Stillwater Folklore - The Tale Of Van Winkle

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The tale of this beer begins back at Stillwater's first anniversary, when they made a Belgian Strong Dark in the mold of a foreign export stout. That beer was called 25 To One, and has since been tweaked a bit, renamed Folklore, and moved into Stillwater's regular lineup. In addition, this is one of the base beers for their barrel aging program, and several different versions have been made. What I have here is a beer aged in 20 year old Pappy Van Winkle barrels. Only 1200 bottles made, a steep price tag, and a gorgeous minimalist label, but alas, I found myself a little disappointed by the contents of said bottle:

Stillwater Folklore - The Tale of Van Winkle

Stillwater Folklore - The Tale Of Van Winkle - Pours a very dark, almost black color with a skimpy, light brown head. Smell is all about bourbon and oak (maybe some coconut from the barrel aging too), with just the faintest hint of roasted malts. Similarly, the taste is comprised mostly of bourbon, with oak falling into the background and whatever roasty smoke character exists is almost completely muted. The bourbon doesn't feel like it'd be overpowering either, but it's really the flavor that is emphasized the most here. Mouthfeel is surprisingly thin for a barrel aged brew, well carbonated, some boozy burn from the bourbon. Overall, while certainly not a bad brew, it's a bit disappointing. Bourbon is the star here, with the base beer contributing little. I like me some bourbon, but this just isn't balanced very well and the base beer doesn't seem to stand up to the barrel aging process very well... B-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.4% ABV bottled (375 ml capped). Drank out of a snifter on 11/24/12.

Opinions on BA and Ratebeer seem to be wildly divergent, but I'm definitely not the only one who thought the bourbon overpowered the base beer. I still like Stillwater quite a bit, and some of their other barrel aged beers seem to have a better reputation, so I'll be keeping my eye out for those.

4 Comments

I had a dram of Pappy Van Winkle 15 at a friend's...it was pretty amazing, but I don't like the price tag or the super-hype around it. There are some pretty amazing bourbons for a hell of a lot less money that aren't so hard to come by =/

It's been a bit since I've had a bourbon aged beer, so my taste memory is fuzzy...is it that distinctive that using a particular bourbon would be noticeable? I don't ever remember tasting anything other than...well, bourbon-y notes.

Still, the variety of cool wood aging and finishes in beer, scotch, even bourbon nowadays is pretty amazing.

Thanks for the link! And I agree with your assessment even though me trying it came after about 5 other beers. Good to know I wasn't crazy. It wasn't a bad beer by any means, but it definitely felt like all bourbon to me. For the cost, I would have felt a little let down if I had paid it.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark published on December 4, 2012 10:08 PM.

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