Beer Review: Guinness Stout Aged in Bulleit Bourbon Barrels - The Whiskey Wash

Beer Review: Guinness Stout Aged in Bulleit Bourbon Barrels

Editor’s Note: This beer was provided to us as a review sample by Guinness (the whiskey we supplied). This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.

Well known Irish beer label Guinness last year partnered with fellow Diageo owned whiskey brand Bulleit Bourbon for a limited release variant of the Antwerpen Stout that is available only in the US. Named Guinness Stout Aged in Bulleit Bourbon Barrels, the opening this past August of the Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House in Baltimore, Maryland made it possible to create this limited edition beer. At the time it was released it was set to be on tap there and also available to purchase for a limited time in limited markets. Diageo, in releasing this, looks to both be seeking a larger American Guinness presence and also looking for a way to dive into the domestic craft beer world.

The spirits giant brings access through its big portfolio the ability of sharing expertise and partnerships across a variety of its brands and beyond. Looking at a brief history of the Stout in this beer mash up for a moment and the role of such partnerships in it, one John Martin originally created the Antwerpen Stout with Guinness for Belgium beer drinkers to help recover the beer industry that suffered immensely after World War II. His company, John Martin S.A, in 1924 became the oldest distributor for Guinness and has a strong Diageo partnership that is still alive and well today.

Antwerpen Stout is still a specialty beer produced in Dublin, Ireland at St. James Gate (the original Guinness brewery). It is a stout of 100% malted barley that has an ABV of 8%. It has less hops to bring down the bitterness factor that Belgium drinkers prefer and has been distributed to those same drinkers for over 60 years.

Guinness’ partner in crime with this release, as previously mentioned, is Bulleit Bourbon.  Its flagship bourbon is noted for being a straight Kentucky bourbon that’s based upon a traditional family recipe from the founder’s great-great grandfather, Augustus Bulleit. It is a high rye style bourbon with a mash bill of 68% corn, 28% rye, 4% malted barley that’s been aged in new American oak barrels.

How the Guinness Stout Aged in Bulleit Bourbon Barrels all comes together is that the Antwerpen Stout is first brewed at St. James Gate. It is then shipped to Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House, where it is aged in the ex-Bulleit bourbon barrels for eight months before being bottled at a hearty 10% ABV. It has a suggested retail price of around $20 for a four-pack of 11.2-ounce bottles, and it is said to be the first in a series of planned barrel aged beers from the Baltimore facility.

Guinness Stout Aged in Bulleit Bourbon Barrels

Guinness Stout Aged in Bulleit Bourbon Barrels (image via Melissa Kilgore-Marchetti/The Whiskey Wash)

Beer Tasting Notes: Guinness Stout Aged in Bulleit Bourbon Barrels

Vital Stats: Brewed by Guinness at St. James Gate, Dublin Ireland and aged in ex-Bulleit bourbon barrels at Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House, Baltimore Maryland; 10% ABV, 52 IBUs, 11.2 fluid ounce bottles (350ml). Comes in a four pack at suggested retail of around $20.

Appearance: Dark, nearly black with no light passing through the glass.

Nose: Fresh rustic bread upon first opening and shifts to vanilla and caramel with hints of orange citrus and dark fruits.

Palate: Great mouth feel, full like most stouts but light on the finish. It does not linger on the back of the palate with the hop bitters, but dissipates to a delightful mellowness with hints of baking spices, plums, black cherries and coffee.

The Takeaway

Summary

This is a great beer for having with a wee dram or nibbles. The smooth creamy and full taste doesn’t dwindle as the beer sits and it is best served cold, but if you are a die-hard room temperature stout drinker, this one will do well too. Carbonation is just right to give it a bit of a head when it is poured and doesn’t fizzle out as the beer sits.

I recommend a bit of Bulleit Bourbon to pair with this beer, but only if you have nowhere to go for a while.

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