Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Coney Island Human Blockhead

Type: Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Bock
Origin: New York, NY
Price: $12.89/22oz
ABV: 10.0%
NSP: 5.04
website (it's a painful site to look at so I didn't bother digging for a beer-specific link)

This is the second beer I've had from Shmaltz.  The first was a numbingly sweet strong ale, a headache in a glass.  And then John brings this one over- a bourbon-barrel aged imperial fucking bock (no, the bottle doesn't specifically say 'fucking bock', but it probably should).  If there's a beer style that I'm predisposed to dislike, it's a bourbon-barrel-aged bock.  I don't tend to like either bourbon aging or bocks individually, so put 'em together and I'm not hopeful.

It looks a bit like Coke, and it smells like a maple syrup-infused Jack & Coke.  Not much else to say about the aroma- sweet, sweet, sweet, and bourbon.

The flavor is unexpectedly agreeable.  Normally, I find the results of bourbon-barrel aging somewhat cloying, particularly if the bourbon's from a distillery that isn't particularly awesome or if the brewers just let the barrel flavors rampage unchecked.  But the bourbon flavor and the sweetness in this are about as restrained as they could be when laid on a bock- and it's obvious that they've used a good quality bourbon.  And now I understand- the label says they used Buffalo Trace barrels for this one...and that happens to be one of my two favorite distilleries on the planet (along with the glorious Ardbeg).  The bock is pretty much here to provide a platform for the bourbon to Michael Flatley all over, and provides only token flavor contribution. 

It seems to me that this is a beer that's intended to show how barrel-aging, if properly applied, can produce a delightful new type of drunk-making beverage that's not whiskey, but not altogether beer either.  And it also shows that if you used barrels from a really good distillery, the flavors that are imparted to the beer are delicious.  Put that together with brewers clever enough to know when enough's enough, and you've got a pretty tasty little brew.

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