Arcadia Barrel Aged Shipwreck Porter

What. A. Beer.

Arcadia Shipwreck Porter

Arcadia Shipwreck Porter

If you’ve read more than a couple of our posts, you’re probably well-aware that I’m a big fan of darker, maltier beers (i.e. porters), and Paul and I are both true lovers of a good bourbon-aged ale. So, this was a beer I was really excited to try (though that’s worked against a couple beers in the recent past). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it in Ann Arbor – and in my search I realized there’s really no good bottle shop in Ann Arbor. There are a few that are OK, but nothing that you go into expecting to find whatever you’re looking for, regardless of how rare or new it is.

Fortunately, Paul was able to find this beer in Chicago at the always-excellent Binny’s. He brought a bottle with him to Ann Arbor prior to heading back west for the Winter Beer Festival, and we kicked off an epic, boozy weekend by trying this bad boy out.

At first, I was really taken aback by the twist-off cap. When you go through the care of sealing every bottle with wax, it seems counter-intuitive to bother with twist-offs. On the other hand, I guess the wax goes a long way to ensuring freshness, despite the less-perfect seal. Anyway, on with the show.

The beer pours plenty dark, with a nice caramel head. Since we were splitting a 12-oz. bottle, each got half a glass. On the nose, there was a ton of bourbon flavor, with vanilla and malty flavors, to go along with standard brewing malts. A very, very sweet and thick-smelling beer.

The taste… my mouth is watering just remembering what this tasted like. Tons of malt, excellent bourbon flavor. There was a surprising amount of chocolate flavor in there as well, but it was just a complement to the main malty and bourbony flavors, of course. When you’re drinking it, you can tell it’s a big beer, but there’s not enough alcohol in the flavor that you’d guess it’s a 12% beer.

Basically what I’m trying to say is I really liked it.

Rogue 21st Anniversary

Rogue Ales is celebrating their 21st anniversary this summer with the release of Rogue 21. The beer was available in a limited number of 750ml bottles and 21 kegs were released to 21 of Rogue’s oldest bar patrons. As it happens, Ashley’s is one of those lucky 21, and we took in this event back in the late days of summer. Without further ado, the beers:

Rogue 21st Anniversary Ale

Quite a sweet, malty flavor – It tastes like it’s a scotch or old ale. There’s a very low hop presence, and almost none at all in the aroma.

There’s alcohol taste on the tongue, but it’s not overwhelming. As sweet as the finished beer is, they certainly could have fermented it down a little more to remove sweetness and make it a little stronger.

The description says it’s brewed with molasses (which helps bring the scotch-ish flavor) and brewer’s licorice, though I don’t think there’s any anise flavor or aroma.

Rogue J.J. Hazelnut

The John John beers are aged in Whiskey barrels, and the Hazelnut is a brown ale brewed (of course) with hazelnut flavor.

There’s no strong aroma of anything before you sip. No real hops or sweetness on the nose. The flavor is overwhelmingly oak whiskey barrel-aged, to the point of covering up any other flavor. There’s a bit of dry acridity to it that you expect from a whiskey-aged beer.

My hypothesis is that this beer was aged too long, and took on too much flavor from the barrel, covering up the original flavors of the hazelnut brown. Practically the only flavors come from the barrel.

If you let the beer percolate in your mouth a bit prior to swallowing, there’s a bit of malty sweetness, though it’s impossible to determine the underlying flavors. If this beer was served at a bit warmer temperature, maybe these flavors would be more apparent.

Rogue J.J. Dead Guy

The Dead Guy Ale is one of Rogue’s flagship beers, and the John John version of it is, as you’d expect, a whiskey barrel-aged version of the classic maibock. This isn’t as over-aged as the hazelnut was, and the oak is an understated flavor. There’s a little “bite” from it at the beginning, but it wears off the more you drink (it’s up to the reader to decide if that’s due to temperature, drunkenness, or something else).

This beer is quite sweet both on the nose and in flavor. There’s a very subtle sour or fruity taste you’d associate with a Belgian – but it’s barely there. For a typically well-hopped style in Maibocks, there’s almost no hop presence.

Stone 14th Anniversary Ale

mmmmm... Ashley's

mmmmm... Ashley's

This was obviously the odd beer out, as the other offerings all came from Rogue, and this is a Stone brew. The boys in Escondido created an “Emperial IPA,” or a double imperial IPA to celebrate 14 years.

The aroma isn’t too hoppy, especially for what you’d expect out of the style, but what hops are discernible are of a sweeter variety.

In the flavor, however, it’s all hops (in multiple senses). The overwhelming taste is hop bitterness and flavor, though with a variety of hops, instead of the exclusively sweet ones that were in the aroma. The malt flavors are sweet, but also a bit spicy, leaving us to speculate there’s rye in the mash.