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Judge's Review: 84 Rating - Bourbon Barrel Aged Laika by Straight to Ale Brewery

November, 2019
Judges Rating: 
20 / 24
5 / 6
35 / 40
10 / 10
Overall Impression: 
14 / 20

Bourbon Barrel Aged Laika by Straight to Ale Brewery is being judged as a Wood Aged Beer (Category 33A) with an Imperial Stout (Category 20C) base according to the 2015 BJCP Guidelines.  

This beer pours a very dark brown with hazy clarity when a light is held to it.  A creamy, mocha colored head of tiny bubbles is sustained with moderate retention and leaving a lovely lacing on the glass as the beer is consumed and the beer sticks to the side of the glass when tilted hinting to a higher ABV.  The initial aroma is a wave of medium-high plum and prune fruit coupled with well-tempered, but noticeable alcohol.  There are slight hints of wood and vanilla lactones and Bourbon from the barrel use.  A low roast and chocolate flavor provide a base for a medium-low neutral malt sweetness.  No hops are detectable behind the intensity of the esters.  On the sip, medium (bordering medium-high) malt sweetness is quickly canceled out by a medium-high ethyl alcohol.  This quickly transitions to a medium bitterness accentuated by medium-low dark roast with low bitter chocolate flavor.  Mid-palate there is a slight meaty note in the flavor.  The medium plum and prune esters linger into the aftertaste along with sweetness from the malt.  This beer finishes medium sweet.  This beer has a full body with a lovely creamy and smooth aspect.  The carbonation is perceived as medium, though prickly, and probably a higher volume than perceived due to the viscosity of the body.  A pleasant medium intensity alcohol warmth is noted in the beer.  Overall, I found this particular sample to be too ester forward and slightly muted, lacking the rich, deep, complex malt character of world-class examples of the style.