It was another lovely beer-soaked weekend at the 24th annual Okanagan Fest of Ale on April 12 and 13 with a record 75 breweries and cideries participating in the event, pouring more than 225 craft beers and ciders. Somehow I made it home with my pants still on, so I’ll chalk it up as a win.
I was lucky enough to be on the judging panel for the festival, selflessly sacrificing my sobriety in order to sample more than 55 different beers to help whittle down the field to the eventual winners.
So this week I thought I’d highlight one of the winning beers, which happened to be from the Okanagan’s own BNA Brewing. BNA’s Tennessee Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Milk Stout won for Best Stout/Porter at the festival, and for good reason. This rich, luxurious milk stout is a boozy beast of a beer. Bourbon and oak notes dominate, supported by dark fruit and molasses malt character. The sweetness of the lactose (AKA milk sugar, which is what makes a milk stout a milk stout) is apparent but not cloying, balanced somewhat by the astringency of the oak.
There is perhaps a touch too much alcoholic warmth and tannic notes at the moment, but this is a beer that’s made to be cellared. I have no doubt that in a year-or-two’s time, the edges will be smoothed out and this beer will really shine. Assuming you have the self-restraint not to drink it all right away.
Tennessee Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Milk Stout by BNA Brewing
8.2% ABV • 500 mL bottles
Appearance: Black with ruby brown highlights and a persistent light brown head.
Aroma: Bourbon, molasses, oak, dark fruit, vanilla.
Flavour: Bourbon, oak, vanilla, molasses, dark fruit, roasted barley, toast, lactose sweetness, some alcoholic warmth, quite tannic.
Body/finish: Full bodied with a lingering sweet finish.
Pairs with: Pecan pie, oatmeal cookies and overalls (pro tip: they’re harder to lose).