon. I can't really notice much of the base beer underneath the Bourbon though; perhaps a touch of toasted malt.

The beer tastes fairly dry with a touch of tartness from the oak and Bourbon. Notes of vanillin, some coconut and a bit of spicy Bourbon in the finish are noticeable, but don't play nearly as big a role as they did in the aroma. There is a touch of toasted malt noticeable in the finish as well as hint of roasted malt that tastes a bit like black coffee. A touch of Bourbon heat is brought out by the oak more so than actual alcohol. This feels quite light bodied on the palate, but that isn't unexpected as this isn't the world strongest Bourbon aged beer; the carbonation adds a prickly texture that tends to make this beer seem a bit thin at first, but releasing the extra carbonation produces a creamy texture despite the light body.

This is a fairly one-dimensional beer with the Bourbon being quite dominant. If you can appreciate that sort of thing then you will likely enjoy this beer as it is done pretty well here. This does have a nice vanillin and coconut character to it, though it is a bit hot and spicy from the Bourbon'ed alcohol at times. I could definitely wish for more dark malt character to come through, but this more than a serviceable brew for this "chilly" Arizona weekend.

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Photo of KAF
4.16/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Eziel
4.04/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of mrn1ceguy
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of corby112
3.65/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From notes:

Pours pitch black and completely opaque without even the slightest hint of lighter color when held to a light source. Quite viscous looking with a half finger mocha colored head that quickly settles into a lasting ring. Sporadic spots of lacing left behind.

Intensely boozy aroma with a huge barrel presence. Lots of sweet boozy bourbon along with some earthy oak and faint vanilla. Underneath there is a slight smokey malt presence with hints of chocolate, toffee and roasted coffee bean but the nose of this beer is all about the bourbon.

Medium bodied and slightly viscous with a very prominent bourbon flavor. Again, as in the aroma, the barrel character dominates the flavor with a burst of hot, boozy bourbon that lingers throughout, slightly overpowering the other flavors. Slight earthy oak and faint vanilla/toasted coconut but the bourbon and hot alcohol overtake these notes pretty quickly. Underneath there is a roasted chocolate malt presence with hints of roasted coffee bean, toffee and oatmeal. Slightly smokey which provides some balance to the sweet bourbon but overall this beer is just a bit too much of a bourbon bomb for my liking.

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Photo of Rhettroactive
3.37/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From 12oz bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 4/7/12
*From notes

A: A dark shade of brown. A good pour yields a loose 1.25 finger head. Thin collar, no lacing.

S: A shit ton of bourbon and not a whole lot else. Which is awesome. If you like bourbon.

T: Pretty much the same as the nose. The beer is nothing more then a delivery device for the barreled spirit that was housed prior to the beer. Though I kind of dig it, the thing I want to know is why? Why would someone looking for bourbon drink a beer smothered by bourbon when they can simply drink....bourbon? I guess I should note that the back of this is a bit tangy - some mouth watering red fruit, which leaves an unwanted finish lingering on my palate.

M: It's ok, I guess. Thinner then I'd like for a bourbon barreled beer. But for a standard Schwarzbier, it's not half bad.

O: Just another weirdy from Short's. What the fuck are they smoking up there in Bellaire? Who comes up with these off-the-wall offerings? Some are pretty cool and tasty. Some, like this, are merely passable. And others (as many of you know) are absolutely terrible. I give 'em credit for not backing down from their outside-the-box way of thinking, but there comes a point where you just want a God damn beer.

Add this to the list of "middle of the road" Short's offerings. Hey, I consider it a win when my drain doesn't share a Short's with me.

 1,382 characters

Photo of Stevedore
3.74/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle from the most recent 2013 release (no bottle date), generously given to me by fellow BA Benish. Poured into an unlabeled snifter today, 9/1/2013.

Pours a dark black, opaque body with a 1cm brown head that dissipates into a fairly thick brown collar. Not much lacing to speak of. Very dark looking brew.

Smells like sweet bourbon. Not much smoke or roastiness at all here. A bit of earthiness in the background.. must be the hops. But pretty much a sweet nose here. Not much oak or vanilla- just that sweet bourbon, a bit of chocolate and just a wee bit of roast malts.

Tastes like sweet bourbon mixed in with some caramel and toffee. Tasty brew that kind of reminds me of Jack and Coke, to be honest. Not much vanilla or oak here which I would have expected from a bourbon barrel beer, even if they call it "soaked" on the label. Interesting, pleasant, not super complex but tasty.

Mouthfeel on this is medium bodied, good carbonation. Its a bit slick and resinous, covers my tongue in sweet bourbon flavour. It's surprisingly low ABV which I don't get, with all that sweet bourbon! I guess this is part of the charm here. At the same time its a bit of a sipper just because of that flavour... you sip bourbon, right?

Interesting beer. Not meant to be compared to say, Bourbon County Stout or anything like that, but on its own this is an interesting, flavourful beer. I enjoyed it, and I recommend it to anyone who likes a lighter beer with some bourbon flavour in it. It holds up well surprisingly despite the relatively thin body and malt presence.

