Last weekend, I volunteered at the Seacoast Winter Brew Fest (part of Portsmouth Craft Beer Week) and got a chance to talk to some beer-loving folks and sample a few interesting offerings.

One of the breweries that I got to cover while the pourer was on break was Sebago Brewing Company. They had two offerings for the fest – Full Throttle IPA and the Bourbon Barrel Aged Lake Trout Stout.

Now, the Lake Trout Stout is already a really nice and satisfying stout, with just a little bit of roasty character. It goes just as well with summer barbecue as it does with winter hearty meals, and I enjoy it when I see it.

Sebago-Bourbon-Barrel-Aged-Lake-Trout-StoutHowever, this special edition – the latest in the Single Batch Series – has had some special treatment. Sebago took some Lake Trout Stout, and then aged it in charred oak bourbon barrels. After four months of aging, they back blended it with fresh Lake Trout Stout. The result? Another impeccable blend.

Bourbon barrel aged beers have had a surge in popularly over the last two years, spurred, in part by beers like Kentucky Breakfast Stout from Founders and Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout. However, sometimes I find bourbon-barrel aged beers to be almost too sweet or too harsh to get through. Blending with fresh beer, however, helps to mellow this character, and the result is a much more refined beer.

The color is, obviously, very dark brown, and the nose has plenty of bourbon still left in it. But it’s the taste where all the magic happens.

Instead of a lingering sweetness or stab of hotness from the alcohol, this one is incredibly smooth. I happily poured out samples and watched people’s faces light up when they found out that it was a drinkable and delicious beer. It tastes slightly like oak and vanilla, but the bourbon meshes so well with the stout that you just get a sweet and lovely undertone adding to the already smooth stout.

Bourbon Barrel Aged Lake Trout Stout is a Single Batch Series Beer available for a limited time on draft and in 22oz bottles at all Sebago locations as well as better beer stores throughout New England.

I was really happy to get a taste of this before it came out officially. If you’re a little hesitant about barrel-aged beer because they can be overwhelming – give this one a try first. It’s very well done.