Verbatim: Harrington’s ‘Big John’ Special Reserve. Something relatively random that George apparently forgot he’d picked up somewhere along the way. It’s a strong dark ale, matured in Bourbon barrels. As you can see, it pours with quite enthusiastic bubbles, and they definitely hold a very strong whiskey nose. Almost disconcertingly so; it just smells like a big glass of that, rather than beer. But the taste is refreshingly beery, and very smooth. Nice maltiness, chocolate roastiness, and a bit of a caramelly kick — like a great big melted Toffee Pop. Soaked in whiskey.
Afterthoughts, November 2010: From memory, the ‘Special Reserve’ bit came from the fact this was actually Bourbon barrel aged; the regular stuff is Bourbon infused, methinks. And it’s another great example of how some beers are tricky to pick, in terms of their official style. The RateBeer.com nerds have the former as a Scotch Ale and the latter as a Dunkler Bock. If I had to put a sum of my own money on it (or, more to the point, if I had to tag a blogpost one way on the other), I’d think the Bock guess was right; the body and the finish seem more lagery than aley, but we’re in pretty stab-in-the-dark territory here, I’ll freely admit.