Boulevard's Bourbon Barrel Quad

At the risk of making this blog way too heavy on the beer and me look like an alcoholic (I'm not, really - I just play one on weekends), here is another beer post/review.

I set out last week to find a bottle of Full Sail's new Top Sail product, but the stores I visited didn't have it in stock. Wifey pointed out this new arrival to me - Boulevard Brewing's (from Kansas City) Bourbon Barrel Quad. It came in a 750 ml bottle with a cork, cost about $13, and promised all sorts of goodness. Apparently the beer was stored in bourbon barrels for aging. This is a limited release they have done a couple times before and part of their Smokestack series.

Now, while intrigued, I also admit to being a bit skeptical. I've had beers aged in various kinds of barrels before, and they almost never seemed to have much of the taste at all from whatever the barrel held previously. So while it was promising, I didn't necessarily think I'd get much bourbon flavor. And yes, I do like all the flavors of bourbon - the caramel, the vanilla, etc. - even though I can't say I'm the kind of person who loves to knock back bourbon shots in my spare time (despite the fact my cupboard has a couple different bottles...).

I figured Super Bowl Sunday would be a good day to pop this cork - literally - so I got it out just before game time. Getting this thing open was kind of difficult. It had a cork, but it was mushroom-shaped and a little soft. I tried using my wine bottle corkscrew and only succeeded in breaking off the top part. Thankfully the second attempt got out the rest of the cork, and even though it was sufficiently shredded I didn't drop any in the bottle. Well, at least not that I noticed.

A small word of caution here: If you plan on drinking this whole bottle, scuttle your plans for leaving the house for the rest of the day. It's just short of two full pints and 11.8% alcohol - so yeah, guaranteed to knock you on your ass if you let it.

The pour was very smooth. It's a dark amber color with a nice bit of head, and it literally smelled like an open bottle of bourbon, but without that 80 proof bite. The caramel, vanilla, and various little fruity tidbits were all clear - I think I got some honey too. I was pleasantly surprised because, as I said, I wasn't expecting the bourbon to come through very clearly.

So how did it taste? In a word, excellent. There was just the slightest bit of hoppiness, but it also had a tiny citrus crispness to go with the bourbon flavors. It's literally tasted like some of the bourbon caramel we made a couple weeks back, but if you added a little bit of malt, hops, and a tad bit of carbonation to it.

I decided to leave the bottle out of the fridge after I poured the first glass, to allow it to warm up (since apparently that's when you get all the best flavors). What I did notice with the second and third (half) glasses is the crisp hoppiness seemed to dissipate completely, leaving only the smooth bourbon flavors. Honestly, it was just very, very good.

But what kind of bourbon was it? I thought for sure it was Maker's Mark, but the description is already gone from their website so I emailed them to see if I was right. No such luck - they used a mix of Jack Daniels, Templeton Rye, and Heaven Hill barrels. Oh well, it was just a guess - apparently my bourbon palette isn't that refined.

I would absolutely recommend this, but only if you like the flavors of bourbon. If you don't, this will just nauseate you. Me, I like it...thinking about picking up another bottle to save.

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