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The Beer Circle » Barrel Aged, Beer, Bordeaux, Imperial Stout, Nørrebro Bryghus, Reviews » Nørrebro Bryghus Seven Bordeaux Barrel

Nørrebro Bryghus Seven Bordeaux Barrel

Have you ever wondered what it’d be like for a group of superstars to come together and collaborate to put out a release? In the music scene, this is called a supergroup, popularized by the bands Cream, Temple of the Dog, The Dead Weather, and Chickenfoot. But in 2008, seven Danish breweries put their heads together and combined their own individual recipes to create a massive imperial stout. After brewing, Seven Bordeaux Barrel was put in wine barrels for seven months to mature before release.

Involved in this process were names instantly recognizable today. At the time, Shaun Hill – now of Hill Farmstead fame – was head brewmaster at Nørrebro Bryghus. Also included were Peter Sonne (Olfabrikken), Rune Lindgreen (Bryggeriet Djævlebryg), Mikkel (Mikkeller), Mike Murphy (Gourmet), Jacob Storm (Amager Bryghus) and Christian Skovdal Andersen (Ølfabrikken / Beer Here).

How will the recipes mesh with each other? Will the distinctive characteristics of each brewery come through or will it take on a completely different profile?


Nørrebro Bryghus Seven Bordeaux Barrel
Even before peering into the midnight abyss that this beer ultimately turned out to be, I knew it was going to be thick as the cap dripped several syrupy, goopy strands of beer as I popped it off. As I poured, it slowly glugged out; not so much beer but maybe a few decade old motor oil. As the one steady stream slipped out, a smaller, thicker, inconsistent line flowed out beneath it. It was actually pretty neat to see. I saw that it wasn't getting much head, so I tried to hard-pour whatever was left, but even after that, it still only managed about a finger's worth of dark tan, mocha-colored head. It had pretty good retention given the high alcohol, and as it bubbled away, it left little, foamy islands in its wake. There is a little lacing, but nothing extraordinary. As could be guessed by the pour, this beer is absolutely pitch black. The contrast between where the light bends around the glass and where this beer begins is striking and intimidating. This thing is like a black hole.
Initial aromas are extremely tannic and vinous; I can easily notice the grapes, wine, and alcohol here. Perhaps some darker fruits like plums? Behind this wine-spiced bouquet the stout portion of this beer is sweet and malty. There's lots of dark, bitter chocolate and molasses and even beyond all these smells it's possible to notice some hops and heat. As the beer warms, the oak and vanilla contributed from the barrel really shines. I can only imagine what each brewery contributed to this blend and the complexity is readily apparent in the outcome.
My initial thoughts on the first taste are simply that this beer comes together much smoother in the taste than in the nose. The predominant sensation here is that the roasted malts are strong and noticeable throughout the entire sip. Additionally, the grapes, vinous characteristics, and oak blend together to ease, but not eliminate, the malts. About midway through, the vanilla really kicks in and mixes with the dark chocolate to nudge the beer into a sweeter realm that could earn this beer a rightful spot for dessert. However, the beer finishes strong with a nice hop appearance and a bitter combination from the chocolate, Bordeaux barrel, and the alcohol. Like in the nose, the flavor mellows a bit as it warms to help round it all out.
Mouthfeel is, as expected, very thick and syrupy. However, it doesn't coat the mouth as much as I thought it would. Perhaps taking a cue from the wine so that it's more dry? Carbonation is higher than I expected, which really helps to add a bit more character. The finish is long, but the bitterness does linger a bit.
Drinkability is absurdly high for a barrel aged stout of this alcohol content, which is masked wonderfully by the complex flavors of this beer. Everything seems to come together for this beer, and I would love to see what it turns into with a few more years on it.
I've seen prices listed for this anywhere from $12-25, but honestly I have no idea what its distribution was like, including what states (if any) it made it to. I was lucky enough to trade for a bottle of it from someone in Vermont, but that was two years ago and I've yet to see anyone else have it on their 'Gots' on BeerAdvocate since then. For what I traded for it - some locals and seasonals - I say this was a pretty good value.
Overall, this is an impressive beer that highlights the benefits of wine barrel-aging, which in itself is relatively uncommon, and collaboration between seven breweries. This was a special beer for me, and I would love the opportunity to try this again.

Beer Stats
Style: American Double / Imperial Stout
Serving: Bottle
Size: 375oz
ABV: 12.00%
BA Score: 90
RB Score: 100

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Written by Greg Bruce

While studying at Penn State, Greg learned that beer could serve a much better purpose than a means to an end for a good party. Delicately brewed Belgians acted as a stark contrast to the almost watery beer that had been so popular and began the journey towards craft beer. From that launch point he always seems to land on something new. Greg approaches each beer, whether it is an aggressively-hopped West Coast IPA or an English bitter (and everything between), with a clear mind and open opinion, ready to analyze, compare, and ultimately, enjoy. While always fond of stouts (especially barrel-aged) and IPAs, Greg is slowly but surely drifting towards various soured beers. Find Greg Bruce on Google Plus

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