Jason Spaulding and Brett VanderKamp founded New Holland Brewing in 1996. By 2006, production was just under 5,000 barrels and by 2014, they had rocketed to over 30,000 barrels. New Holland has since brewed a vast array of beers including some awesome brews from its High Gravity Series such as Black Tulip Tripel, Night Tripper Imperial Stout, Pilgrim’s Dole Wheatwine and many variations of Dragon’s Milk, including the bourbon barrel stout which I hold in my hands.
Made with 2 row, Munich, caramel, crystal, black, chocolate and flaked barley malts, and spiked with Glacier and Nugget hops, this already sounds complex and I am ready to jump in and release the bourbon barrel goodness of this year old stout.
As the top is popped and I pour it into the glass, I get big aromas of bourbon, semi-sweet chocolate, some spiciness and a big dose of oakiness. I continue to enjoy the essences and also receive some creamy coolness on the nose.
The color is deep and dark, not allowing any light through, but producing a great, light tan finger of head which dissipates quickly leaving only small traces of spotty, droopy lacing.
The flavor is big and bold with plenty of bourbon, oak, semi-sweet chocolate, vanilla cream, a touch of smoke and a great balance of hops to finish the first sampling. As I continue through this big beer, the participants remain quite balanced and only start to become a touch disarrayed as the beer warms.
The warming causes all of the goodness to remain, but allows it to become a competition to be the top flavor. The 11 percent ABV now becomes a factor, and I assume that that is what is causing a little confusion in the balance. Dragon’s Milk still makes a statement, but now I am not sure what that statement is. Bourbon, oak, chocolate and vanilla are still there, but they are confusing and continue to battle for dominance.