I’m not one of the cool kids. I typically can’t handle bourbon-barrel aged brews. Too much like actual liquor; if I wanted a shot of booze, I’d grab tequila or vodka. When I want a beer, I want a beer, dammit. At least that’s what I tell myself, every time I take a sip of a beautifully aged (but too boozy for me) barrel aged beauty too wild for me to handle. Well, I can add one more to the very short list of barrel age-ers that I will definitely seek out. Salted Caramel (let’s just call it BBSC) is a delightful, complex and decidedly friendly porter that will please the palate of any dark beer lover.
The pour is smooth, with a scant khaki colored head that dissipates quickly, leaving a slight fairy-ring of foam. Even this soon vanishes after the first few sips. And wow, those sips. Slides right off the tongue with a woody, bourbon kiss. First real flavor hit? Coffee. That Sumatra is loud and proud, no surprise for a porter brewed with Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company’s Dark Sumatra roast. (By the way, I was at the release of this limited edition brew, and was able to sample the roast used in this porter. And damn if it’s this coffee isn’t exactly the flavor I noted in the brew!)
First sniff’ll get you a bourbon and coffee nose, with brown sugar. Second sniff in the ol’ tulip glass? Caramel and clean. And is that a light touch of amaretto? It is! Beware though – this brew’ll hit ya. The warning salvo? Very little carbonation, basically an aftertaste of tingle. This one’s smoooooth. Yeah, those higher ABV drafts look all calm and collected, but there’s a whole lot of punch to ‘em. BBSC is no different.
So what’s up with this particular limited edition of Heavy Seas’Blackbeard’s Breakfast? Caramel. Lovely lovely caramel. It’s so rich and creamy I wanted to chew it, but then I remembered I was drinking, not eating. The brewery crafted its own caramel, and man I hope they make them as a side hustle.
Where’s the salt tho’? There’s a whiff of it after all’s said and sipped. The party focuses on coffee, chocolate and caramel, with cream and wood arriving fashionably late. Salt brings up the rear, but that’s as it should be. While I like the ocean, I don’t want to drink a beer where the up-front flavor profile is salt. Nope. But BBSC’s salt is almost a tease, and that’s a-okay with me.
Pairing? Well, I drank mine straight up, figuring that like a lot of candy-esque beers it’d be too much to handle with anything else. However, BBSC has a deeper, richer profile that plays well with others. I’d have this with something nicely spiced, to bring out the caramel and amaretto notes. Or perhaps with dessert, so the smokey, woodsy bourbon could come out to play. Or, since it’s literally a breakfast brew, perhaps with a Full English? Either way, it’s a winner.