Review: Epic’s Smoked & Oaked Belgian Strong Ale

In the past month or two, one brewery is slowly rising up my list of favorites. That brewery is Epic Brewing from Salt Lake City, Utah. I’ve become familiar with their Sour Apple Saison and fell in love with their Big Bad Baptist Stout, and continue to try whatever I can get my hands on from Epic. So I was anxious to taste something from their Exponential Series, and finally did so this week. The basics of the series, from what I’ve read at least, is that it begins with one of their beers, but each batch in the series has something unique about it, and is bottled in limited supply.

As a collector of craft beer and also of vinyl records, I know what the term ‘limited’ means. It means buy it, and buy it now. I did just that when I saw a case of the Epic Smoked & Oaked on the shelves of my local bottle shop, especially after reading this on the label.

“You are holding something special, one of only 1,800 bottles released and numbered. Intrigued? Visit to explore this limited brews precise details.”

And of, course, I did just that, it turns out that my bottle, which is part of Release #5, has the following details attached.

Brewed on March 13, 2011. Packaged May 22, 2011.
(100% Colorado Whiskey Barrel Aged)
Release five has a lot of nice, warm bourbon flavors from the whisky cask aging. The entire batch dries out the perceived sweetness of the caramel malt leaving an almost scotch like taste, with smoke, bourbon, brandy, hints of vanilla, wood, aged fruit from the Belgian yeast and some peat.

The Malt
Weyermann Pilsner, Maris Otter Pale, Cherry Wood Smoked Malt, Caramel 60, Demerara Rough Cut Candy and Barley Flakes.

The Hops
Perle, Sterling and Tettnang.

9.9% ABV

Just the detail and limited availability I crave, but how did it actually taste? Well, it tasted brilliant. First off, let me say that I don’t care for smoked beers in general. I like my Texas BBQ smokey, not my beers. But the smoke was far from overwhelming on this brew, and was actually just faint enough that I hardly noticed it. I could taste the Colorodo Whisky Barrel influence though, and overall it hit my palate more like a barrel aged barleywine than the Belgian style it truly is.

More on the entire Smoked & Oaked Series here.

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