Saturday, April 25, 2009

Fort Collins Brewery Barrel Licked Bock review

Fort Collins Brewery Barrel Licked BockSpecial releases from my local breweries don't come around that often and when they do I don't hesitate to pick up a bottle or two. This case is no exception. The Fort Collins Brewery in northern Colorado released their new Barrel Licked Bock this month in 22oz bomber bottles. This brew is a oak aged smoked bock that has been 14 months in the making. This brew had been cellared for a year and then place in oak barrels for 8 weeks. The resulting brew is a potent 10.4% ABV beer that I knew I had to approach with some respect.

Fort Collins Brewery (FCB) has been known for their smoked beer offerings. I had a good idea what to expect with this brew after having their other smoked beers like Z Lager and Kidd Lager, in the past. FCB describes their Barrel Licked Bock as having "a hint of vanilla and an ephemeral charred note and a warm smoky flavor".

The FCB Barrel Licked Bock poured a dark mahogany with ruby edges. The pour yielded a 2 finger tall tan head with a creamy lacing along the glass. The beer appeared to resemble a brandy due to it's red overtones. Held up to the light, I could see this beer was clear if looked at from the bottom, yet straight on I couldn't see through it.

The aroma of this beer was unique. I could smell a smokiness to this beer with a subtle partnering of oak. The aromas intensified as I let this beer warm up a bit. Just the smoke scent in the air along with the high ABV gave me a warming affect even before tasting it. FCB's smoked malts give me a sensation of roasted meat, almost like smelling a jar of bacon bits. I could get a slight hint of sweet malt as well in the air.

It was difficult to detect any hint of vanilla from the oak. I opened up a small bottle of vanilla extract from my kitchen to compare aromas. The smoke in this beer hid whatever vanilla traces there might have been here.

The initial sensation of this beer in my mouth gave me a tangy sensation. It seemed to react to the tip of my tongue. It felt smooth and creamy and modestly carbonated. This beer was no light weight by any means. This had body.

The taste gave me a combination of sweet caramel malt, smoke and oak overtones. The oak and smoke were mild in comparison to some other brews but just enough to be noticeable. The taste initially was surprising and became better the more I tasted it. It took a bit getting used to but after a while I really started enjoying this brew.

Smoked beers can be a challenge for some to enjoy, but if you know what to expect these beers are quite enjoyable. The high alcohol in this brew definitely left me with a huge warming effect. This beer seemed to permeate my skin and left my skin smelling like a campfire. Even my wife could tell that my beer was smokey an hour after I drank it. Ya, it was that potent.

I did notice that near the bottom of the bottle, the beer seemed to be a bit sweeter than at the start of the tasting. I think this is natural as the beer warms up. Don't serve this brew too cold as it will mask some of the flavors.

I enjoyed sampling this brew. I think in the future I'll stick to just 1 small glass of this rather than trying to finish an entire 22oz bottle as it is quite strong. Good none the less. I'll give this a respectable thumbs up with a caution flag for the oak and smoke and ABV.

Related articles:
- Fort Collins Brewery Big Shot review
- Fort Collins Brewery tasting room
- FCB pours new brews for September

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