10/25/20: Warped Wing Brewing Company's Rum Barrel Aged Flying Heads (2019)

9:55 AM

Yesterday was chilly but today's downright cold. Michelle and I are in our living room with a fire blazing in our buck stove, which is piping heat into our home (we also have a furnace that does this, but a fire's more atmospheric). For the first time in months, I'm not doing a review from my porch. This is from my couch, as I sit in a hoodie and sweats. I've got some Halloweeny dungeon synth pumping through my speakers. It's still, definitely, the witching season.


You may recall me drinking Warped Wing's Bourbon Barrel Aged Flying Heads for my penultimate spooky post last year. Well, this year we're turning that Flying Heads next-to-last Halloween post into a tradition with 2019's Rum Barrel Aged variant. Let's see how the last year's treated the ale.

Warped Wing's based out of Dayton, OH. You can read all about the brewery here, on their "About Warped Wing" page, but I'll give you a quick rundown before we go any further. The brewery's named after a Wright brothers innovation that enabled the creation of human flying machines. That spirit of innovation  fuels the brewery's offerings--they put new twists on classic brewing styles.

One such new twist on a classic style is today's beer. Flying Heads is a dubbel ale, a classic Belgian style, with an addition of pumpkin and spices. This variation goes a step further to innovate by spending some time aged in rum barrels. According to its Untappd page, the beer's 9.4% ABV and is spiced with coriander, allspice, and cinnamon.

There's not much in the way of pumpkin or pumpkin pie spice to be found on the ale's nose. Instead, I'm getting smooth, warm vanilla from the rum and the oak and some chocolate from a source I can't identify. There's a heavy booziness buried under the rum and barrel notes that backs up that high ABV. Purrl gave my bottle five hesitant whiffs before turning away from it. Might be a touch too boozy for her. Me? I'm here for the ale's bouquet.


The pumpkin and the spice are both abundant in RBA Flying Heads' flavor profile. I taste the pumpkin first, all vegetable and earth, before encroaching upon a touch of spice--it's here but not overpowering in the slightest, just enough to make its presence known before bowing out to the star of the ale's showing: The rum barrels. Flying Heads took in seemingly every last drop of flavor from the barrels that it could. That warm, sugary vanilla from both the spirit and the oak barrel plays lightly off the whole pumpkin ale thing. It's an incredibly combination. The finish here is caramelized sugar and boozy warmth, with a bite of pumpkin rearing up in the way back.

RBA Flying Heads has a bold mouthfeel. Robust and full. Almost syrupy, without a shock of carbonation--most of that's faded over the last year. It's similar a long, dark night.

I was terrified of the dark, and everything that could be lurking in it, as a kid. That coupled with my (then undiagnosed) anxiety made for a lot of sleepless nights. I was an avid believer in ghosts back then, despite my dad's skepticism (I'm now about as skeptic as you can get). I also suffer mild sleep paralysis that I've tempered in the last few years. 

This means that, when I was a boy, I firmly believed I was seeing spirits. Once, while lying sleepless in my bed and staring out into the hallway I envisioned a whole family materialize in my doorframe. It was my family, myself included, but their smiles were sinister and crooked. Malicious.

Now I understand such sights as a combination of anxiety-related insomnia and sleep paralysis, but, as a kid, I was haunted. The flying heads--represented as winged jack-o'-lanterns on their namesake beer's artwork--could've easily fit in with the spectres I conjured.

This is one hell of a beer. Bombastic. Warped Wing consistently impresses with their quality, and Rum Barrel Aged Flying Heads is no exception. My bottle warrants a 9.5/10. I prefer the BBA variant, but this is still worth picking up. They bottled it again this year, so, if you can find Warped Wing in your area, this shouldn't proof too difficult to track down. 

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