A couple big updates on Brophy's Barrel.   First, I pulled the Founder's Curmudgeon out and tasted it side by side with fresh Curmudgeon on tap at the South Loop Tasting Room.   Fresh off the tap, the Curmudgeon is great stuff. Full of bready malts on the nose, sweet cereal grains on the palate balanced by a nice bitterness. After spending a week and a half in barrel, the beer has gained a slightly ruby hue. On the nose it's a little rubbery, with hints of burnt sugar. There is a faint suggestion of rum on the palate, flavors the barrel passed on from the Lemon Hart 151 that was in the barrel before - more burnt sugar than true rum flavor. It seems to have lost some body.   Overall, I think this barrel may be heading into retirement. It's been through about six aging cycles, and seems to be more of a "neutral oak" vessel than anything else right now. But before I set it out to pasture forever, I'm going to test this theory by filling it with vodka. If it really is neutral, it shouldn't affect the vodka more than some flavors from the Curmudgeon. We'll see soon!   Bonus Barrel after the jump...     BONUS BARREL   Remember, with this one I used a Cedar Ridge Age Your Own Whiskey Kit and actually followed the instructions. This  bourbon turned out AWESOME! Corn and anise on the nose. Huge vanilla dominates the palate with underlying cherry. It finishes long and sweet. The only bad part: a fair amount of the whiskey was lost to evaporation. Still, this kit is well worth your time, and is a great first project if you're interesting in spirits. Just check out this gorgeous bourbon:  

  What's next for the Cedar Ridge barrel? About a year and a half ago, I brewed a batch of barleywine. A massive 13.14% ABV, 101 IBU American barleywine with Champagne yeast for bottle conditioning. It has one fatal flaw: after a year and a half in the bottle, it still hasn't carbonated. We'll see how it is after some time in barrel.