12/12/18: Braxton Labs’ Bourbon Barrel Aged Kringle

5:18 PM

It's now within two weeks of Christmas and, I have to admit, I've not been feeling particularly festive lately. Maybe it's because of the weather--sure, it's been cold, and I mean cold, but the snow's been keeping away. Maybe it's because we don't have a tree--that should be remedied Friday. Maybe it's because work's been a little hectic. Who knows?

I'm hoping to rekindle some of the Christmas magic tonight with the first (of three!) holiday releases to drop under Braxton's banner this year (note that I'm only tackling two of these during my Christmas blow-out): Bourbon Barrel Aged Kringle, hailing from Braxton Labs. This is a beer I've never had before, but, if it's as good as described, it should do just the trick.

You probably know about Braxton--hell, I just wrote about them about them last month--but you may not know about Braxton Labs. This is the first time I've talked about one of their beers here on the blog.

Braxton Labs is located in Bellevue, KY. It shares a space with The Party Source, a rad place to nab some good beers, ciders, and liquors. Anyway, Braxton Labs acts as an extension of Braxton proper, offering the core beers on tap while experimenting on-site with their own recipes. I've been to the taproom more than a few times and can say, without hyperbole, that Labs' brews are consistently quality works of inspiration and/or madness. I'm extremely excited to see how they tackle a Christmas brew.

Bourbon Barrel Aged Kringle is a 13.1% ABV Belgian Quadrupel that's a variation of a beer they released last year. This year's offering, as you may have guessed from the name, has spent some time in bourbon barrels. It has notes of fruit, candied sugar, and vanilla, all of which are wrapped in a oaky finish.

I get a lot from the ale's nose: vanilla, oak, dark fruits (plum and fig, namely), licorice, and molasses cookies. There's quite a bit going on here, and each waft of my Belgian glass invites me back for another. Henrietta, the cat most readily available tonight, was very much intrigued by BBA Kringle's bouquet. She gave it fourteen initial whiffs and has since returned to my glass for a few more.

She's too young and jittery for me to get an in-focus shot.
The molasses cookie is present in the quad's flavor. As is the fruit--only lightly so, however--and the vanilla. There's also a boozy warmth here that makes itself known in the oaky finish that continues to warm me long after my swig, and there's a touch more molasses that lingers around on my tongue to meet it. This is a sweet beer, but the alcohol does a fine job of tempering that sweetness while complimenting it at the same time.

BBA Kringle has a nice effervescence to it. The head of the ale didn't hang around long, but there's still a bite of carbonation left that keeps each swig from being overwhelming; a flat beer with this much going on, as delicious as it is, would be a daunting thing to drink!

Since I was a kid, my family, specifically my mom, has always done something I love. Once my parents put up their tree and get it decorated (until we moved out, my brother and I would always help with the latter part of this) it becomes the de facto nighttime light. Watching TV? Turn out the overhead lights and whatever lamps may be around and plug in the lights strung around the tree. Going to bed but your teenage son is staying up to play video games? Out go the lights, on comes the tree.

I vividly remember this being the case since I was a small child all the way through high school and college. I'm willing to bet my parents still do this now--it's a practice I've carried forward into my own adult life. Here we are, on December 12th, and I know that, regardless of my tree situation, my parents' tree is up. I can't wait to go home to see it, and I can't wait to go home to make new Christmas memories with them.

You know what? Braxton Lab's Bourbon Barrel Aged Kringle has helped me to rekindle that special something that makes up the holiday spirit. It's a Christmas miracle, Charlie Brown. While I'm sitting here on my couch, my mind is wandering to some of my favorite yuletide memories. BBA Kringle gets a rock solid 10/10 from me. It may be my favorite release from the Braxton family yet, and that's saying something. If you find yourself in the vicinity of NKY, you need to head to Bellevue and pick up a bottle or, at the very least, try the ale on tap. It's absolutely phenomenal.

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