They say boxing is a dead sport… but Brian is leading a comeback. This imperial porter soaked in bourbon barrels can deliver fierce right hooks paired with mandible crushing uppercuts that would knock even the most seasoned craft beer aficionados to the ropes. Brewed by everybody’s favorite gypsy brewer, Mikkeller, I’m very curious to see how this will size up to other barrel aged porters/stouts. Mikkeller does put into the ring a non BA version of Brian, which has its own acclaimed reviews, but I have never been able to get my gloves on it. The only way to get an advnatave of this brew is to get in the first punch… time for them numbers.
Smell: Dark and roasty – grains, chocolate and liquorish. Surprisingly, very little bourbon is jumping out at me on the aroma – I get more oak than anything from the barrels, but sometimes it can be hidden in aroma and overt in taste.
Taste: I realize that this is very viscus. The mouthfeel on this brew is super thick which is the first thing I notice about the beer. Once this liquid oil is on the palate, a bunch of flavors jump out, most prominently roasted grain. This has a very toasty kick which is complemented by roasted almonds, cookie, chocolate, coffee, and mild raisin flavors. I’m really surprised to see the bourbon taking a backseat in this brew, but all the flavors of a porter are the biggest stars of this teku. I get most of the bourbon on the finish with hints of vanilla, figs, smoke, and oak. That bourbon whiskey flavor lasts for a long time after I sip and is just warming enough, however, this beer is anything but hot. The alcohol in here isn’t noticeable at all… maybe on the first few sips, but after that, this is so incredibly easy drinking. for a 12.3% ABV beer, that’s a hard thing to do, hats off to Mikkeller for that.
With that bolstered ABV follows a thicker, full bodied mouthfeel, as I mentioned before. That robust body lends itself to the very mild carbonation in this beer which is appropriate for the style, but something I would label as under carbonated for almost any other beer. Again, its drinkability was great for the big beer that this was.
Overall: This is a fantastic beer, and one that I enjoyed more as I drank more. This beer also was great on the warmer side and really opened up – all of the components gelled well together. I have to give Barrel Aged Brian an A-/A. I personally could have used a bit more bourbon, but it still was a great beer any way you cut it. And for Brian, Mick may be coming sooner than later.