After reading about Cincinnati Rock Bottom’s great success at this year’s World Beer Cup, I got a chance to swing by a couple weeks ago to sample Mitch Dougherty’s gold medal winning Sarah’s Two-Headed Buffalo. The name of this beer comes from both the base beer, Buffalo Gold golden ale, and the Buffalo Trace barrels which it is aged in for four months.
Sarah’s Two-Headed Buffalo obviously impressed the World Beer Cup judges, but what did I think? Continue forth to find out.
Excuse the pictures. Rock Bottom’s bar area is pretty dimly lit and not particular conducive to taking well-detailed pictures, even after messing with my phone’s ISO settings and whatnot. Sarah’s Two-Headed Buffalo pours a tad darker than straw with a creamy white head that, as you can see above, leaves a good amount of lacing.
The barrel treatment definitely dominates the smell, with characteristics of vanilla, bourbon (of course), and a tiny bit of oak. It smells sweet and the taste definitely reflects that. The bourbon barrel doesn’t come out nearly as much in the taste as the nose, though it does become a little more pronounced (as does the ABV) as the beer warms. The barrel aging of this style is pretty interesting as the bright fruitiness of the golden ale, even at 12%, counters the heaviness of the barrel characteristics. Flavorwise, it reminds me a lot of the barrel aged tripels I have tried in the past, minus the Belgian yeast flavors, of course. Carbonation is much more lively than I’m used to in a barrel-aged beer, though I suppose that makes sense considering that most barrel-aged beers I have experience with are lower carbonation level beers like stouts and barley wines. The body is remarkably light for 12%.
Overall, a unique, quaffable offering from Rock Bottom. Mitch is doing a great job with his barrel program, as can be seen by the awards he’s been regularly winning. I didn’t think that Sarah’s Two-Headed Buffalo was an amazing beer, but I thought it was a pretty darn good one. I’d like to see more bourbon in the taste and perhaps a little less carbonation (Mitch: put some of this in a cask!), but overall I would say that this is very welcome in the Cincinnati beer scene.
The worst thing about this beer?