Beers that got us through the winter: Bull & Barrel Old Bourbon Oak Imperial Old Ale, Brewster, New York
Date: April 29 ,2019
The Story— If you find yourself driving west on I 84 from Connecticut to New York you’ll pass by Brewster just after you cross the state line on your way to Newburgh. It’s spitting distance from the interstate, but you’ll need a GPS to guide you through the interchanges. We haven’t been there, but are eager to go. We’ve run into several of their beers that have ranged in quality, but we’ve always thought that some of the flaws we’ve found were due far more to distance and packaging than to any trouble in the brewhouse. This Imperial Old Ale– more impervious to post fermenting issues– further confirmed our opinion.
Bull and Barrel is primarily a brewpub that sells beer to go — and some of that winds up in distribution in the biggest beer stores. The menu is adventurous and they smoke their own meats.
Brewers take a great deal of liberty with the Old Ale style. Originally it referred to a stronger than average beer that was partially soured for extra flavor. Today it’s pretty much what the brewer says it is. We think this one is pretty legit.
The Beer— Rich deep caramel with plenty of wood. Toasted caramel. Some hops sneak through and add depth. Some fruit as it drinks. Big rich creamy but clean woody flavors.
Value — Good. Available in 12 ounce cans.
About these posts: We taste and evaluate over a thousand beers every year. The beers posted here rank in the top quarter of those tastings. Values: “fair” is a good beer at an above market price, “good” is worth the money, “very good” is a bargain, and “excellent” is a steal.Next week we’ll return to visiting fun places to explore beer — and much more–a different destination each week. Our beers of the day will feature beers from this wonderfully wet destinations. For this week, though, we’ll take a quality break and give a shout out to brewers from all over that made the winter a bit warmer. The upside is that some of these beers may be available in a good beer store near you.
A caveat as always: the vast majorities of craft breweries may have a few beers that are usually available, but their most interesting beers are usual season or one-off brews that we may rave about, but you can’t find. Our specific beer descriptions, can tell you what sorts of beers the brewery does well; if you don’t find the exact beer on tap, you’ll probably find something similar.