 1,568 characters

Photo of beergorrilla
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of stereosforgeeks
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%

Photo of jschott75
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of maximum12
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Been wanting to try this forever & when tectactoe tosses a bottle my way I inexplicably...leave it in the fridge for six weeks, or something. The mysterious ways of the mind. 12 oz. bottle sipped with a good brat, & afterwards.

Poured, the beer lives up to it Deutsch billing; black, though red around the edges & as the volume in the glass falls. Carbonation is fair to middlin'. Nose is heavy on the bourbon, with soft backups of roast & malts. Bourbon rules the roost here.

Bourbon Barrel Sustenance would be welcome in my water skin if I was wandering the depths of Mirkwood. Or Chicago. The brew is driven by the barrel, to the point that this could be a barrel-aged Dicktbier & it might not be much different. Fair dip of chocolate in the middle bracketed by oak, coconut (maybe?), vanilla. Bourbon takes control on the end, though it's been lined with chocolate. Plenty OK. Creamy; akin to a milk stout, almost. I'm sipping this like it comes with an expiration minute.

I'm not going to knife anyone for another bottle, but I'm seriously enjoying it. If the world were fair, it would get bonus points for being a relatively low ABV barrel-aged beer. Very good.

 1,173 characters

Photo of mynie
4.18/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Advertises itself as "Bourbon Barrel Soaked," which is a phrasing I like.

Pours very dark and still. VERY dark. Practically opaque. No head of which to speak.

Smells of bourbon vanilla, light barley char, and some raisins. Not the most variegated of bourbon-aged beers, but well composed.

Taste starts with raisiny, aged grain and a whiskey sharpness. This smooths into a middle of straight vanilla that lasts all the way through to the finish.

It's pretty good. Perhaps I let it age too long, but honestly I think age has brought forward some of its fruity complexities.

 583 characters

Photo of StoutHunter
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of atone315
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%

Photo of xnicknj
4.07/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into snifter - big thanks to erikkoppin

Pours a deep black color with a thinner lightly tanned head. Lightly retained, leaving curtains of lacing on the glass.

Potent nose with bourbon, but other softer notes including vanilla, oak, and coconut. Some roasted malts with caramel and butterscotch sweetness and faint booze.

A touch sweet up front with vanilla and syrupy butterscotch. Smack of bourbon with some oaky tannins. Thicker malt body, fairly roasted and warm throughout, dashes of coconut as well. Finishes sweet and a bit boozy.

Medium body, decent carbonation, sticky and smooth on the tongue, but a little on the thin side for me. Definitely an interesting bal aged beer, refreshingly different and tasty.

 742 characters

Photo of warnerry
4.45/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Notes from summer 2010

Pours pitch black with minimal head that dissipates pretty quickly. Does leave some nice lacing behind.

Smell is wonderful sweet bourbon and malt, with notes of chocolate and vanilla and some ripe dark fruits.

Taste is similar to smell, with wonderful subtle bourbon notes and a nice smoky malt.

Mouthfeel is medium with decent carbonation.

Drinkability is very high. This is one of the best examples of bourbon barrel aging really improving a beer, as the regular Black Sustenance is pretty underwhelming. A very nice beer that I would love to see Short's do again.

 594 characters

Photo of tectactoe
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Thanks to Jeff for picking me up a sixer of this at the brewery. Not sure exactly what is meant by Bourbon Barrel "Soaked", rather than "Aged", but I'll never turn down a Shorts brew. This one pours a dark brown color, kind of thin and a bit lighter looking compared to what I had imagined in my mind. Almost no head at first, but it gracefully forms seconds after I finish pouring - tan in color, big-bubbled, and lightly creamy. No lace on the glass, but the beer leaves some wet legging when swirled.

One thing's for sure - the aroma on BB Sustenance is much more robust than its appearance might have you believe. It comes out swinging with a huge barrel presence - bourbon is perhaps the strongest peripheral, following closely by a large amount of smooth and sweet vanilla. Some mild oaky, woody, and nutty aromas lay beneath those, creating a beer that smells not too far off of sticking your head inside of an old bourbon barrel. Upon warming, more roasted malts and sweet chocolate notes jump out, too - this beer smells great.

One sip and you're immediately assulted by a great deal of booze; the bourbon hits hard, almost coming off as more of a raw, whiskey flavor. Once the initial shock of the bourbon subsides, other flavors that come out include a soft-spoken mix of cola, oak, roast, and some vanilla - sadly in much lower capacity than was found in the aroma. Lots of chocolate and cocoa powder comes crashing in about halfway through and hangs around for the aftertaste. Especially when this puppy warms up, the semi-sweet cocoa becomes a big proponent in the finish.

