Sean Coughlin's picture

81 Rating: 500 Quadrupel Ale (Barrel-aged) by Reformation Brewery

December, 2017
Judges Rating: 
20 / 24
4 / 6
33 / 40
8 / 10
Overall Impression: 
16 / 20

500 is a Belgian-style Quadruple aged in wood (2015 BJCP Guidelines 33A) with the base beer being evaluated using the 2017 Brewer’s Association Guidelines for Belgian-style Quadruple. 

The aroma is barrel forward with vanilla and lightly toasted oak.  Overall, the aroma seems a bit one-dimensional with the barrel dominating and a lack of yeast derived aromatics.  There is a pleasant caramel malt profile buried underneath that emerges once the beer approaches room temperature.  The beer is a light brown with copper undertones and is a bit murky.  The head is tan, thin, compact, and disperses quickly.   

The flavor follows the aroma with dominant oak.  There is minimal hop bitterness and no hop flavor allowing for ample expression of bread crust followed by dark caramel malt that lingers in the slightly sweet finish.  There is significant alcohol warmth that hurts the overall drinkability of the beer, even though this is a high alcohol style and some warmth is to be expected.  The body is full and helps support the weight of the barrel in the balance.  Unfortunately, the oak character dominates the profile of this beer to the point of diminishing all the complexities that make the base style so enjoyable.  This is a good beer that could have been great with greater balance in mind when blending barrels.