Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Beer Advent Calendar Day 5- Mikkeller George! Barrel Aged (Bourbon Edition)

Good evening all. Day 5 has brought more cold weather to the South West, so the offering behind tonight's cardboard door is rather serendipitous; it's George! Barrel Aged (Bourbon Edition), an Imperial Stout from Mikkeller (Copenhagen, Denmark). This bad boy started off life as regular George! before being put into bourbon barrels for 6 months, and comes in a 25cl bottle so you already know it's going to pack a decent punch. Weighing in at an epic 12.12% ABV, I'm hoping it will help me deal with the cold! Review after the pics....

George! Barrel Aged (Bourbon Edition) (12.12% ABV) pours a jet black colour with a short-lived dark brown head that settles to a thin halo around the inside of the glass. The aroma is amazing, with bourbon, licorice, chocolate, brown sugar, coffee and dark fruits, enveloped by the volatility of the barrel-ageing. The bourbon hits first with the usual woody vanilla notes and the accompanying alcoholic power, and never really relents throughout the course of the beer. The more subtle aromas compete for attention and pop up randomly, with the most common being the chocolate and fruits (mainly blackcurrant, and possibly even a bit of raspberry). The whole olfactory front is very rich, and has the dark candy sugar/marzipan sweetness of a Belgian Quad but with a nice boozy edge; damn good stuff so far! The taste is just as complex, with coffee, chocolate, bourbon, licorice, candy sugar, burley/perique tobacco, caramel and some raspberry. The bourbon is just as powerful as it was in the aroma, but lets up earlier this time and allows the other flavours to make themselves known. The raspberry flavour is surprisingly tart, but this works well with the booze and the roasted malt contributions. The chocolate and coffee are only noticeable through retro-olfaction, which also produces some burnt toast notes in the background. The power of the alcohol effectively cleanses the palette, so once this has subsided the only thing remaining in the finish is the bourbon and some light tartness. Towards the end of drinking, when the carbonation is at its lowest, some yeast extract and fortified wine flavours come through. Although it can be garnered from the alcohol content, this is definitely a beer to be sipped and savoured; saying this, it's still very drinkable and none of the flavours cloy. The mouthfeel is slightly thick and the beer is lightly carbonated, which is perfect for a beer of this strength and intensity. Overall, this is a fantastic beer that benefits immensely from the bourbon barrel-ageing, creating a myriad of balanced flavours in a very drinkable package. Highly recommended, and probably one of the best barrel-aged stouts I've had in a long time. Similar beers include Mikkeller's Black Hole BA Bourbon and Port Brewing's Older Viscosity.

Until next time....

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