Every year I look forward to Smog releasing this gem, Barrel Aged OE. They always vary slightly and the cask blend presents something to anticipate. We used to hunt this back before Smog when it was at Tustin Brewing Co. This year was particularly special for me because it was bottled on the same day my son was born, a lil baby OE.
This is an amazingly balanced beer this year. This vintage presents such a great spirit platform and tight body lines that are stingy with the residual sugar that results in a blast of oolong tea, that spicy high rye content bourbon like 4R smble, grenache, and kalmatta olive brine. It’s far more complex than English confectionary treats and feels like a $17 pretentious cocktail served by a dude named Hyacinth with ice with no occlusions.
I usually joke that this is the Straight Jacket of socal but it feels like the nexus between Mother of All Storms and like Sebago. It remains california gold and Huell Howser would crash a golf cart into the grain silo. The dry tea and leather aspects mingle with the double helix of oak and internally you feel like the type of dude who has purchased a ballistic gel torso without everyone looking down on you for being an insecure dipshit.
This isn’t a novice Barleywine and there’s depth and nuance to it. If wheated bourbons are what you give your baby palate friend because he read about them in Condé Nast, then brown sugar bombs are the English caramel of the beer world. This has more articulated points than an expensive action figure. Like a friend who is super into competitive whipping, it’s dangerous but awe inspiring. Like how did you even get to this point.
The intensity and spiritphillic nature of this is a boat wave of sorts. Other beer drinkers know where your palate sits at as your outboard motor gurgles pure octane. When someone posts an intense mature cask bomb like this, they’re either in somber reverence or in that “hey is ordering a gram at 3:15am a good idea?” Either way there is power and negligence to the display.