2/13/20: Paradise Brewing's Off Kilter Imperial Scottish Ale (2019)

2:22 PM

This is a bottle I've been sitting on for two years, waiting for the perfect time to break into it. Tomorrow's the last day of my vacation and I don't have any more PTO in sight (we might have a snow day this week if the weather reports are right, but I've learned to not hold my breath). As such, and especially now that we're just beyond the two year anniversary of the beer, I'm deeming the time perfect enough. Let's say goodbye to my vacation in style.


The beer is Paradise's Off Kilter. I had three bottles of it initially. I took one down to Texas with me a week after it released and split it with a buddy. After today, I'll have one left. Who knows how long that'll last in my cellar before the time is perfect enough to break into it again?


Paradise Brewing, which opened in 2014, is Anderson Township's (Cincinnati, OH) first brewery. While two more have opened since, Paradise continues to put out great rotating beers across its thirteen taps and run a robust homebrew supply store. They also, on special occasions, bottle some of their brews.

One of those rare bottled Paradise beers is what I'm drinking today: Off Kilter. Paradise's third (limited!) bottle release, Off Kilter's an Imperial Scottish Ale, aged in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels, that clocks in at 9.6% ABV. Topped with a bonnet and kilt, I'm expecting the beer to be warming, woody, malty, and smooth.


The bourbon comes out swinging on the nose, all vanilla, oak, caramel, some black pepper, and a definite warming booziness. Behind this, I find that malty quality I was expecting (caramel--not to be confused with that from the barrel aging--and biscuit). There's also some dark fruit here: plum, raisin, and fig. Overall, this is a heady bouquet. Purrl gave my bottle sixteen whiffs, so she's as infatuated with it as I am.


Buttery bourbon is the first flavor on my tongue. It's brown sugar and cinnamon, fried dough and sour oak. I'm stunned by everything the barrels have imparted to the ale. The heart of the beer is there, too, coming through in the maltiness with touches of honey, caramel, and biscuit, with a bit of dryness from the mild hops. The finish is that oaky and vanilla bourbon barrel with a slight amount of boozy warmth and a hint (maybe an implied hint that I'm imagining is present when it isn't) of peat, but nothing that hits like the 9.6% ABV the ale actually is.

Even though Off Kilter's mouthfeel is a little thinner that I would've expected, it's exactly what the style calls for (that BBA-ness had me thinking it'd drink like a stout for some reason). Regardless, what's here still fits the flavor profile and bouquet. It has a robust carbonation and sticks to my cheeks.

Don't ask me why, but this ale's got me thinking about sea shanties. I wish I could tell you why, but I couldn't stop my mind from turning to that TikTok video about how 2021's the year of the sea shanty. You know, the one in this tweet.

So, I turned to bandcamp to find some shanties to accompany me for the rest of the post--I've been working my way through the Dreadnaughts' Into the North for the last half-hour, which is strangely just the music to which I'd want to drink something like Off Kilter.

I'll cut to the chase: Paradise's Off Kilter is not only drinking phenomenally right now it's also a hell of an ale, one that showcase exactly what bourbon barrel aging can bring to a beer. It gets an easy recommendation of 9.5/10. It's a damn good thing that they don't bottle beer more often--my wallet wouldn't survive!

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