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Judge's Review: 90 Rating - Bourbon Cru by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

May, 2021
Judges Rating: 
21 / 24
6 / 6
36 / 40
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
18 / 20

Bourbon Cru by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery is a Belgian-style Quad aged in bourbon barrels and is being evaluated as a Specialty Wood-Aged Beer (category 33B from the 2015 BJCP Beer Style Guidelines). Specialty Wood-Aged Beers are aged in spirit barrels and should have a harmonious blend between the barrel characters (typically vanilla and toasted oak) and the barrel spirits. Quadrupels (also known as Belgian Dark Strong Ales, category 26D) are deceptively strong dark beers that have a harmony of rich malt, fruity esters, and peppery phenolics. Bourbon Barrel Cru was aged in bourbon barrels and measures in at 12% ABV.

Bourbon Cru pours dark amber in color, almost light brown, with good clarity and a small tan head. The aroma is a moderate mélange of dark fruits of cherries and plums, caramel and bready malts, and bourbon and toasted oak while a light peppery phenolic provides contrast. The flavor is moderate bready and caramel malt that is well balanced with bourbon and toasted oak; the moderate dark cherry esters balance the malt and spirits well while a light sourness adds contrast. The finish is lightly bitter with moderate bready malt, moderate cherry esters, toasted oak and bourbon contrasted by a light sourness late into the finish.

Bourbon Cru is a solid Belgian Quad aged in bourbon barrels. There are a lot of complex flavors from the malts, esters, barrel and spirit. The light sourness technically would be considered a flaw, but it provides a good contrast to the darker flavors. If you are looking for a ton of wood and spirit pass on this beer, but if you like a solid Belgian-style ale with a light sourness then you will really enjoy this. Proost!