2/11/21: Braxton Brewing Company's Rum Barrel Aged Snow Shovel (2018)

12:20 PM

I can't believe the day is finally here: The day I get to drink my remaining bottle of Braxton's 2018 release of Rum Barrel Aged Snow Shovel. Sure, I absolutely could've broken into it at any time, but I wanted to wait for an exceptionally snowy day. Tuesday would've been perfect if I'd been able to get to it (we got something like 5-6'' of snow Monday night). Last night, though, we got an inch or two more.

Right now I should be outside, using my actual snow shovel to clear off my driveway. But, since I'm a procrastinator to the very core of my being, I'm putting that off. Instead, I'm choosing to drink this beer. Before going further, I encourage you to click here and read up on my now nearly-three years old post about the ale, so that way you'll know what I'm comparing this aged bottle to.

Did you read it? Good. I don't want to waste more time. Here we go: a 2018 bottle of Braxton's RBA Snow Shovel.

Evan Rouse, Braxton's founder, created a homebrewing setup in his parent's garage as a teenager. Now, about a decade or so later, he runs my favorite Covington, KY brewery. He's an innovator and the brewery's DIY attitude and atmosphere make that abundantly clear. He was also recently on Forbes' "30 Under 30" list, which goes to show how innovative the guy is. Here's Braxton's "Our Story" page if you want to learn about the brewery.

Rum Barrel Aged Snow Shovel is an 11.4% ABV winter warmer. Brewed with honey, ginger, and cinnamon, this malt-minded ale spent over a year in Caribbean rum barrels (it then spent three years aging in my cellar, but your mileage on this front may vary).

The cinnamon and honey are both immediately present in the ale's bouquet, as is the rum barrel (which imparts notes of oak, burnt caramel, and raisin). I'm finding neither the ginger nor an abundance of malt. Three years back, chocolate was the first aspect of the nose that struck me. It's still here , only further back and more subdued. I have to say, I'm super impressed with how the ale's aromatics have mellowed over time. Purrl, who gave my tulip glass one whiff, doesn't agree with me.

Snow Shovel's flavor profile has also mellowed. The wood and the caramel from three years ago have smoothed out, leaving a distinct rumminess. There's a good wallop of dark chocolate here that I didn't quite pick up on before. Overall, it's drinking beautifully now; I'm not sure I'd want to age it any longer than this.

The ale's mouthfeel has continued to develop over the years. It's no longer anything that I'd describe as having "bite." It's velvety smooth, complimenting it's robust body perfectly.

Looking at the beer in my glass, I'm amazed at how well the carbonation has held together. There's a tightly-laced, finger-sized khaki-colored head. The ale itself is a deep mahogany. This bottle of Snow Shovel looks as good as it tastes.

Michelle and I recently went on a cabin trip where we got snowed in for a day or so, which is exactly what we wanted to happen. We went for hikes in the hills surrounding the property. We made big, hearty meals. We soaked in the hot tub outside. All the while, the snow fell and fell, covering the ground, sticking in our hair, and silencing the world. I had plenty of good beer on that trip to help me keep warm, but this bottle would've been a great addition.

I'm amazed with how the last three years have treated Braxton's Rum Barrel Aged Snow Shovel--this isn't the same beer it was. It's become a mellow ale, filled with warm aromatics and subtle flavors. The smoothness of the whole affair is unlike anything I've ever experienced from a beer. It's still a 10/10 ale for me, getting my warmest recommendation, but in a different way. This is an older, more nuanced beer than it's younger counterpart was.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I really should go and shovel the snow from my drive.

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