Who has the best Bourbon Barrel Porter?
On a recent visit to Scotts Addition in Richmond, VA, I stopped in Isley Brewing for a pint. After scanning the beer list I decided on a beer they were calling “This Ain’t Kentucky”, a bourbon barrel aged oatmeal porter.
I have always liked barrel aged stouts and porters and Isley normally brews beer that is just north of pretty darn good, so I expected to enjoy it. But I was wrong.
I loved it! This beer wasn’t good, it was exceptional.
They told me they use bourbon barrels from Reservoir Distillery, which is located just one block away. Their bourbon is made from a 100% corn mash bill. Where most distillers add rye and or wheat to the grain bill, Reservoir Distillery feels that using only local corn they create a brighter flavor profile that makes their bourbon stand out from the rest. They also use smaller barrels which means the spirits have more contact with the wood, imparting a even more complex flavor.
Isley uses these smaller bourbon barrels to age their oatmeal porter, which then imparts more flavor from the bourbon and the barrel, creating a truly remarkable tasting beer.
This Ain’t Kentucky has a dark black coffee color, a dense tan head, and has a chocolate bourbon aroma with a hint of maple, which carries through into the rich, complex, flavor.
This porter stands out from all other bourbon barrel aged beers as something special. Whether it is due to the barrels, the bourbon, the skill of the brewers at Isley, or some combination of the three, I can’t be sure. But the results can’t be denied. Local brewer Isley and local distiller Reservoir have come together and made something that is truly extraordinary.