From BrewChief, Via Mikkeller, to You
A Review of From Via to (Bourbon Barrel Aged) by Mikkeller
Posted on 4/16/2012 by Chops
In today's craft beer world, everything matters. The beer name matters. The container matters. Even the label matters. Beer labels are perhaps the most important tool in promoting a no-name beer. They need to be colorful, provocative, intriguing, whatever it takes to catch the eye of a prospective beer fan. This is one of the many reasons why Mikkeller is so well known on the beer store shelves. I'm by no means saying that Mikkeller is a no-name brand, just that you can instantly pick out his brews based on artwork alone. So going into Mikkeller 's From Via To X-Mas Porter (Bourbon Barrel Aged), I wasn't quite sure what to expect based on the label. The ''From'' and ''To'' areas come with a blank line where you can fill in names. The ''Via'' is set to Mikkeller in that all too familiar font stamp. An additional heart-shaped pendant reads ''Holiday Ale brewed with spices and aged in bourbon barrels.'' Based on this presentation and based on what I know about Mikkeller brews, I was in a total brain lock. Was Mikkeller offering us a delectable holiday treat? Were the lines for genuine thanks or future evidence? Is this just a ruse to lure us into another black hole of brewing madness? I haven't a clue. And in the Mikkeller world, there is only one way to find out. Someone hand me the bottle opener...

In the glass, this beer has a stark black appearance with absolutely no edging coloration. It comes with a creamy tan head that quickly turns rocky. It also has a very long retention. As a matter of fact, I ended up having to chew my way through it for the first sip. On the nose, you get nothing but bourbon. Pure, unadulterated bourbon. You can spend as much time as you like looking for other aroma notes, but you're not going to find any. Bourbon. That's it. So going into that first sip, you might say I was a bit intimidated. I was expecting a bourbon bashed porter with very few beer-like traits left.

Much to my surprise, the bourbon flavor was actually well balanced with the other notes. It fell back into a more tolerably sweet role rather than a pungent alcohol burn. This allowed other flavor notes to emerge and establish themselves. I found a mild roasted malt resting underneath everything as a soft base. The spice notes freely play in the mix and provide a tangy quality to the beer that nicely compliments the sweetness of the bourbon. From there I was able to pick out hints of vanilla and a few woody notes, mainly oak. Granted, bourbon accounts for at least half of the flavor, but it was mild enough to allow others to flourish. The finish is very dry and leaves only a whiff of bourbon as an aftertaste.

Overall, Mikkeller 's From Via To X-Mas Porter (Bourbon Barrel Aged) is a really nice beer, but is highly specialized. To be honest, this is a beer for bourbon drinkers. But to be fair, beer fans can easily drink it. So when it comes time to recommend it, I can't direct it to any specific camp. This is just one of those beers that will find its appeal on a case-by-case basis. You may like it, you may not, and there's no way to predict if you will. I personally enjoyed the beer and I'm not a big fan of liquors. That alone is a testament as to how well balanced and drinkable the beer is. Therefore, my recommendation would be to pick one up if you see it and go into it with an open mind. If you want, you can even write my name on the ''From'' line.

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From Via To (Bourbon Barrel Aged) by Mikkeller
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