So here we are, at the end of a journey. 365 days ago I embarked on a journey, a journey which I did not expect to be so difficult. It was a challenge, and I succeeded. I learned a lot too, not just about the beer I was featuring or where it came from, but about myself. I set a goal for myself, began a project and saw it through to the end. It will be bittersweet to see this journey end, but I am ready. I will have an additional post after this one detailing some interesting statistics about my blog. Look for it soon!
Today I am finishing things up with one of my all-time favorite Texas beers from who else, but Rahr & Sons Brewery right here in Fort Worth, TX. One of the purposes of this blog was to feature quality craft beer and breweries from Texas, so I felt it was appropriate to end things with a Texan brew. Also, as a special treat today I will be sampling 2 batches of the same beer, one from 2011 and one from 2010! Glad I have some friends to share it with.
Rahr & Sons Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer
This is one of the most sought-after beers that Rahr & Sons make. I remember several years ago when I had just heard about it, I tried and tried to find it but I was always out of luck. It seemed like every time I went out to try it, the place that had it had run out of it mere minutes before I got there. This dance happened for 2 years in a row until finally I was able to sample some a few year back. Last year Rahr gained the ability to bottle things in the bomber format which is a larger size bottle than the standard American longneck. I wisely saved a bottle of it from last year with the intent to try it side by side with this year’s batch. I am very excited to try it today! Rahr made a concerted effort to increase production and it can be found at some of the higher end beer stores and bars. I’ll begin with the newer batch, and here are some details. This is an English Strong Ale style that holds 8% ABV. Rahr takes recently emptied whiskey barrels and ages their Winter Warmer in them for a period of time. This will impart some additional flavors and aromas that is not already in the base beer. What results is what sits in front of me now, the Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer!
I’ve sampled this particular batch on draught before this season but I have yet to try the bottled version. I will use last year’s glassware for this beer.
This beer pours a very dark brown color that is difficult to see through. A small amount of light comes through but not much. A fizzy beige head is formed on top but does not last very long. There is also a fair amount of lacing on the edge of the glass as well.
The aroma is…WOW! Lots of woody notes, bourbon, chocolate and dark malts. Light bit of roasted notes. Very aromatic indeed.
The flavor is fantastic as well. Dark roasted malts mix well with sweet chocolate flavors. The finish is where the aging process comes in, adding woody notes and touches of bourbon. Man this is good. I highly suggest seeking it out if you can find it!
This bottle is a year old, as old as my blog. It is fitting that this will be the final beer I feature on this blog. Let’s go out in style. This one will be poured in this year’s glassware as well as the 2009 glassware, bookending this batch.
As it is the same beer only a different batch, the appearances are very similar if not exact. This beer pours a very dark brown color that is difficult to see through. A small amount of light comes through but not much. A fizzy beige head is formed on top but does not last very long. Light amount of lacing.
The aroma however is very different from the fresh batch. There is hardly any bourbon scents on the nose, which was very prominent in the new one. Instead it has a large chocolatey aroma and dark malts. Light roasted notes as well. Lots of wood shines through.
The flavor is also very different from the fresh batch. Dry and woody with some sharp flavors that sit on the back of the throat. Almost a bit tart but not sour by any means. Chocolate and wood notes are on top here with little bourbon. It leaves a large tingle on the palate that warms all the way down. I think I prefer the fresh batch more but this one isn’t too bad either.
Well there you have it folks! This blog is in the books. I’m finishing up my final glass with a small tear in my eye. It’s been fun, challenging, stressful and enlightening. Glad to have done it but it’s time to say goodbye. And for the last time…I bid you Cheers!