Anderson Valley

Beer Review – Anderson Valley Bourbon Barrel Stout

Anderson Valley Bourbon Valley Stout

Here is what Limpd had to say when I told him that we received a bottle of Anderson Valley beer in the mail:

Hang on. Did you say Anderson Valley? You’d think that they would avoid us like the plague after all of our not so complimentary reviews of their beers. They’re either gluttons for punishment, or this beer might actually be something special. Since I always enjoy a well crafted stout, let’s hope it’s the latter! 

For those of you that are not regular readers of this blog, we haven’t been very enthusiastic about most of the Anderson Valley beers that we’ve sampled, so let’s just say that we were quite intrigued when we found out that they were sending us a bottle of their Bourbon Barrel Stout. Stout aged in ex-Wild Turkey barrels? Sign us up!

About a week and a half ago, Limpd texted the usual suspects (The ROK, The Wookie, Honorary Booze Dancer Mike, and me) to see if we would be available for a few late night libations. Since my Mamma and Papa raised me right, i.e. I never show up empty handed, I brought this bottle to Limpd’s house (I also brought some Balcones True Blue and Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon) so that we can get several different opinions about this beer (never let it be said that the “It’s just the booze dancing…” crew isn’t fair!).

Before we get to my review, here is what Anderson Valley Brewing Company has to say about their Bourbon Barrel Stout:

Complexity. Aged for three months in Wild Turkey Bourbon barrels, this luxurious stout has a deep ebony hue and a beautiful mahogany head. The woody, vanilla-like notes imparted by the barrels mingle with aromas of fresh baked bread, toffee, and espresso and envelop the rich chocolate and roasted barley flavors with a fine bourbon character. Our exclusive partnership with Wild Turkey gives Anderson Valley a world class, consistent source of barrelage, allowing our brewers to explore new frontiers in barrel-aged craft beer.

Since its introduction, Wild Turkey has maintained a distinctive distillation and ageing process that gives it a smooth taste and a lingering flavor. Wild Turkey uses a differentiated process whereby the bourbon is distilled at a low proof to seal in its flavors. Very little water is added to Wild Turkey, resulting in a full-flavored authentic bourbon taste similar to what one would get straight out of the barrel. Wild Turkey is a genuine drink with a sought after “burn” that comes from its high proof, an attribute fundamental to the brand and critical in maintaining its authentic bourbon characteristics.

And here are my impressions of this beer…

  • Appearance: Deep dark mahogany color, with little to no foam, and zero lacing.
  • Aroma: Not a lot of aroma coming off this one. A hint of dark chocolate with maybe a touch of coffee. Overall, a very subdued nose, even when I let it warm up a bit.
  • Taste: Very lightly carbonated with a thin and watery mouthfeel. Very consistent from start to finish with a bit of a Maxwell House coffee flavor coming through. Not particularly bitter. There’s a good bit of licorice coming through in the aftertaste.
  • ABV: 6.9%

I was pretty excited to try the Anderson Valley Bourbon Barrel Stout, but unfortunately, it was just ok. While there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with it, I can’t help but think that there was something missing. It just wasn’t big or bold enough, i.e. it lacked the depth and complexity that I have come to expect from a barrel aged stout. Since the licorice coming through in the aftertaste reminded me of the Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, I’m going to call this one Eddy Fitz Ultra Light.

Hang on! We’re not done with this beer yet…

As I said at the beginning of this review, five of us sampled this beer and we all had a similar opinion, i.e. this beer was “fair to middling” at best. Limpd handed me his tasting notes, but they weren’t very detailed, which is never a good sign. Here they are:

  • Color: Black and ruby tinged.
  • Aroma: Iron water and not much else.
  • Taste: Thin, flat, and a little bitter. Meh.
  • Conclusion: Expected thick and creamy. Didn’t get it.

In all fairness to Anderson Valley Brewing, since this sample came to us through the mail, we suspect that our bottle may have lost something in transit due to less than optimal shipping conditions. That being said, I would definitely give this beer a second chance since several of the reviews that I’ve read have been quite positive.


Many thanks to Estela Weinmann of Catalyst Public Relations for sending us this generous sample!

8 replies »

  1. And with that you’ve pretty much ensured that you’re all wanted men up in Boonville. I hear tell that they’ve got one of their own Treadstone Project clone operation going on up there so if you happen to see Matt Damon or Jeremy Renner doing light yard work on your block you might want to think about sneaking away very, very quietly.

    I can’t say I’m surprised at your impressions of the beer though I’ve never tried it – I’m not exactly on their radar and, anyway, I haven’t written unflattering reviews of their beers. I will say that aside from their Farmhouse (which I was only able to find on tap) there isn’t anything in their lineup that I’d seek out for a second session. They get props for being among the early adopters of canning their craft beers. I only wish the stuff inside was a bit more worthy of the protection.



    • I’m not too worried about Matt Damon (have you seen that Liberace flick?), but that Jeremy Renner guy, now he scares the Bejaysus outta me! I’ll keep an extra close eye on our lawn service guys from here on out.

      Of all the Anderson Valley beers that we’ve sampled so far, the Barney Flats was the best of the bunch. It was much better than this one. I’m going to blame the USPS for our problems with this one. It’s a long long way from Boonville to South Jersey after all.


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