Barrel Aged Scotch Ale – Scottish: Brewdog Bourbon Baby

This week’s beer is a Barrel Aged beer that you could actually determine as a Session Beer. Bourbon Baby, by Brewdog. The beer starts life as a Scotch Ale, and is then Barrel Aged. Quite an interesting concept, and definitely one I wanted to write about.

Let’s start with Brewdog‘s description of the beer:

Bourbon Baby is a baby Scotch ale which we’ve gone on to age in bourbon barrels.

The Scotch ale base is light bodied and low ABV, and brings toasted shortcake and blossom honey flavours; the barrel ageing adds a demonic, dark vanilla twist. Rich brown sugar, hints of smoke, spiced fruit, chocolate and raisins are just some of the multitude of flavours that have developed.

Our aim was to showcase barrel ageing in a lower ABV beer and we felt the malty scotch ale base was the perfect way to do this. The body remains light, yet there is a complexity quite unlike anything you would normally expect in a Scotch ale.

Bourbon Baby is a small batch beer and is available in limited quantities in bottle and draft, and will cope with further ageing in the bottle but is best suited to drinking fresh. 

Not the usual Gusto-Fueled description we’ve come to expect from Brewdog, but I find that quite refreshing. They also don’t claim that they’re the first ones to create a beer like this. There’s a lot of hints about the flavour, but that’s to be expected of them.

Now for the recipe, and as I’ve said before the key to a Scotch Ale is the boil, it’s is a lot longer than a normal beer leading to caramelisation of the malt. The malts in this beer are 2-Row Pale, Caramel Malt, Munich Malt, Peat Smoked Malt and Chocolate Malt. There’s less 2-Row compared to usual to make sure the flavours from the specialty Malts are prominent without the ABV being boosted. Also, Wheat is added for good head retention. The hops used in this brew are First Gold, Willamette and Mt Hood. After this it’s aged in Bourbon Barrels during secondary fermentation.

The beer pours a nice Dark Ruby colour with a Tan head that has great retention. It stuck with the beer for the entire time I was drinking it, which is quite a feat for a Barrel Aged beer! On the nose there’s fantastic Caramel, Brown Sugar, Coffee and Bourbon notes. When tasting this beer, initially there’s a wave of Coffee and Caramel which carries through the beer. Hints of Vanilla and a big Bourbon flavour ending with a nice Chocolate crescendo. The beer is as crisp as a lager, with medium carbonation. It finishes Medium Dry. This beer really is great, wether you’re enjoying a bottle of it or want something a bit different to session. I’d say it’s another great Spring beer, given how crisp and clean it is.

You can buy Bourbon Baby at Brewdog’s store.

EST. CALORIES: 174   ABV: 5.8%

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