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.

FiftyFifty Coffee B.A.R.T. bottle

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.

FiftyFifty Coffee B.A.R.T.

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.

FiftyFifty Coffee B.A.R.T.
BREWERY: FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Truckee, Calif.
STYLE: American Strong Ale (Stout & Barleywine Blend)
ABV: 10
IBU: n/a
PRICE: $17.95
AVAILABLE IN: 22-ounce bottles
BEERS POURED: 1 bottle
There are a lot of good things going on in Coffee B.A.R.T., but the coffee flavor was a bit of a let down. When that is what’s being advertised on the bottle, there’s a certain expectation it will be in the spotlight, which it is, but there is something off about it. Now, this isn’t to say this is a bad beer by any means, the first several sips were really enjoyable, the bitterness didn’t take full effect until after it had warmed for awhile. You still get a lot of great flavors and aromas and with a slight tweak in the coffee this beer could be really great. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending someone giving this one a try though, for the most part it’s a well done beer as you would expect from FiftyFifty since they have really made their mark in the barrel-aged beer world. Definitely give this one a shot if you can track it down and you are a coffee fan.
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