The mouth feel on BB Sustenance is slick and wet, but it has a slight creaminess to it that keeps it feeling smooth and refreshing on the palate. Carbonation is pretty low, but it really isn't much of a bother. I guess when I hear "Bourbon Barrel" in front of a beer, I'm expecting some thick, viscous, chewy-ass liquid, but that's simply not the case. Schwarzbiers typically are not thick, and so it shouldn't be too much of a concern that BB Sustenance isn't, either, save for the barrel-induced creaminess.

It's hard to believe this beer is only 6.5% ABV - the bourbon character is very strong and very forward. It starts strong and finishs strong, leaving a warmth that engulfs your throat and even the upper-half of your chest after each swallow. Not so much robust as it is unabashedly powerful; while I still enjoyed the beer, some time in the cellar might provide a smoother flavor profile with a slightly toned down alcohol assault. Fresh, this one's a slow sipper. Shorts wasn't too far off with their slogan for this one - "for when you're hungry and thirsty".

 2,663 characters

Photo of DanGeo
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%

Photo of AgentZero
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%

Photo of ROGUE16
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%

Photo of gford217
4.32/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of HiAIPA and armchairboogie poured into a pilsner glass.

A: Pours deep, deep mahogany with a bubbly two-finger tan head that lingers for a little while and leaves a trace of lacing.

S: Smell is complex and interesting with bourbon definitely showing up and burning the nose a little. There is also tons of dark fruit with raisins and even grapes on top a very sweet malt base with brown sugar as well.

T: Taste is just as interesting as the nose with an initial sweetness of sugar and caramel. Dark fruits show throughout on top of a roasted malt base before giving way to a tingling alcohol finish.

M: Mouthfeel is medium bodied with good carbonation and leaves a sticky sweet aftertaste tinged with booze.

D: This is one of the best schwarzbiers I've ever had and I think the bourbon barrel use is very well done. This is my first Shorts brew and I'm looking forward to more. Highly recommended!

 919 characters

Photo of illidurit
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

RBSG09 bottle at the grand tasting. Pours dark amber brown with a beige head. Epic aroma, lots of bourbon obviously but also dark fruits, bananas, and chocolate. Flavor is roasty and chocolatey with some tart bourbon, vanilla, and a woody dry finish.

 250 characters

Photo of prototypic
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bourbon Barrel Sustenance pours a dark, chocolate fudge color. It’s not opaque. Backlighting reveals some burgundy highlights throughout. A tan head covers the top. It rises above a surface covering, but not by much. The surface bubbles hold steady for a while. Lacing was definitely light and spotty. Not bad at all.

The nose is good. It kicks off with a nice bourbon scent. It’s not overly strong. I like that. It complements the dark malt notes of cocoa and chocolate well. Light roasted malt scents are present, but they’re very subtle. Secondary notes include vanilla and oak. Alcohol is definitely in the mix. What’d you expect with something barrel-aged? Doesn’t smell overly strong though. Smells good.

The flavor is likewise good. It’s a touch better than the nose, but not enough to trigger a score bump. It kicks off with a mix of chocolate, cocoa, and light roasted malts. Bittersweet dark chocolate leads the charge. Bourbon follows quickly and complements the malt base extremely well. Its presence is moderately strong. I love that. Secondary flavors include oak, vanilla, coconut, and roasted coffee. Good stuff. Alcohol is there, but isn’t too strong. Seems a little stronger than 6.5% to me, but perhaps not double digit territory. Just sayin’. Finishes malty with a touch of bourbon. Very good stuff.

Bourbon Barrel Sustenance has a medium body that’s nice and smooth. Carbonation is dialed back nicely. I like the feel quite a bit. Perhaps a tad bit more body would improve it, but that’s just a guess. Pretty well done as it is.

Short’s Brewing Company continues to impress. Bourbon Barrel Sustenance is very solid all-around. Bourbon Barrel-aging a Schwarzbier – who would’ve thought? It works extremely well though. The moderate bourbon presence was a great call. It complements rather than overpowers. Very good stuff. Easy recommendation.

 1,894 characters

Photo of FosterJM
3.7/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1336th Review on BA
Bottle to Mug
12 oz

Thanks to ErikKoppin for this one

App- A nice darker brown pour with some decent density and a bit of red around the edges. A small 1/4-1/2 in head was there and then left. No lace or cling.

Smell- A good amount of bourbon is there on the nose with a little bit of a peat/smokey malt. Wasnt a nose basher by anymeans, just a bit light and one dimensional.

Taste- I like the fact that the bourbon is more prevalant on the taste and that the smoke takes a back seat. A little bit of plum and fig came in on the back of the flavors.

Mouth- A lighter medium with a light carbonation. A bit prickly with some residual bourbon/smoke being felt.

Drink- It was okay. Wasnt a wow but wasnt bad. I not being a fan of schwarzbiers came into this with an open mind. I wouldnt mind another bottle to age though.

 844 characters

Photo of JamesStreet
3.89/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Short's Bourbon Barrel Sustenance Black Beer from Short's Brewing Company
3.97 out of 5 based on 205 ratings.
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