January 5, 2023

Two barrel-aged doublebocks for two special occasions ➯ OMG Bourbon Barrel-Aged Doublebock (2019) from BeerBazaar & Barrel-Aged Doublebock (Vintage 2021) from Shevet

If you're like me, you've been putting away stronger beers, beers that can age well, for "special occasions."  Only, most often, the special occasion is slow in coming, if it comes at all.

So we have to decide to make our own occasions special.

I did that recently to drink two barrel-aged doublebock lagers ("Doppelbock" in the original German) that have been waiting patiently for me to make up my mind.  

Shevet Brewstillery's Barrel-Aged Doublebock:
Aging in the bottle does it good.

The first was the Barrel-Aged Doublebock, Vintage 2021, from the Shevet Brewstillery in Pardes Hanna.  The label was signed by Neil Wasserman, CEO of the brewery, and by Brewmaster (at the time) Felix Magdziarz.  It is bottle number 320 of 437.  The alcohol by volume was 8%.  

The occasion was a synagogue kiddush (post-service repast) which was held on the Sabbath of the holiday of Sukkot.  I decided it was enough of a reason to open the bottle. 

Because of religious restrictions, there were no photographs nor written notes taken.  But I remember the beer and the reactions to it.  Both were exceptional.  

The participants at the kiddush were no strangers to alcoholic beverages, but they had never experienced a beer like this -- or even known that such a style existed.

The Shevet Brewstillery in Pardes Hanna
uses whisky barrels to age beer,
and beer barrels to age whisky.
I had foolishly expected that my 750 milliliter bottle would be more than sufficient for the few sips that everyone would try.  But they wanted more -- and more -- and there was widespread disappointment when the bottle soon was emptied.  

What so excited their tastebuds?

Back when the beer was first put on the market, Brewmaster Magdziarz had told me that the original doublebock beer was brewed in January 2020, fermented in steel tanks, and then just a portion of it (500-600 liters) was aged in new American oak charred barrels for six months.

"After six months," Magdziarz continued, "we blended a few of the barrels, added carbonation, and bottled.  The beer was released in April 2021."

What should we be looking out for?, I remember asking.

Neil Wasserman, CEO of the 
Shevet Brewstillery in Pardes Hanna.

Magdziarz answered that after barrel-aging, we can expect the beer to be "a little sweeter and a little darker than the original doppelbock, with flavor notes of vanilla, oak, nuts, and some smoke from the charring."     

The close to two years that the beer has been aging in my closet has probably mellowed out the original flavors, but they were still unmistakable.

The color was a soft red amber and, not surprisingly, very little carbonation was left.  My fellow kiddush participants noted several different aromas and tastes: Caramel, vanilla and wood (from the barrel), some strong alcohol, and even a dash of coconut.  The body was full without being heavy.  

These are all good, warming sensations you should expect from a strong, barrel-aged beer. 

I noticed that some of the reviews of the beer when it was launched mentioned a strong taste of apples, an indicator of acetaldehyde, which is an off-flavor resulting from incomplete fermentation.  Aging a beer is a good way to get rid of acetaldehyde -- and this was one of the benefits we all enjoyed by letting my Shevet Barrel-Aged Doublebock have a long sleep in the bottle.  Apparently, the smoky flavors also dissipated.  

The old blogger and his three sons toasted the 
first night of Hanukka and the
final game of the Mondial World Soccer Cup 
by opening an aged bottle of 
OMG Bourbon Barrel-Aged Doublebock
from the BeerBazaar Brewery in Kiryat Gat.  

My second doublebock was sleeping in my closet and fridge even longer.  It was BeerBazaar's OMG Bourbon Barrel-Aged Doublebock from 2019.  This bottle was signed by BeerBazaar Brewmaster Lior Weiss, and was bottle number 317 out of 498.  Alcohol by volume was 7%.

The BeerBazaar Brewery in Kiryat Gat has been issuing annual editions of OMG (Oh My Goodness!) beers since 2019, each one a different barrel-aged style.  

(You can read my earlier posts on previous OMG beers, including the 2019 Doublebock, by clicking here and here and here.)

I opened this one with my family around me -- wife, sons, daughters-in-law and grandkids -- as we watched the final game of the Mondial Soccer World Cup, which saw Argentina beat France.  It was also the first candle-lighting night of Hanukka.  I thought the intersection of two such memorable events made it a "special occasion."

The Bourbon Barrel-Aged Doublebock (2019) from
the BeerBazaar Brewery was the first of the
OMG series of barrel-aged beers.

We all gathered around as I opened the bottle of OMG Doublebock -- and the beer promptly gushed out.  Luckily we were near a bowl when this happened, so it didn't cause too much of a mess.  Beer that has been aged in bottles often foams over, especially if it's being served at room temperature, as we were doing.

It didn't affect the quality of the beer, though.  The golden orange liquid, only slightly hazy, gave off rich aromas of bourbon, vanilla, burnt sugar and oak wood.  The sweet taste was rich with more booze, chocolate, caramel and oak.  The mouthfeel was surprisingly smooth, without much alcoholic heat.  

The OMG Doublebock gave me and the sons just the right feeling for this special occasion.  In fact, that's what helped make it a special occasion!     

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