FiftyFifty Brewing Co. was founded by Andy and Alicia Barr, who both stepped down from tech jobs at Hewlett Packard to try their shot at opening a brewery.
They chose Truckee, Calif. because of the small town and tight knit community that it has. FiftyFifty really cemented itself in the craft beer world with its Eclipse series, which is a 10 percent ABV stout that is treated in a large variety of ways. Different barrels are used along with the addition of adjuncts, they are then, bottled and waxed to perfection with a different colored wax for each one.
They started the Eclipse Series in 2007, then in 2009 they began something called, B.A.R.T., or “barrel aged real tasty.” These are beers that are blended based on what the brewer is feeling at that time. There have been 13 variations since the project began, the one I am reviewing is B.A.R.T Coffee, which is a blend of their imperial stout and barleywine that is brewed with honey then aged in Elijah Craig 12 year bourbon barrels. It was released as part of Brewer’s Intent, the brewery’s membership club.
Coffee B.A.R.T pours a very dark brown and has an ever present head, the carb never fully goes away. The beer is very dark, but is opaque at the top of the beer. The head is very light brown, it looks very much like a very strong cup of coffee.
I’m getting a really great aromas from the beer, a lot of oak, burnt sugar, molasses, coffee, vanilla and sweetness. I’m not picking up a huge amount of bourbon on this, but think that it is getting overpowered by the coffee and blending with the other aromas. It is a really great smelling beer though and it doesn’t smell too overpowering.
I can definitely taste the sweetness from the barleywine, it has a very distinct malty sweetness at the beginning. I am also get big notes of chocolate and an ashy-burnt wood flavor that is very strong, i.e. the barrel has really given a lot of character to the beer. There is also some oak that is present as well and there are flavors that make you think bourbon barrels, but there isn’t anything there that would slaps you in the face with a big bourbon flavor. The coffee flavor is slightly more bitter than I like, it doesn’t have a smooth coffee presence, but tastes more like a coffee that has sat out too long and has developed some an astringent bitter taste. This only gets more prominent as it warms up.