Jack’s Abby Brewing was started in 2011 by three brothers; Jack, Eric and Sam Hendler. Although newer to the brewing world, the brewery has quickly established itself as a mainstay in the northeast craft beer scene and is also garnering some attention nationwide.

The most interesting thing about the brewery is not necessarily the beer’s they brew, but how they brew them. Jack’s Abby does not do ales, they practices a form of brewing called, “lagering.” While most brewers prefer to brew ales, which ferment at higher temperatures (65-75°F), which is able to more quickly convert the sugar into alcohol, Jack’s Abby’s process of ferments at much lower temperatures (at 52°F) for one week and then is “lagered” at 32°F until the beer is ready to drink.

According to Jack’s Abby:

The result of the lagering process creates a smoother, fuller, more complete flavored beer…Jack’s Abby brews lagers, and only lagers, to give Americans the opportunity to love a beer that is loved the world over. We want to bring lager back—with quality, locally sourced ingredients and mindful brewing practices—we want to make lagers the beer lover’s first choice once again.

Jack s Abby Barrel Aged Framinghammer bottle

The Barrel Aged Framinghammer1 from Jack’s Abby is an interesting offering, as we have all learned, it’s a lager, not an ale and is classified by them as a Baltic porter; which is characterized as a high alcohol and sweet, robust porter.

There have been three versions of the Barrel Aged Framinghammer; in 2012 it was only available on tap and in growlers and was aged in Jim Beam barrels, in 2013 it became available by bottle and the beer was aged in Willett barrels and this past year and the version I am reviewing was aged in Four Roses barrels.

It should also be noted that besides the regular barrel-aged version there are four other variants of this beer which are all barrel aged as well.

  • Cocoa-Nut — aged with coconut and cacao nibs
  • Coffee — aged with coffee beans
  • PB& J — aged with actual peanut butter and jelly
  • Vanilla — aged with vanilla beans

Barrel Aged Framinghammer pours jet black with a small tan head and very small tight bubbles that are present in a ring around on the outside of the beer and hugging the edges of the glass. It has an almost nitrous-like quality and there are some small bubbles that float up the sides from the bottom, I assume that some of these qualities are due to the lagering process.

The smell is a quintessential barrel aged dark beer, roasted malts, some nuttiness, brown sugar oatmeal dominate the nose. There is also some barrel earthiness, slight booziness, oak and a little vanilla in the background.

Jack s Abby Barrel Aged Framinghammer

The initial taste is sweet brown sugar that then gives way to a blend of dark and semi-sweet chocolate. There is a good amount of barrel presence as well, which lends some whiskey, oak and vanilla notes to the roasty and malty beer backbone. Barrel Aged Framinghammer leaves my mouth really dry and there is a slight tingle on my tongue from espresso like bitterness.

Jack's Abby Barrel Aged Framinghammer
BREWERY: Jack's Abby Brewing
LOCATION: Framingham, Mass.
STYLE: Baltic porter
ABV: 10 percent
IBU: 55
PRICE: $8
RELEASE DATE: Jan. 16, 2014
AVAILABLE IN: 500ml bottles
BEERS POURED: One
Overall this was a really solid beer from Jack’s Abby, I personally enjoyed the variants more than this one, especially the Cocoa-Nut, because there was a little more depth in the beer with the addition of the adjuncts. This was a very well done beer though, and it stood out from other big barrel-aged porters and stouts because of the lagering process, which made for a different experience in both mouth feel and way the flavors were expressed. It was very drinkable beer for having a double digit ABV. The whole series is truly fantastic and is something I would recommend seeking out if big barrel aged beers are your thing. It should also be noted that this beer is $8 and the variants are $10, which is one of the best dollar/quality ratios you will find out of any beer on the market.
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