The overall growth of the craft beer industry over the past 10 years has brought a lot of benefits to the consumer. A greater number of options not only gives the end consumer more to choose from but also raises the overall quality of the beer. With so many choices breweries that are not on top of their game tend to fade away, whereas back in the day that wasn’t always the case.
The competition has also driven innovation and creativity with brewers looking for ways to stand out and make a name for themselves. One of the lesser consumer benefits is the availability of rarer and high-end brews. Many of the beers I used to trade for back in the day sit on shelves in my local bottle shops gathering dust. While the brewers might not look at this as a positive for me personally, I love being able to easily go back and try the hype beers from years past as my palette evolves.
A great example of this is the extreme series from Dogfish Head. In the early 2000s I received a bottle of 120 Minute IPA as well as a bottle of Worldwide Stout and I was so excited to try the high ABV beers I had heard so much about. I recall inviting a few beer nerd friends over so we can all try them together and I was quite excited about the experience.
Fast forward about 10 years and not only can I walk into my local big-box liquor store and easily pick up a four-pack of either beer, but there’s now a barrel-aged version of Worldwide Stout. It has been many years since I have had either offering and I have yet to try the barrel-aged version but that ends today.
Thanks to Dogfish Heads’ massive distribution—all 50 states—I was able to pick up a bottle of Bourbon Barrel-Aged Worldwide Stout. The beer clocks in somewhere between 15-18 percent, but oddly there is no exact ABV percentage on the bottle nor the Dogfish Head website. It does however mention that the beer is aged in freshly emptied barrels from Heaven Hill.
Bourbon Barrel-Aged World Wide Stout pours somewhere between black and the darkest of browns but with deep reddish hues at the edges when held to the light. A faint ring of cola-colored bubbles form only to dissipate in seconds. The aroma starts with noticeable bourbon, molasses, and vanilla. It is a quite pleasant nose and the ABV does not come through as much as expected based on the high ABV. Notes of tobacco and chocolate fill in the gaps a bit as it warms in the glass.
My first few sips bring a slightly oily mouthfeel and a pretty assertive barrel presence. Vanilla, oak and boozy bourbon are the most noticeable characteristics. The molasses comes through and the palate as well a bit of dark roasted malts, coffee and just a hint of sweetness. The finish is where the alcohol really crashes the party. While not overly sharp the drying alcohol is there and lingers well after the sip is finished. Also, the faint sweetness lingers a bit, but it is more of an alcohol sweetness and not unfermented sugars. The dark roasted malts also pop back up after the sip is finished leaving a little calling card to remember the beer by as if all the alcohol previously wasn’t enough.