Bourbon Baby

Brewdog: Bourbon Baby (Scotland: Scotch Ale: 5.8% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black.

Nose: Vanilla toffee. Coffee bitterness. Fudge. Hazelnut coffee cake. Chocolate. Honey.

Body: Coffee. Treacle. Bourbon. Raisins. Charring and oak. Sour mash. Brown sugar.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Vanilla. Charring. Sour mash bourbon. Toffee. Coffee cake. Shortbread. Toasted teacakes.

Conclusion: Ok, now Brewdog have turned out a metric shit-ton of Scotch Ales recently. As a not particularly big fan of scotch ales myself I have found them a bit hit and miss. Turns out, after all this time, all they needed was a touch of bourbon ageing.

Seriously. I would wonder if this thing has been aged in Jack Daniels casks as it has a tone of that sour mash style except 1) I’ve tasted JD aged beer before and it never seems to pick up that element and 2) Technically JD is Tennessee whiskey not bourbon. So it is unlikely, but not impossible.

Anyway, upfront though it is the bourbon actually adds a massive amount of class and smoothness. There is a wonderful rich sweet and complex aroma with hazelnut coffee cake and vanilla chocolate notes. The body then contrast the sweetness with that sour mash style and the base scotch ale’s raisins and charring. All together it creates a multi layered and challenging take on the style.

This really could be viewed as a rallying call for the use of bourbon ageing, as if brewers needed the encouragement. It pushes so much of the bourbon up front, but the scotch ale always seems to recover and come through anew.

It is not going to be for everyone, the sour mash is heavy, the charred bitterness punching, yet for me it comes together in a wonderful medley of notes. With its subtle vanilla notes, huge chocolate and coffee and harsh sour mash this is a wonderful brutal yet classy mix. Very good fun.

Background: Ok, so Brewdog collaborated to make a burger with so much beer in it that you need ID to buy it. Then make a beer to go with that. A beer aged in Bourbon casks. That is just decadent. I approve. I didn’t get to eat the burger but at Brewdog Bristol I did manage to try the beer. One out of two isn’t bad. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.