Firestone Walker is one of those rare brewers that pretty much can't miss on a brew, and they score another solid addition to their deep lineup with the Double DBA. It's the oak barrel-aged version of their silky, caramel malt-forward DBA with a far broader array of engaging flavors. The nose is an intriguing welcome, offering sweet caramel and this odd, possibly sour cherry or berry aroma, but it doesn't come remotely close to telling on this beer's fascinating profile.
The color doesn't give too much away, either. It's a dark amber, almost brown. Northdown Cafe poured it into a 10 oz., almost perfectly rounded snifter that prominently featured the two-finger light tan head, nearly white. With a mouthfeel just sought of moderate, it nipps at the palate with modest carbonation, but nothing crazy. The oak barreling softens this nicely, rounding it with a pleasant feel. DDBA's flavor is extremely complex and unusual. There's no up-front bite. All of the action is in back. I detected quite a bit of cherry and perhaps sour apple, and also toffee, caramel, and hint of licorice. You feel the surge the alcohol heat expected of any 12% beer. Here, no hops or roasted malts are present to fireproof that burn.
Every great beer has some kind of "bite" or "grab" on the palate, whether it's hops, bourbon, spice, grain, smoke, or rye. Rather than biting you with a natural additive, DDBA's hook is pure alcohol, singeing you with each sip. Many will find this beer overly sweet, and those who prefer their strong ales hoppy may be disappointed. Fans of Founders Curmudgeon's Better Half will find this as making inroads towards forging a rivalry. It is indeed quite good but falls short of that lofty level.
4.2 of 5 stars.