Tasted!: Cameron’s Whiskey Barrel

A while back, I mentioned that the months of April, May and June were going to be busy ones for me, resulting in decreased posting in this space. And I think that played out pretty much as predicted, although I feel I did better than expected (by me, at least) on the blogging front.

I mentioned several posts ago that the book Tim Webb and I have been working on is The World Atlas of Beer, and that task is finally, mecrifully nearing completion. It will be published next spring, but don’t worry too much about that right now. I’ll remind you closer to the date.

What the end of that bit of work does is free me to catch up on a bunch of tastings, beginning this week with a whack of new and nearly new (and, in one instance, old but new to Ontario) releases, the first of which comes from Oakville, Ontario’s Cameron’s Brewing Company.

The official name of this beer appears to be the rather unwieldy Cameron’s Oak Aged Series – American Whiskey barrel, and it is, as you might guess, a barrel-aged ale of 7.2% alcohol by volume.

Cameron’s is not a company known their full-bodied beers, so this makes me a bit nervous. After all, as much as I enjoy an occasional Cameron’s Auburn Ale — or at least I have in the past; some people have been telling me that it has changed in recent months, although that is only hearsay — it is not the kind of beer I would give the whiskey barrel treatment, especially not for the 120 days this has apparently spent in the wood. Still, the fact that the brewery hasn’t to date released any big beers doesn’t mean that can’t, so let’s see what’s under the cap.

That this purple-ish brown ale with its long-lasting collar of creamy foam was aged in whiskey oak is evident at the first sniff, as notes of vanilla, charred wood and dried fruit pervade the nostrils, allowing room for only a whisper of toffee-ish malt. The body begins smoky and whiskey-y, and continues very much in the same vein, adding raisiny notes, lots of vanilla and some tobacco leaf hoppiness, and remaining sweet throughout with caramel malt and some praline notes. The finish is very much whiskey-accented, more charcoal filtered Jack Daniels than Jim Beam, I think, and oddly sort of refreshing.

I was afraid at the outset that this might be too much barrel for the beer, but Cameron’s has found a nice balance here. It will no doubt be too whiskey-ish for some, and it does tread a very fine line in that regard, but if this is to be the start of a “Series,” as the name suggests, then it is a very promising one.

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