This "American" quad was the first of the four clean barrel-aged beers I brewed during September and October 2012. It spent three weeks in a 5 gallon (20L actually) American oak barrel that previously held Balcones Rumble ("Made from the finest local wildflower honey, mission figs, turbinado sugar and natural Texas Hill Country spring water."). The pairing of those flavors with the caramelized dark fruitiness of a strong Belgian style beer was too obvious to pass over.
Rumble Barrel Quad
Appearance – Darker than a standard quad, downright porter-esque. The D-180 candi syrup added more color than I expected, I could easily drop the .6% Carafa Special II from a rebrew. The dense tan head displays terrific retention.
Smell – Lots going on in the nose. Dark and dried fruits especially, but some brighter banana bread notes too. There are lightly boozy barrel-character supporting the aromas of the candi syrup and dark caramel malt. As it warms rum-varietal alcohol emerges and the nose takes a savory turn, ever so faint tomato paste.
Taste – The flavor leads with sweet caramel, toasted grain, raisins, and figs. Despite the color, it doesn’t taste like a Belgian interpretation of a porter or stout. The oak lends vanilla, light coconut, and damp wood to the finish. Amazing what the beer picked up in just three weeks of barrel-aging. The alcohol is still slightly hot, it’ll benefit from at least another six months in the bottle.
Mouthfeel – Solid mildly prickly carbonation buoys the slightly sticky body. Slight tannins from the oak prevent the stickiness from being cloying. Feels substantial compared to many native Belgian beers.
Drinkability & Notes – Certainly not a session beer, but the sweetness does a good job balancing the barrel character. This is one of those strong beers that is “worth” the high alcohol, there are no 5% ABV beers that taste like this. I wish I’d brewed enough of the base beer to bottle a six-pack without time spent in the barrel to compare. The match is almost too good, making it hard to determine where the various flavors originate. Thanks again to Balcones for sending the Rumble barrel to me. They’ve got a variety of beers (including this one) on the way to them as I type!