Brewer: Smog City Brewing Company
Location: Torrance, California
Brew: Bourbon O.E.
Style: Barleywine, Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine
There are some seriously amazing beers coming out of southern California at the moment, and the ones we’re referring to aren’t just from San Diego county. We’re talking about Los Angeles. Case in point: Smog City Brewing based out of Torrance. No offence to Smog City, but when we first looked at this beer we thought to ourselves, Torrance is not a place we think of when we think about amazing craft beer; but then, isn’t one of the most amazing things about craft beer the fact that it really doesn’t matter all that much where the beer comes from? Okay, some may argue otherwise, but in our experience, some of the most fantastic beers we’ve ever had have come from the most unexpected places.
So here we are … drinking a beer from Smog City as we write this, a beer that if it wasn’t for a good friend of ours that lives in the LA area, we wouldn’t be writing about. Why? Because we’re based in Idaho and many of the SoCal beers aren’t sold up here yet. But luckily the last few years, around the holidays, our friend sends us a beer care package that’s a mix of local LA area beers. One of those beers this year was Smog City’s Bourbon O.E. Barrel Aged Barleywine.
Our take? First off, the packaging is well done and screams quality. We appreciated the meticulous details that went into the label such as the stamped bottling date and ALC/VOL; plus, what appears to be a handwritten Bottle Number. Details like this set the tone before one even opens a bottle of beer and we could tell this was going to be something special.
Once opened we immediately loved the boozy bourbon aroma. And though the beer doesn’t appear very dark when poured it into a snifter, one taste and you’ll quickly realize that this is no session ale. In fact, the time that it took us to write up this review, is the amount of time it took us to drink this beer. Which based upon the fact that this editor’s typing skills are subpar, at best … well, you get the point. This is a bourbon barrel aged 14.1% ABV super-sipper that hints at notes of molasses, dates and/or figs. Okay, that probably sounded a bit snobby, especially because we can’t tell you the last time we had molasses, dates or figs—but nonetheless it sure sounded hoity–toity didn’t it?
We’ve said it before: we don’t get too deep into the subtle nuances of a beer. We either like it, like it a lot, or shrug out shoulders and say MEH. When it comes to Smog City Brewing’s Bourbon O.E., we say F&%#! yeah! Take that for what it’s worth. After all, we’re just an average joe that happens to geek out over beer. We have no qualms about straight-up giving this beer the green light to our best buds and enemies alike. Problem is, now we have to figure out a way to get Smog City to start exporting its beers to Idaho. Or maybe we just need to make a trip down to visit our friend and go on an LA microbrew tour.
LA people: check out Smog City Brewing!
Buzz: Quality packaging that’s backed up with a quality drinking experience. The two are parallel and we love beers that are more than a good bottle label. Kudos to Smog City for its commitment to a quality and an excellent product.
Buzzkill: It’s not distributed in Idaho! Otherwise we’d be seeing this beer in our refrigerator more often.