Nebraska Brewing Company - Barrel Aged Reserve Series: Fathead
- ABV: 12.1%
- Bottle Size: 500-ml
- Serving Temperature: 50–57° F
- Suggested Glassware: Snifter, Tulip, Small Nonic, or Pinot Glass
Switching gears from Chardonnay to whiskey barrels, we get to head into the darker styles of Nebraska’s Barrel Aged Reserve Series. Fathead originally started as a strong Scotch-style ale, but it’s since headed into territory most resembling a barley wine. Aged for six months inside of freshly emptied whiskey barrels, and tipping the scales at just over 12% ABV, Fathead still somehow avoids feeling top-heavy: with lean, warming alcohol and fresh fruit throughout.
Nebraska’s whiskey-barrel-aged barley wine pours a deep, murky cola-brown, capped with a welcoming light-tan foam that’s fine-bubbled and nicely formed for a beer this high in ABV. Resilient lacing coats the side of the glass. An expansive vein of vinous heat and dense fruit lands first, bringing along dates, figs, plums, and berries. Chewier notes of caramelized sugar and leather perfectly complement the fruity, warming approach. The expansive flavors build upon everything offered up by the aroma. The mouthfeel’s more easier-going than expected: refreshing levels of CO2, a welcome underlying bitterness, plus a nice edge of tannins contrast with the weighty mélange of caramelized sugars and dried fruit. Those additional notes from the whiskey barrels (heated and spicy, toasted and charred) play well alongside everything else. Fathead’s hugely endearing—one of the most complex barrel-aged barley wines we’ve had in a while, with aromatics and flavors that just keep on going.
Bottle-conditioned and sturdy enough for extended cellaring—although delicious fresh. For us, that combination of caramel and ripe fruitiness calls for pairings involving roasted pork.
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