Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tasting Notes: Bourbon Barrel Wee Heavy by The Mad Fermentationist

In addition to the Pannepot Clone sent to us by Mike over at the Mad Fermentationist as part of our homebrewed beer exchange, we also received a bottle of Mike’s Bourbon Barrel Wee Heavy. With Tom being in town, we got the opportunity to taste the beer together (during a brew session) and below are the notes we took during the tasting.

(It should be noted that I was suffering from an unseasonable cold during this particular weekend, so the majority of the aroma notes come from Tom’s perception, given my disabled nose).

* * *

Appearance: Upon pouring, the beer presents a nice deep amber-red hue and is very clear without any detectable haze. It possesses a small off-white head of tiny bubbles, which dissipated relatively quickly.

Aroma: The initial waft is dominated by bourbon and vanilla, which was as expected. Tucked in behind is a bit of caramel and brown sugar sweetness that can be picked out periodically. There is no clue detectible sour aroma at all.

Flavor: The first taste provides a rising acidity / sourness, similar to perhaps fresh lemon juice.  This sour flavor initially blankets all of the other flavors. In the mid palate, the sourness subsides and reveals a mild malt flavor with a slight hint of caramel. The beer has no bourbon or vanilla flavors that are detected and has no residual sweetness. Additionally, the aftertaste is very clean with as the acidity seems to clear the tongue nicely.

Mouthfeel: We were pleasantly surprised that the beer maintained a medium body that was not as thin as would be expected from the sour character. Carbonation seemed appropriate and the beer finishes nice and dry.

Overall: What an interesting beer! The taste (sour with no bourbon/vanilla) is almost completely disconnected from the aroma (bourbon/ vanilla with no hint of sour). The beer itself was such a pleasant enigma and it provided great conversation as we drank it. The acidity and sourness kept cleansing the tongue after each sip, which prevented palate fatigue.

* * *

What Tom and I both appreciated about this beer, other than the aroma/flavor disconnect described above, is the serendipitous path that created this soured Wee Heavy. It is a great example of adapting to uncontrollable changes, letting things run their course, and keeping an open mind with regards to the results. While a clean version of a Wee Heavy was the initial intent of this brew, bugs from a neighboring barrel quickly set the beer down a different path. It created something unplanned for, but in hindsight, something certainly worth appreciating.

Cheers to the unintended! And thanks again Mike!



"What contemptible scoundrel has stolen the cork to my lunch?”
- W. C. Fields

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