Reviewing the Barrel Aged Murderous from Pipeworks Brewing Company out of Chicago, Illinois. This beer is an English style barleywine (Murderous) aged for 8 months in 12 year old Elijah Craig 12 bourbon barrels.
December 2013 release. Served in a Hopslam snifter and enjoyed on 01/22/13.
Appearance: Brown in color, murky in appearance. Pours a wisp of tan head that quickly settles to a ring around the glass. Not much lacing, but nice oily legs. Just about what you’d expect from a barrel aged barleywine. 4/5
Smell: Bourbon-forward nose, big malt character. Oak, toffee, vanilla and dates. Touch of booze too, but nothing beyond what you’d expect from a fresh barrel aged beer that is 11% ABV. The aromatics are well integrated. 4.25/5
Taste: Oak, toffee, and brown sugar-forward bourbon flavor dominate on the palate. Caramel malt backbone. Some leather-like flavor towards the finish. I would never profess to be able to pick out a barrel blind, but the taste, substantially more so than the nose, has that same distinct brown sugar and caramel forward bourbon flavor that Elijah Craig aged beers just seem to have. Finishes just like taking a shot of Elijah Craig without the booze burn — a mix of brown sugar, sweet dark fruit, toffee, oaky vanilla, a hint of burnt sugar and a little spice linger nicely, fading mostly to residual malt and caramel flavor. Really smooth, and no real booziness here. While this one certainly smelled like an 11% ABV beer, it does not taste like one. The flavors really coat the whole palate on this brew, and linger well. As the beer warms, more vanilla comes through — particularly towards the finish. 4.25/5
Mouthfeel: Not quite full bodied, very low carbonation. Honestly, I think this brew is a bit undercarbonated, but the style does not demand much carbonation and this one was certainly not flat. Oily mouthfeel with a nice maltiness to it. 4/5
Overall: A really excellent early barrel project from Pipeworks. This is a tasty, well integrated barrel aged barleywine, albeit one that is very bourbon barrel character heavy. Pipeworks keeps on making new beers at a ridiculous rate, experimenting with different recipes and styles rather than focusing on brewing the same, bankable beers years round. I look forward to seeing how that attitude and approach to brewing will translate into their barrel program. Fans of Central Waters’ Bourbon Barrel Barleywine should seek this one out!
Cost: $10 for a 12 oz bottle.