With another long and heavy week nearing its end, Tasting Notes has us shutting down the office early with small pours of one big ol’ beer: Blue BBLs (2018) from Bruery Terreux (Orange County, California).
Officially released back in January as a Society offering from Bruery Terreux, Blue BBLs (2018) – the “BBLs” is a notation for “barrel,” a unit of measurement equal to 31 gallons – is “a special blend of . . . bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout with . . . bourbon barrel-aged sour stout, plus an addition of juicy blueberries.” This careful blend offers a complex experience that has “the acidity from the sour stout seamlessly [balancing] the sweet malt character of the imperial stout, and the tannins from the berries [amplifying] the fruity character.” Blue BBLs (2018) weighs in at a massive 16.5% ABV.
Alrighty . . . that should adequately cover everyone’s need for background info, so let’s not waste any more time and get to scribblin’ down these Tasting Notes!
Tasting Notes for Blue BBLS (2018) from Bruery Terreux
Appearance: Blue BBLS pours a cola-like dark brown to black in color and builds just under half a finger of slightly purple tinted, tan-colored foam. The beer is completely opaque, but a healthy amount of the tiniest of bubbles can be seen breaking the surface of the pour. The head dissipates nearly immediately, leaving behind just a brushstroke of airy foam to linger in the center of the glass. There is no lacing to report.
Aroma: Lovely oak greets the nose first with a pronounced woody character that offers a touch of vanilla as well. The blueberries take over from there with a fruity burst that is both tart and sweet. Roasted grains, a bit of coffee, and a splash of bourbon sneaks in at the end of the profile to smooth it all out.
Taste: The flavor profile begins with an interesting mix of blueberries that are both sweet and tart and a complementary presence that reads as a vinous, red wine-like note. The bourbon barrel then makes itself known by offering tones of vanilla, charred wood, brown sugar and booze. The blueberries and barrel then collide to produce complex notes of leather and tobacco. The Imperial Stout character is the last to step forward and rounds off any rough edges with a nice level of roast, dark chocolate and toffee.
Mouthfeel: On the lighter side of full-bodied with a moderate carbonation, this stout comes across as slick and a little thin (in a good way). Although the beer works the palate heavily with tart, sour and sweet flavors, it dries out beautifully like a fine red wine. As expected, the 16.5% ABV brings some heat that starts in the throat and carries down into the belly. Aftertaste is all booze-soaked blueberries.
Final Thoughts: Blue BBLS is a gorgeously composed Sour Stout and the source of its beauty is found in its layers. The aromas and flavors both hold three distinct layers: a Sour Ale heavily laced with blueberries, bourbon barrel character, and straight up Imperial Stout. Sure, those tannic blueberry and red wine qualities are assertive and the first thing to grab your attention, but everything ultimately settles down and smooths out as the layers of Stout and Bourbon establish themselves. Each layer works so well on its own only because they all work so well together. This harmonious level of balance (found in the blend, flavors, aromas, etc.) acts as the keystone that locks the entire experience together. All in all, Blue BBLs is a dynamic and delicately complex offering that truly must be experienced to be fully understood. If you ever cross paths with this beer out in the wild, do whatever it takes to ensure that you walk away with a pour. You certainly will not regret it. Prost!