Ommegang’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Adoration Like A Campfire In The Mouth
Dear God, it’s like someone poured a campfire into my mouth.
Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up a second.
Did you know that beer and whiskey have really similar starts? It’s all about boiling grains in water to get their sugars ready for fermenting. Bourbon in particular tends to favor corn, which really cements it as an American drink. Many beers also use corn as an adjunct. This likely has something to do with why a shot and a beer go so well together.
For all their similarities, there certainly are a lot of differences. Anyone who has tasted both can tell that. After that initial boil, the two processes diverge quite a bit. Beer gets combined with hops and a variety of yeasts, which largely define its taste. Bourbon is fermented with the grain right in it and then distilled. Afterward, it’s aged in charred white oak barrels. That flavor you enjoy when you drink bourbon? That, my friends, is wood.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, one of my favorite things is beer that has been aged in barrels. It tends to take on a deep flavor that my palette finds enjoyable. As an added bonus, barrel-aged brews also tend to have a pretty high ABV, making them perfect for cold, snowy nights. They definitely fall into my hibernation beer category.
While I’ve enjoyed brews from many types of barrels, I have a special love for the ones that sat in bourbon. They’re smoky, spicy and just so delicious. It seems that IPAs or stouts often get this treatment, as their already heartier flavor profiles stand up well to the strong flavors the barrels impart on them.
Ommegang decided to go a different route with its Bourbon Barrel-Aged Adoration, however, using a Belgian strong dark ale. If nothing else, that means it’ll be boozy and spicy.
The pour had the color of a cloudy cola. The little head it did have did not linger, and it had a thinner body than I expected. Bourbon certainly was present in the nose, presenting itself with a good amount of spiciness. A lot of the other scents combined into a bit of a fruitcake-like experience with sugar and a variety of dried fruits. Add to that some spices, such as ginger and nutmeg, and it turned a bit festive.
The taste at first came across as just a lot of charred wood and boozy burn. I loved everything about it. You know that first breath you let out after taking a shot? How it’s spicy and burns a little bit? After it settled down a bit, there was candied fruit and cherries floating around the bourbon. There also was some coconut and caramel. Floating amidst all of this were spices such as coriander, ginger and nutmeg.
At 11 percent ABV, this would be a great brew for aging. A good year or so on the shelves might diminish some of that alcoholic burn and let some of the even more subtle flavors really shine. That said, I am in no way mad about it in its current iteration. This is a big, delicious beer that packs one heck of a punch. It’s like someone soaked a dense, dried, fruit-filled bread in Kentucky bourbon and then slapped me with it. It’s the best campfire I’ve ever had in my mouth.