This past Wednesday my father and I stopped by Big Ditch Brewing Company for Stoutsgiving. Before taking my spot at the bar and enjoying a pint I made sure to stop at the cooler and purchase some take homes beer. Alongside the Bourbon Barrel Aged, (BBA), Towpath was the Detour Series, a series of beers that were used to explore different flavors blended into BBA Towpath. As much as I would love to explore each of them in this ‘Brewview,’ I’m not sure I would be able to type coherently after the first two. With that being said I am going to focus on BBA Towpath tonight, though don’t be surprised if I add on the other ones another time.
The Beer: BBA Towpath by Big Ditch Brewing Company
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.3% IBU: N/A
Now I’ve had the original Towpath before and it was delicious. Almost too delicious that it might make one think it would be impossible to create another version that could compare. Let’s see how BBA Towpath lives up to its original counter part.
Found on Untappd
‘Barges on the old Erie Canal were often pulled by beasts of burden along a Towpath, which were roadways alongside the canal. This bourbon barrel aged version of our imperial stout, which was originally brewed to commemorate our 200th batch, is a beast of a beer itself, clocking in at 10.3% ABV, and featuring a full-bodied, rich and roasty flavor, complemented by notes of vanilla and chocolate from the barrel aging process.’
Down The Path
Just cracking the can open got my nerves going. But what really got my mouthwatering was the delicious combinations of aromas from BBA Towpath. The strongest of the aromas was the bourbon that instantly grabs a hold of you. A pleasant, thick, and all encompassing bourbon aroma that will instantly let you know BBA Towpath is not for the weak at heart and not for quick consumption. Surrounding the bourbon aroma are smooth flowing aromas of roasty vanilla and chocolate. Though the bourbon aroma packs a punch it almost has an elevating component with the other aromas as well. They all seem to work together to make the perfect trio.
The color of BBA Towpath is exactly what I expected, black. There is absolutely no visibility through this beer. Creating the perfect first impression.
Wow! BBA Towpath lives up to the original Towpath name. Smooth as glass even with the bourbon influence.
Upfront there is a nice sweet vanilla flavor that sticks around from beginning to end. The vanilla pairs very well with the full body and really gets your mouth tingling. Eventually, more towards mid sip is when I started to notice a more roasty characteristic. With this came a nice chocolate flavor that paired perfectly with the vanilla. Immediately once I got past the mid sip I started picking up notes of a soft bourbon flavor that got stronger throughout the remainder of the sip. Once you hit the end of the sip and start to swallow is when the bourbon really starts to jump out. And this is where I find Big Ditch’s brewing remarkable. As strong as the bourbon flavor is it doesn’t overpower the other flavors. It may become the main character in the story but by no means does it remove all attention from the other flavors. The other flavors linger on the sides keeping the bourbon flavor in check.
The aftertaste, now that’s another story. I’m still picking up on a pleasant roasted accent but the bourbon really shows its strength at this point. It doesn’t throw me off too much as to be overwhelming but it does pack a nice punch. Though it doesn’t take too long for the aftertaste to mellow out. From here we are left with soft touches of bourbon with a nice roasty vanilla mouthfeel. Big Ditch was spot on when they said full bodied and rich.
It’s pure genius!
End of the Path
I’m finding it quite difficult to think of any other BBA stouts that I’ve had in the past that fall in line with BBA Towpath. I’ve had some where the bourbon flavor is too strong and that’s all you’re able to taste. And I’ve had some that you wouldn’t even know it was barrel aged. Either way Big Ditch knew what they were doing when they originally brewed Towpath, now it’s almost like they’re showing off. Though I’m not complaining. BBA Towpath is a perfect depiction of an already perfect beer made even better. The combinations of the aromas as well as the flavors are almost like heaven in a glass. But in this case salvation ends with an empty glass. All the more reason to stock up before it’s too late!
I don’t know how you did it Big Ditch, but I love you for it!
PS: BBA Towpath has an ABV of 10.3% and it likes to show it off.