Kansas City, Missouri’s Boulevard Brewing Company has released a Belgian style Quadrupel with cherries aged in bourbon barrels. The complex and malty character of the Quad is well suited to this type of aging since it can stand up to the strong flavors imparted by the barrel. The particular blend of flavors is also a great match.
The beer pours a deep red caramel color with a crackling white head that quickly goes out. The smell of bourbon is readily apparent as soon as the bottle is opened up. There are hints of vanilla and spice, as well as a strong alcohol scent. There is not, however, that strong of a woody presence from the oak. The malt adds sweet notes of banana bread and clove. There’s some caramel notes from the malt as well. There’s not much of the fruity flavor sometimes present in some Belgian styles. The cherries give a smooth, sweet finish, but get drowned out by stronger malt flavors as the beer warms. Hops add little noticeable flavor.
The beer definitely has a warming effect on the way down. Consider the warming a warning, since this is close to 12% alcohol by volume.
The flavors of the malt and the bourbon barrel, despite being complex on their own, blend well together. The mix of sweet malt and spicy bourbon make one think of gingerbread cookies, while the blend of banana and booziness calls to mind bananas foster. This is a highly impressive beer in terms of being strong and complex without seeming in any way unfocused.