QuandaryDecember 16, 2013
River North Brewery
Review: For a beer lover, barrel-aged beers can be a cause for excitement or trepidation. Quandary takes the journey into new territory. River North Brewery has added a dramatic element by choosing a quadrupel as its base and changing out the barrel each year. For 2014, its whiskey.
It pours with a brilliant auburn color leaving a rich head and burgundy highlights around the edge of the glass. Big whiskey nose with hints of figs. The sharp heat of the alcohol is held up by the dry fruit aroma. The flavor is very hot with burnt caramel notes and some vanilla in the background. It brings to mind a rich crème brûlée. The finish has a suggestion of salt with a winey/orangey-tang bite in the back end. The ethanol in the finish keeps a hot balance between the harshness of the whiskey baked with the nutty, brown sugar depth of the barley. For such a rich beer, it lacks a cloying finish and has a comfortable mouthfeel.
Brings to mind an extremely cozy bar on the isle of Colonsay, Scotland, surrounded by heath and the dour Scottish cold. Surprisingly, the finish is very brief. All of the whiskey slides away, leaving behind the rich malty beer notes without the mouth of intense malt. If the thickness of bourbon barrel-aged beer is too rich for you, then taste the Quandary and enjoy this famous beer category.