11/21/21: Jackie O's Pub and Brewery's Bourbon Barrel Black Maple (2021)

2:43 PM

In my previous post, I said that, with the three brews I had remaining, we were moving onto the bruisers of the month. The beer I drank then was 12% ABV. The next two get progressively stronger.


Today's beer is Jackie O's Bourbon Barrel Black Maple. I won't lie to you: I've had this beer before. All the same, I excited to sit down with my bottle and spend some good, quality time with the beer. Really do it up with the whole John Likes Beer treatment. It's cold, grey, and rainy out but we have a fire roaring in our stove. It's perfect heavy maple beer weather.

Jackie O's is an Athens, OH staple, and one of the state's most renowned breweries (which, given how many breweries we have, and the quality regularly showcased by those breweries, is saying a lot). Named after founder Art Oestrike's mom, Jackie, the brewey's been in operation and brewing its craft for Athens locals since 2007. In 2009 it opened a second location, Jackie O's Public House, next door to its original brewpub. 2013 (the year I graduated from undergrad), the brewery opened a canning facility and taproom immediately behind the house I was renting, finally providing it with the option to distribute its beers easily around the state and beyond. They've since expanded beyond Athens, adding a Columbus Location (Jackie O's On Fourth) to their deck. Hard to believe they've grown so much while continuing to make some of the best damn beer I've ever had.

Oh, hey, speaking of some the best damn beer I've ever had, Bourbon Barrel Black Maple's a 13.1% ABV porter (!) that was originally intended to be a one-off experiment. Luckily, after trying the BBA imperial porter (featuring an addition of maple syrup into the boil for complexity), Jackie O's brew team decided to make it an annual offering.

Now be amazed as I unpack BBBM's bouquet: I'm first presented with the bourbon barrels in which the porter rested, oak, vanilla, and some booze (not as much as you might be inclined to think). I'm also finding maple syrup, brown sugar, and coffee. Beneath this second layer lurks dark fruit (some plum, som fig), dark chocolate, nuttiness (walnut and mild pecan), dense fudge, and a touch--only a touch--of molasses. 

Needless to say, I'm pretty infatuated with the porter's nose. Purrl gave my bottle nine whiffs, indicating that she's pretty into it, too.


BBBM's booze is absolutely present in the flavor like you'd expect--warming my core well into the finish, mingling there with some maple and some fudge. But, I'm getting ahead of myself here. The porterness of the beer is the first thing I notice from its flavor profile: coffee, dark chocolate, and a light--very slight--smokiness, before the nuts settle in (pecans, walnuts, and a faint hint of peanuts [which aren't really nuts; I know that]). After this, the bourbon barrel flavors settle in nicely, all oak and vanilla, followed by the plums and figs I noted above. Then, the maple shines through with a bit of brown sugar, before the latter falls away and the former settles into the finish with some fudge and the booze. The molasses I picked up in BBBM's aroma isn't present in its flavor profile.

The porter features a soft mouthfeel, one that's creamy, almost silky. For a porter that features flavors and aromatics that are as robust as what this one features, it's perfect.

You know, I was right. What a fine November evening this has become. I have the dull grey of the November weather outside of my window. I have the warmth of the fire roaring (I just threw on a new log). I have Henrietta (for those of you who are new here, she's another cat) laying in my lap, purring away happily. And, I have Jackie O's Bourbon Barrel Black Maple warming in its bottle. 

I've said to a few people before that Jackie O's Bourbon Barrel Black Maple is my favorite beer. Now, I'm going on record with that statement, boasting the qualitative evidence that is this glowing post to support it. This is a 10/10. If you see it, buy it and drink it. It's a stunning maple imperial porter. I look forward to its release each and every year; it's one I actively hunt down.

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