Wine Barrel Aged Dark Skies

Brewery: Vista Brewing
Style:   specialty Wood-Aged Beer  (33B)
Package: 500ml Bottle
Purchased: Vista Brewing, June, 2019
Packaged Date:  N/A
Consumed Date: September 1, 2019

Details From the Brewer

ABV: 4.9%


Aroma – 8/12

Biscuit and fresh bread crust smell from the malts jumps out first at a moderate level.  A lighter cocoa and coffee note fills as well.  There’s a faint note that hints at strawberry as well.  No alcohol heat or fermentation character.  As it warms, a low earthy and woody note comes through.

Appearance – 3/3

Jet black liquid.  Shining a light through it, the clarity is actually great regardless of the dark color.  Small beige bubbles form a 2cm head.  It lasts with average retention, eventually fading to just a ring.

Flavor – 16/20

Malt flavors are the first thing noticed; A moderate-high graininess and graham cracker/biscuit flavor.  Lesser notes of coffee and slight roast join in with this.  Bitterness is moderately high.  A floral hop character comes out in the midtaste with a bit or cracker as well.  The berry notes from the aroma are also present, which seem to be tied to the wine.  Towards the finish, earthiness and a slight oak flavor come out.  These flavors seems to linger longer as the malt fades away.

Mouthfeel – 4.5/5

A moderate-high carbonation hits the edges of the tongue.    Medium-full bodied with a slight creamy character, which thins out towards the finish.  Some wood-based astringency is present on the finish.

Overall Impression – 8/10

This is one of the most drinkable wine barrel aged beers I’ve had.  The malt profile of the schwartzbier base really shines though.  While some notes of the wine barrel are present, it’s character is a bit masked by the base beer.  Increasing the barrel a bit more, would help it be more in balance with the base beer.

Rating – 39.5/50

Vista Brewing hit the ground running on their barrel program.  While they’ve done a lot of saison and plambic so far, it’s cool to see them branching out with other styles.  The standard version of Dark Skies is fantastic, and was one of my favorite beers from visiting their taproom.  While I’m not sure if the barrel improve on the otherwise great beer, it is more complex.  For the $8 this cost, it’s definitely worth grabbing to try.