Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More Whisky Ale

My last encounter with an ale matured in whisky casks was very pleasant but left me with a few questions about this style of beer. I outlined a bit of the chemistry involved in whisky maturation, particularly the aromatic organic compounds produced during the toasting of old bourbon and sherry casks. I was still left with the question of where the tart character came from and whether or not the beer would be better without it. Fullers Brewer's Reserve has the same lactic like tartness so I am leaning towards the notion that clearly microbes can reside in ex whisky casks quite happily and impart their own character to beer that is matured in it. This ale is more complex than Tullibardine 1488, the darker colour suggests richer malts and there is a definite English hop character about it. The whisky flavour really kicks in at the end along with warming alcohol. As a bit of a experiment I took a dram of scotch with the last quarter of the bottle to see what this might do to my perception of the flavour. I was glad I did because the scotch reset my palate's perception of the whisky in the beer leaving a complex, well hopped English ale.

Brewdog have fully taken on this style of beer, offering three different stouts matured in whisky barrels that I am aware of. I picked up this Paradox Speyside Cask Matured stout in Edinburgh last year, much to my delight. My recent conversion to smoky beer leaves me hankering after some their Paradox Islay which I happily learned today has turned up in Ireland. I hope that it has more whisky character than this stout because there is little in this beer. There is no doubt that underneath it all a superb imperial stout is a work, giving rich roasted notes and pleasant warmth but it carries none of the tartness or whisky depth of the Fullers or Tullibardine 1488. Speyside scotch is renowned for its easy going nature, often touted as a good introductory malt for those starting out in the very rewarding adventure of single malt appreciation and perhaps this might explain the very mild whisky character to this stout.

8 comments:

Mark said...

The Fuller's Reserve is a super beer. I've got a few tucked away to see how it ages.

I haven't had the Speyside Cask Paradox yet, all the other Paradox's that I've had are excellent IMO. If you want a beer that smacks of the barrel it's been in then try the BrewDog Storm, it's nuts in a marmite kinda way.

The Beer Nut said...

Brewer's Reserve with whisky. Wish I'd thought of that when I was drinking it the other day.

I'll put a review up once I've organised my thoughts into something resembling English. I think you got more out of it than I did, anyway.

Velky Al said...

The only Paradox variant I have been able to get over here is Smokehead - and I love the stuff. Smooth, smokey and ideal for winter.

David Curran said...

THanks for the post Thom. I find barrel aged/whiskey beers really interesting. I'm still not sure I like them.

From your test it seems to be that these beers might just taste like beer with a bit of whiskey added. Or is that an unfair way to describe the effect of barrel aging?

Thom said...

Dave - There is definitely a contribution from the fauna in the barrel that merely dumping whisky into a beer cannot recreate.

I have yet to come across a whisky aged beer that has really taken me. I did try an oak aged stout in Copenhagen which was comparable to French kissing an oak tree (I've never tried, but after that beer really have no need to) It was puckeringly astringent and woody as hell. I have yet to decide if I like it.

Saruman said...

I wrote about the Paradox speyside myself. I liked it but it lacked a peat smoked taste. Since I have some speyside whisky (glenlivit 15 year old) I could easily pick it out.

I have yet to try a smoked beer, would be interesting. I need to get some Islay whisky first as apart from Connemara Whiskey, the only smoked whisky I have had is a bog standard Teachers.

Thom said...

Speyside malts do not have a smoky flavour and I didn't anticipate any smoke in this stout. As I suggests in the post, Speyside casks would be light in flavour because the whisky from them is easy going.

If you want decent smoke you want some Islay Scotch. The best of them are smoky and salty with hints of iodine. The casks used for this whisky generally impart far more flavour to beer matured in them. I picked a few on trips to England recently. It's great value with the exchange rate at the moment.

Bowmore is a good peated malt but the best I have is Laphroaig Quarter Cask, full on smoke and seaside and very tasty. I look forward to trying the Paradox matured in a cask like this.

viagra online said...

I love to drink Whisky and I think that it is so good, I have never drink it but I will try to get a bottle.
some can say me where I can buy one??