Review: Rolling Meadows Barrel Aged Abe’s Ale

In Beer Reviews by Ryan

Rolling Meadows says:

“Our maple syrup Brown Ale is aged in Elijah Craig 12 Year bourbon barrels for over 6 months. This barrel immersion imparts a vanilla aroma and smoothness to the roasted coffee flavor. Notes of toasted malt, oak and raisin bread balance with a dry espresso finish. Enjoy this handcrafted brew in a goblet style glass for the best flavor experience.”

Rolling Meadows Barrel Aged Abe’s Ale
Brown Ale, 12.5 ABV

Rolling Meadows Barrel Aged Abe's AleWe’ve gone on and on in the past about Rolling Meadows Abe’s Ale. More like an imperial brown, it clocks in at nearly 10% ABV, but doesn’t taste the least bit boozy. Instead, it treats your taste buds to the warming-ly sweet flavors of maple syrup and brown sugar with a nutty finish. It was one of our favorite beers poured during South of 80 and remains on our short list to grab whenever we head downstate.

It goes without saying, then, we were borderline giddy with child-like excitement when we learned Rolling Meadows would be barrel aging Abe’s. And our excitement was justified.

The barrel aging of this beer took everything we love about Abe’s and made it better. In fact, the flavor profile barely changed except for the addition of sweet bourbon and a touch of oak and vanilla.

Maple, oak and vanilla in the nose sets the tone. The bourbon aromas are light and airy and, overall, the barrel aged Abe’s remains fairly thin in body. Take a sip and you have the familiar flavors that makes the Abe’s Ale so good; the maple, the brown sugar, maybe some pecans and the tiniest hint of hops. Where’s the bourbon then? Right where it should be – lingering on the periphery. You know it’s there, but it doesn’t overtake any of the original flavors of the Abe’s Ale, instead it accentuates them.

I know it’s early in 2013, but this may go down as my favorite beer of the year.

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Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.