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Big Rum from Big Rock

Big Rock has quietly launched a barrel-aged beer series with currently two releases under its belt. The second and most recent release is a rum-barrel Barley Wine. Their barley wine was aged an impressive 8 months in rum casks from a renowned Barbados distillery and then blended with a dark amber ale. The result was a 10.8% alcohol beer.

The story behind the beer caught my interest so I scooped up a bottle recently and decided to give it a try.

It pours a slightly hazy mahogany brown, offering almost no head to speak of. I note it has a rather quiet carbonation. The aroma gives off dark raisin, molasses, brown sugar, some earthy notes, a bit of rum and a butterscotch oak. Rather inviting all around.

The sip starts rather viscous and sweet. I pick up molasses, burnt caramel, dark fruit, sherry as well as light maple syrup. The middle brings out a light rum character of candy and brown sugar. The back is slightly alcoholic accented by a raisin and a subtle wood character. It finishes slightly sweet and leaves a linger reminding me of rum, brown sugar and a hint of warming.

It is surprisingly light-bodied and gentle for a 10% beer. The barrel character is either well integrated into the beer or is subdued, depending on what kind of barrel hit you are expecting going in. I find the slight candy note interesting and adds something to the beer. I must say the base beer doesn’t seem barley wine enough, too light and silky. I attribute that to the blending with the dark amber, but I am not entirely sure what they were aiming for with that decision. Because it says barley wine on the label, consumer’s expectations lead in a direction of a more traditional barley wine body. On that score it falls short. That said, the impression the beer does give – if you disregard the label – is quite pleasant and appreciated.

The choice of a rum barrel might be perfect for this beer. It accents the dark fruit and caramel sweetness and generally brings out the best features of the beer.

If I were to judge it as a barley wine, I would be disappointed. But if I simply look at it as a rum barrel beer with some alcohol content, it is more satisfying. The rum character adds enough to keep the beer interesting throughout the sip. A good barrel-aging effort. A tweak on what to call it would help.


5 comments to Big Rum from Big Rock

  • Dan

    Just to let you know.. this actually is the sixth Barrel aged beer that Big Rock has made! 🙂 Back in early 2015 Big Rock had Released a 3 pack of Barrel Aged beers all aged in separate Barrels, This was the start of their Barrel aged series 🙂

    As well If you age the beer it may help as well I have one aged and maybe a revisit of this beer might be what you need 🙂 I did enjoy this beer a lot! I wanted this barley wine in a Rum Barrel and I thought it was awesome 😀

    • beerguy

      I appreciate that. But it is the second in the “new” series according to their website. It might more accurately be called the second of their formalized series.

      • Dan

        Big Rock has also been known to take down the beers of their limited Series when they are sold out. I’ve been looking on their website, and I don’t see where it says the second in the series. If we are breaking it down that way for the second series then it should be:

        Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter that was released in March 2016 and sold out
        Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Amber that was released in Aug 2016 and still Available in store
        Rum Barrel Aged Barley wine that was released in Nov 2016 that is still Available in stores

        Again I’m a huge fan of the Barrel Aged series from them and I have been getting every one of them from last year to this year and have been following them for some time, I also have the press release notes from them too that doesn’t say it is the second one. I mean no disrespect on this I just wanted to let you know 🙂

  • Holy smokes. I went to CO-OP today to try this and refuse to pay $ 5.95 for 1 bottle of beer. Be it as it may their was always the option of Innis and Gunn. Here is a hint to the burgeoning Alberta craft beer market. Stop the IPA over hopped trend. Most of the new comers tend to go this way and it’s in my opinion the overused decision. I’m not cheap or thrifty but Dam $ 5.95. Thanks

    • Dan

      Go to Willow Park wine, they have it there for 5.06, if you really want to try it. As well when you are drinking a beer that is 11% and it is only 5.00 or 6.00 for a small bottle like that, you are getting a good deal. Most 11% beers are in the 15-16.00 range for a bomber.

      Think of it this way, the Barrel aged beer from last Best Brewing, is 20.00 for the bomber.

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