Greetings to all you beer lovers. Today I bring reviews of two beers that were released in 2016, Ashcroft (Black Market Brewing), and Black Butte XXVII (Deschutes Brewing). I drank and reviewed these beers several months ago, but just recently found my notes. I should have posted these reviews when I sampled them last summer. Sorry for the delay – I offer no excuses. Both of these beers may no longer be available.
Ashcroft: Black Market Brewing Co., Temecula, CA. 9.8% ABV
Ashcroft is a bourbon barrel aged Imperial Brown Ale. It’s dark hazy brown with a 1/2″ beige head that fades after about two minutes, leaving a thick ring and a very slight surface layer. The aroma is sweet, chocolaty, with a little coffee and vanilla.
The flavor is dark fruit, sweet chocolate, and caramel, with just a hint of acidic tartness. Then the bourbon kicks in with notes of vanilla and coconut. There is a nice lingering bitterness in the finish and the aftertaste. Ashcroft has a medium body and mouthfeel with a nice carbonation level that keeps it from tasting too heavy. Then alcohol level is high, but is not noted in the flavor (you will, however, notice it’s effects!). As it warms, the alcohol becomes a little noticeable in the aroma and flavor.
Brown Ales can easily be too sweet or too thin, but this one is well balanced. The bourbon barrel really adds a lot to it. “Brown Recluse” from Phantom Ales in Anaheim has been my favorite and “Go To” brown ale, but I think I like Ashcroft a little better, just because of the barrel aging, which adds another level of complexity. This beer is a real treat.
Black Butte XXVII (2015): Deschutes Brewing Co., Bend, OR. 11.6% ABV.
Each year Deschutes releases a special version of their flagship porter, Black Butte. They add special ingredients and then age part of the batch in whiskey barrels. This anniversary ale is different each year. so once it’s gone, there’s no getting it again. The 2015 version was blended with apricot puree, cacao nibs and pomegranate molasses. I purchased this bottle in early 2016 and aged it for several months in my refrigerator.
Black Butte XXVII pours black with a 1/2″ light cocoa colored head that lasts for a couple of minutes before fading to a substantial ring around the perimeter of a tulip glass. The aroma is sweet, bourbon, oak, tart and apricot.
The flavor is sweet chocolate, a little tartness, vanilla, oak, dark fruit (plum), coffee (very slight) and molasses. The overall impression is sweet, but that fades to a slight bitterness, which in turn dissolves into a semi-sweet chocolate flavor. The apricot and pomegranate is subdued, but is noticeable in the tartness. As it warms, the aroma and flavor becomes sweeter, with hints of caramel and nuts/nougat, like a Snickers Bar. The alcohol flavor also becomes a little more pronounced as it warms, but never becomes prevalent or boozy. The body is medium to full – well developed for a porter.
My perception of this beer is chocolate above all else. Bourbon is not detectable in the flavor, but is slightly noticeable in the aroma. That’s a little disappointing, but I would still say this is an EXCELLENT beer. The notice on the bottle read, “Best After 7-20-16”. I drank this beer on 08-06-2016.
I recently sampled/drank Black Butte XXVIII, and wanted to include the review here. Unfortunately I lost my notes. If I ever find them, I’ll post the review. Until then, all I can say is that it is very good, but was different than XXVII. Sorry for this teaser, but I guess you’ll just have to go get some for yourself (it should still be available) and enjoy the experience.
Black Butte XXVII is no longer available, although one might be able to find it somewhere. I believe Ashcroft is a special/rotating release, and may be available again (not sure about future availability – that’s a little ambiguous).
Well, that’s it for now beer lovers. I will be posting a new Vendome Beer Panel review at the end of the week, so check back around March 11, 2017 for additional tips and discount opportunities.