Bishops Barrel 21

Brewery: St Arnold Brewing Company
Style:  Specialty Wood Aged (33B) – Base Beer: Belgian Quad
Package: 12oz Bottle
Purchased: Unknown
Packaged Date: June 6, 2018
Consumed Date: May 28, 2019

Details from the Brewer

ABV: 12.5%
IBU: 30

Bishop’s Barrel No. 21 is a Belgian Quadrupel aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels for 15 months. The base beer is our Divine Reserve No. 13 recipe.

The beer pours a dark mahogany color with a tan head. Aroma bursts with baked cherries soaked in bourbon. Notes of honey, maple syrup, toffee, and graham cracker. The quad base can be found with notes of fig and dates, while the sweetness adds some body to provide a backbone to balance the high alcohol.


Aroma – 9/12

Deep chocolate and toffee notes hit the nose first at a medium high level.  This blends with medium bourbon vanilloids.  Moderate oak is present with a similar level alcohol.  Low levels of spicy phenols are present.  Slight tart note also detectible, maybe fruity.  Low level of paper character as it warms.

Appearance – 2/3

Pours a deep brown, mahogany liquid.  Although dark, clarity is great, with the exception of some sediment floaters.  Fine bubbles compose a short tan head during the pour.  It fades with low retention, quickly to a thin ring.

Flavor – 12/20

Grainy and toffee malt character at a medium high intensity.  This mixes with a sweet bourbon note at a medium level.  Towards the mid palate, low-medium spicy phenolics peak past the bourbon.  Medium sweetness with low bitterness.  Towards the finish some berry like fruit character peaks out.  The finish mostly leaves a low bourbon sweetness in the mouth.  As it warms, chocolate notes become more prominent.

Mouthfeel – 4/5

Thick and viscous with a good chewiness.  Short of liquid bread, this coats the mouth during the taste, but cleans up towards the end of the taste.  Becomes thinner on the finish.  A moderate high carbonation hits across the tongue.  A good amount of alcoholic heat lingers on the throat and cheeks on the finish.

Overall Impression – 7/10

This is a decent take at a barrel aged quad.  The Woodford barrels take the drivers seat here, and present a wonderful character throughout the beer.    Age seems to have knocked any quad character into the background, making this almost a barley wine.   The cherry character, while faded, is very mellow, making me wonder how prominent it was when fresh.

Rating – 34/50

This is my first time reviewing a vintage beer.  At just around a year old, I honestly thought this would have held up a little better (having been stored refrigerated).  Quads usually age fantastically, and hold on to their character for quite some time.  That said, I usually find bourbon barrel aged quads to be pretty messy with their flavors often clashing.  That wasn’t the case here, as the beer’s flavors melded nicely.  They just weren’t quite as advertised.