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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Scotch Ale – American: Oskar Blue’s Old Chub Nitro

Oskar Blues Old Chub

This Friday’s beer is from the excellent Oskar Blues in Colorado. It’s the Nitro version of their Old Chub Scotch ale. I opted for the Nitro version, as we haven’t had many Nitro beers on here. What is a Nitro beer you ask? It’s a beer that Nitrogen Gas has been used to Carbonate, instead of Carbon Dioxide.

Let’s start with Oskar Blues description of the beer:

OLD CHUB NITRO takes you deeper into the rich, malty flavors of the original brobdingnagian Scotch Ale, while the nitrogen widget liberates a cascading, uber-silky smooth oral experience only the CAN provides. This jaw-dropping Scottish strong ale (6.9% ABV) is brewed with bodacious amounts of malted barley and specialty grains, and a dash of beechwood-smoked malt. Old Chub Nitro features semi-sweet flavors of cocoa and coffee, and a wee-bit of smoke. A head-turning treat for malt heads and folks who think they don’t dig dark beer.

A bold description for this one! Oskar Blues solely brew their takeaway beers in Cans and are very strongly in favour them. With Cans coming back, it’s quite favourable right now and to be honest, I haven’t had a bad beer so their bold description usually lives up to it’s name. I like this description though, it’s descriptive and although it mentions some of the flavour I get the feeling that it’s just to wet your lips.

With a Scotch Ale (Or Wee-Heavy) the process used to brew the beer is a little different, let’s talk about that and then the recipe. 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, Special B, Peat Smoked Malt and Chocolate Malt. As for the Hops, as this isn’t a Hop-Forward beer Nugget is used.

When you pour this beer (I opted for the straight into the glass nitro pour) you get the cascading Nitro effect with a deep Tan/Brown Colour. Once the thick head rises up, it’s a dark Brown Beer with deep Ruby around the edges with a Tan coloured head. On the nose, lots of Caramel, some Woody tones and a little smoke. Great smelling for such a malt forward brew, you can really pick up on the caramalisation. When tasting this beer, there’s an initial wave of Caramel, followed by hard Toffee and Fudge. Wood and a light Smokiness carry through the Palate. On the finish there’s a little Tea aftertone, which is quite nice. As this beer is Nitro, it’s insanely smooth and almost coats your throat. Light carbonation and a Sweet finish. What a great beer to put your feet up next to the fire with after a long day at work!

You can buy Old Chub Nitro in the UK at:

The Brewdog Webstore

This is the only place I could find it at the moment, and it’s in stock! Contact me if you know anywhere else.

EST. CALORIES: 240   ABV: 8%