Ah Pappy Burleson. This beer is named for Randy Burleson, and huge supporter of the Oklahoma craft beer scene from way back, and pretty much one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. When I saw an Instagram post a few weeks back showing them slapping labels on the new batch I got incredibly excited. This was one of the most fun local releases for me last year as it boasted a huge 17% ABV, had a cool story behind it, and was aged in Breckenridge Bourbon barrels. This year’s batch is aged in Jack Daniels barrels, still boasts that big and strong 17% and still has the great story on the label from Matt, one of Anthem’s founders, about Randy Burleson.
Now for a bit of a rant. I’ve already seen a couple of people making comments about the “Bourbon barrel” statement on the label and claiming that Jack isn’t Bourbon, so the label isn’t correct. While it’s true that Jack Daniels doesn’t market itself as Bourbon and instead goes with “Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey”, thats’s just marketing. All Bourbons (except for a few experimental expressions like Woodford’s Sweet Mash) use a sour mash, and Jack Daniels meets ALL of the criteria to call itself a Bourbon. The Lincoln County Process doesn’t invalidate its Bourbon-ness, which is normally the argument from those un-educated on the subject, only its marketing does. So could the label just say “aged in Whiskey barrels”? Yes. Should it bother anyone that it says “aged in Bourbon barrels”? No. We all clear on that? Sweet. Moving on.
I met up with Justin on a sunny Friday afternoon to crack this bad boy open, which is one of the best ways to enjoy the 2 o’clock hour. We laughed, we cried, we got kind of buzzed. It was really beautiful. Anyways, without burning anymore of your time, let’s get on with the drinky words.
Disclaimer: This product was provided at no cost to Barrels and Mash with no strings attached.
Company: Anthem Brewing Company
Location: Oklahoma City, OK
Style/Description: Wheat Wine Ale Aged in Bourbon Barrels
Price: $18 (750 ml bottle)
Appearance: Pours a hazy copper with light tan head and light lacing.
Nose: Boozy barrel goodness jumps out of the glass. The aroma is pretty rich with some great whiskey notes like brown sugar and vanilla. A whiff of dried fruits (raisins, mostly) joins the party as well, and as the glass warmed up a nice little nutty thing starting showing up.
Taste: The first thing that hit us was the wheat. The grain is well highlighted here and finds good balance with the other flavors. The barrel notes are less obvious than on the nose, but there is definitely some whiskey hanging around in the form of light brown sugar, vanilla, and an oaky dryness. Justin also got a buttery popcorn note that he seemed to dig. There is a touch of a hot ethanol thing going on in this beer which subsided a bit as it warmed.
Finish: This brew heads off into the sunset with a pretty dry and wheat-y goodbye. There is a bright lemon bitterness that rolls in as well as some of the dry barrel oak notes. I was left feeling like I had taken a sip of whiskey instead of beer, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Overall: Our big takeaway from this one was how much the wheat came out, and how this one felt more like an English style brew than the last. There was that hit of alcohol on the taste that was really my only complaint, but I’m not letting that impact the score because I know that it’ll be one of the first things to drop off, AND this is freaking 17% so it’s expected. Once that burn falls off it’ll be smooth sailing. So, go get you a couple of these and hang on to the first one for a week or so before popping it. This’ll be a great one to cellar too with that huge abv.
Normally I would reference last year’s batch more on a thing like this, but I intentionally held back as we are planning a side-by-side in the next couple of weeks with a fresh bottle of this and a batch 1 that I’ve had in my cellar. So keep your eye out for that one.