In 2010, Tom Sullivan and Paul Karns launched a homebrewers co-operative and purchased a half-barrel pilot brewing system to further their brewing knowledge and experience. Kevin O’ Leary joined the group and the three of them began brewing with other members of the co-op. The beers that the trio produced were so accepted by the community, that in 2012, the partners came up with a business plan and started to find investors to pursue their dream. In July of 2013 Ardent Craft Ales was launched and the journey began.
Today I am reviewing Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Rye. Very little information is available on this beer. Per Chris Rommel, the brewery’s production manager, it was first released in 2015 and each year, different barrels are used in the aging process. The barrels that were used this year are a mystery, as the distiller that provided the barrels preferred to remain anonymous. Ardent has used Heaven Hill and Buffalo Trace barrels in the past for some of its offerings.
Poured from a 750ml bottle, a deep, almost pitch black color emerges with a solid, light tan head and sporadic lacing. Aromas jump out with dark fruits, particularly raisins and there is plenty of sweet, roasted malts, leather, tobacco and deep undertones of other assorted dried fruits.
Taste is full of heavy malts, roasted coffee, bitter chocolate and wet leather. There is a decent hop bitterness that is present, but does not overpower the dark, malty goodness that is the backbone of Ardent Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Rye. There is a slight alcohol sear in the middle of the taste, right in the center of the tongue and also a light feel of unburned cigarette tobacco.
Balance is perfect for the style and all components are equally as important and share responsibilities as a team. The finish is roasty and dark, with a pleasant coating of prunes and figs and a touch of semi-sweet chocolate and heavily roasted coffee.