Tempest Brewing: The Old Fashioned: Bourbon Barrel Aged (Scotland: IIPA: 9.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy, cloudy, reddened apricot with medium caramel touched white head. On later pours the head grows to be utterly massive.

Nose: Ginger bread. Orange liqueur and orange bitters. Lots of rye bourbon. Crushed mint leaves. Musty hops. Vanilla and toffee.

Body: Vanilla. Orange bitters. Peppermint cream. Rye crackers. Peppery. Gingerbread. Caramel notes. Moderate hop bitterness. Lemon cream. Thick. Bananas. Key lime.

Finish: Peppermint chewing gum. Greenery. Musty hops. Vanilla. Peppery. Light oak. Seville orange and marmalade. Bourbon. Kiwi. Creamy bananas. Sour lime.

Conclusion: Does the concept perfectly? Tick. Just about can still see the DIPA below it? Just about tick. Thick texture? Big tick. Tons of bourbon? Huge tick. Lots of ticks kicking this off.

On the cocktail concept side of things – this has tons of orange, orange bitters with the IIPA hop bitterness, zest marmalade into the finish. Lots of very well defined, rye touched and similarly orange influenced bourbon notes. This is pretty unusual, usually I expect just the vanilla and spirit notes from the bourbon ageing – but you really can taste the range of bourbon notes in here.

That alone would be interesting enough, but if you take your time and let it warm, there is actually even more to this. Initially the body underneath everything is lovely and creamy and thick – with vanilla notes but not much else. A solid delivery system for the concept but not much else. Then, as it warms more hops in kiwi and key lime and the like float out form underneath. Lovely green fruit notes that complement the beer and give contrast to the core conceit.

Now, to enjoy this beer you have to buy into the concept – but it doesn’t exactly hide that. If you do though, it does it so well. Lots of malt character in sweet custard and toffee to compensate for the hop and orange bitters, giving it a lovely balance of tart, bitter, fruity and malty character.

What would normally be a flaw – the muggy nature of the hops, probably due to the ageing, is not too out of place here. The hop flavours aren’t so crisp and prickling, and due to that they seem to merge with the orange bitters styles better. That was either utterly great planning, or bloody good luck in developing this beer.

Any which way, a brilliant idea well done. If you aren’t fundamentally against the concept then, damn, try it.

Background: Another beer it was hard to pick a beer style for – Ratebeer lists it as part of the wide category “American Strong Ale”, The base beer is a Double IPA according to the bottle, and they advise to drink it fresh due to high hop character. I went for Imperial IPA, but it is a toss up really. Anyway this is the aforementioned DIPA, made with orange and ginger, and aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels to mimic the flavours of the “Old Fashioned” cocktail – one I drank my first of in only the past … year I think. I lose track of time easily. It is also in a wax topped bottle. Fuck that wax. Fuck it in the ear. Took me fucking ages to get it off. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to some riot grrrl punk from Heavens To Betsy – “Calculated” to be specific.

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