Tonight I opened a bottle that I’ve been sitting on for at least two years. It’s a scotch ale from Berkshire Brewing that was aged in Woodford Reserve barrels, brewed to commemorate the life of Greg Noonan.
Berkshire Brewing Company Gude Greg’s Wee Heavy Private Reserve
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5
I received this bottle as a gift from Dave from the Great Lost Bear back when it was released. I probably should have opened this beer before now, but oh well. Better late than never.
It has been cellared since I took ownership and I’ve poured into a pint glass.
The beer has a dark ruby color with lots of clinging carbonation. Holding the beer up to the light reveals its perfect clarity, but in a low light setting, it’s hard to see through it. There is a decent amount of grey foam on top that settles down to a skim. No lacing on this glass, despite me giving it a hot water rinse and dry before pouring. Swirling leaves patchy foam.
Big bourbon aromas emanate form this beer. I could smell them as soon as I popped the cap. The aroma took me by surprise; after two years, I would think the aroma would have mellowed. I can smell, peat, toasted oak, smoke, and warming alcohol. Malty sweetness is very subtle. In a blind smell test, I think I would mistake this for a glass of straight whiskey. The aroma seems appropriate for a fresh bourbon barrel-aged beer, so I’ve docked half a point for the lack of mellowing.
Where the nose may be a bit overpowering, the flavor profile is really well done. There is plenty of bourbon flavor, but not so much that you would mistake this as anything but a barrel-aged beer. It begins with a nice sweetness—velvety toffee and cherry flavors. Crystal sugars mix in before the bourbon makes itself known. It has mellow alcohol, smokey peat, and oak. These bourbon flavors linger on after swallowing. I was afraid this beer would still be quite hot, but it has mellowed into an interesting, balanced ale. The cherry flavor did catch me off guard. It may have a slight tartness, but I don’t think this beer is showing signs of infection.
The beer is a bit stickier than I would have liked to have felt. A noticeable coat remains on my lips and throughout my mouth. The coat holds onto the sweet flavors; very little of the bourbon remains. The alcohol does provide some warmth as I swallow.
This is good wee heavy that is tending towards great, but misses the mark slightly. Maybe it would have been better if I had opened the bottle sooner, but I’ll never know. I will enjoy what I have left to drink though. If you get a chance to try some (and you’re a fan of the style), I’d got for it, but I wouldn’t go as far as trading rare beers known to cellar better than this one.