Name: Houtenhamer (2018)
Brewer: Burial Beer Co. (United States)
Style: Specialty Wood-Aged Beer (Base Style: Imperial Stout)
Review Year: 2020
This 2018 vintage of Houtenhamer, the “double” barrel-aged Imperial Stout by Burial Beer Co. (North Carolina), was unearthed in 2020. This menacing dark ale was aged initially in Bourbon barrels for six months and then racked into fresh Bourbon barrels for another six. Its final transformation involved being blended with a young stout.
This beer is being evaluated as a Specialty Wood-Aged Beer (33B) with Imperial Stout (20C) as the base style in the context of the 2015 Beer Style Guidelines of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP). The most current version of the guidelines can be found on the BJCP website.
Deep brown with a reddish hue, almost black. Brown head, but flats out quickly. Rich vanilla, chocolate, and boozy-yet-smooth Bourbon on the nose. Medium-full-bodied, chewy with low carbonation. The body is marginally thinner than most beers of this style; the barrel-conditioning likely contributed to this. Tempered malty-sweetness melds with roasty dark chocolate; smooth boozy whisky comes secondarily. Low peppery and oaky character creep in late. Low sweetness akin to maple syrup in the aftertaste, with hints of malty-sweetness and boozy bourbon; slightly sticky and dry. Very smooth and drinkable; no astringency despite being barrel-aged. Alcohol is warming, well-integrated, but not harsh.
Outstanding. Houtenhamer was reviewed two years after it was released. The result is this rich and flavorful dark ale that really showcased a finely-tuned balance of malt sweetness, roasty dark chocolate backbone, and boozy whisky– all these through a superbly drinkable and very smooth manner. Its age may have contributed further to the smoothness of this beer but we can only infer. Opinion: this 2018 Houtenhamer is probably one of the best barrel-aged Imperial Stouts we have reviewed to date.
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