The Lost Abbey: Angel Share: Bourbon Barrel (USA: Barley Wine:12.5% ABV)

Visual: Very dark red wine to black, with no head and very little fizz.

Nose: Red wine, vanilla. Smooth creamy chocolate. Immense black cherries, fudge and black treacle.  Almost chewable, yet sweet. Fresh plums and prunes next to the more subtle spiced blood orange. Coconut and digestive biscuits at the outliers.

Body: Very slick. Toffee and treacle. Marzipan. A mix of milk and bitter chocolate depending on the moment.  Raisins, gin and vanilla. Very light hints of prunes, orange and black cherry. Initially very light, but builds.

Finish: Liquorice, aniseed. Blackcherry again mixing with port.  Bitter, but still slick. Bitter chocolate. Evident, but not overpowering alcohol. Coffee liquors. Big toffee and Cadburys cream eggs.

Conclusion: When pouring this I had to check twice to make sure I hadn’t picked up a stout by mistake. It pours heavy and thick with a nose not entirely unlike Good King Henry.

The body dispels that illusion, well partially. It still has massive chocolate, which calls to the Imperial Stout style, but the body has a very stylish smoothness and lightness of touch that even the slickest stout does not match.

Initially it is over smooth and slightly light, which results in the flavour not coming out well. Thankfully it grows, with subtle sweet slickness intertwined into the wine and chocolate body.  It’s still very slick, and seems very much a barley wine in the Port Brewing tradition.

So an almost Barley Stout (or Imperial Barley Stout) beer, subtle and yet rich. Its only weakness it the slow build up required to get the body moving properly. Sliightly sickly sweet, like Cadburys cream eggs or crème brulee, definitely a beer that encourages moderation.

A great beer, with just a few small points against it.

Background: The big 450th tasting note. I’ve heard about the Lost Abbey for a while, and have tried a few beers from the Port Brewing side of the production (Which in the case of older viscosity seems to share a remarkable amount of character with this beer). This beer was picked up from Brewdogs Bar in Scotland, and it was only on reading the back I realised this was the Bourbon aged variant, which is slightly rarer to my knowledge.  Due to its rep as one of ratebeers top 50 beers I decided to save it for one of my event tastings, and with this being the 450th I thought it was a good time to break it out.