Tuesday, February 17, 2015

2014 Bourbon Barrel Temptress is true to its name

Image credit: Lakewood Brewing Company

If you live in North Texas, you know there are few locally-made beers that cause as much of a frenzy as The Temptress from the Lakewood Brewing Company. A versatile Imperial milk stout, it has been the subject of numerous adjunct treatments over time, even going on to inspire a line of specialty beers known as the Seduction Series. That bawdy band of brews includes the likes of Raspberry, Mole, French Quarter and Sin Mint Temptress.

However, no version of Lakewood's siren that "pairs well with sin" sparks a fervor like Bourbon Barrel Temptress (BBT). First made available in wide release on draft in December 2012, BBT didn't debut in bottles until a year later. Fast forward to the present, and its one of those beers you've got to get while the gettin' is good, because packaged product generally sells out in a matter of hours.

As for the 2014 vintage of BBT, the product has undergone what some might call a significant change. No longer aged in spent casks from Bulleit Bourbon, as it has been since 2012, this year's edition spent nearly six months in barrels from Woodford Reserve. According to the brewery it was simply a matter of availability, as stock from Bulleit was not as easy to obtain.

Making the move doesn't seem to have affected online ratings or the public's general overall thirst for BBT compared to prior years, but if you ask me the beer does present itself a little differently than it has in the past. At least to my taste, it seems there's a bit more barrel going on in this particular beer.

Interestingly, elements in the aroma come across as being much more subtle, with bourbon and light wood tones overlaying hints of roast, caramel and dark chocolate. It's in the taste, though, that the barrel influence really shows itself, with additional oak and a stronger shot of boozy bourbon. The beer isn't hot, but it's definitely warm, as the flavor foundation mixes with a rush of vanilla and drying tannins to round out the finish.

Now, to be clear, there are no complaints buried in the bottom of all this barrel talk. Straight up, I drank this bourbon like there was no tomorrow. Soft carbonation and a lighter-than-expected body make BBT a remarkably easy drinker. Wait, did I say bourbon? Obviously, I meant beer, but therein lies the point. When it comes to bourbon barrel beers, it's ultimately a question of what you want out of such a thing. For me, I'd like a little more beer - and maybe some more body in this case - to balance out all the rest. At the same time, I know plenty who sing an entirely different tune - anyone up for a chorus of "Roll out the Barrel?" To each his own, of course, and perhaps after a few months in the cellar things will come together and make BBT even better for everyone. All I know is, barrel-forward or not this is a brew that didn't spend a lot of time lingering in my glass, and I imagine that's what ultimately matters most.

*Originally published on Tenemu.com.

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