Rough Draft's Barrel-Aged Freudian Sip: Your Subconscious Will Love It

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Beer: Barrel-Aged Freudian Sip
Brewery: Rough Draft Brewing Co.
Style: American Strong Ale
ABV: 10 percent

Around 1901, Sigmund Freud came out with his book The Psychopathology of Everyday Life. In it, he described a number of verbal "slips" -- errors that seem trivial but may actually reveal repressed subconscious desires. Also called a parapraxis, this reptile-brain mixup later came to be known as the Freudian slip.

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As is my opinion on most psychoanalysis, I think the Freudian slip is just another made-up term psych majors use to justify their ridiculous degrees. There's no way my subconscious mind would ever cause me to accidentally insert a word where I wouldn't penis it to be.

A Freudian Sip, however, is something I can believe in.

Rough Draft Brewing Co. is a new entrant to the Arizona beer scene, but having opened in March 2012, it's also young in its home market of Mira Mesa, a suburb of San Diego. In a story that's becoming increasingly common, veteran home-brewer Jeff Silver gave up a cushy career in finance to pursue a dream of bringing beer to the masses. His approach to doing so, however, is slightly less familiar.

The name Rough Draft is not simple punnery -- all the beers put on draft at the brewery's tasting room are works in progress. Silver actively seeks out feedback from his customers in order to improve upon his brews, through websites, e-mail, and even -- shudder -- Yelp reviews. The beers that prove to be winners in the tasting room are the ones Rough Draft puts into distribution.

One of those winners was Freudian Sip, a strong, malty ale that fits, stylistically, somewhere between amber ale and barleywine. The barrel-aged version spent four months in wet bourbon barrels.

Poured into a snifter, the beer shifts in garnet hues with gem-like color and clarity. A dense pancake-batter head plops itself atop the brew and sticks around for the long haul.

A Freudian slip of the aroma replaces the usual beer scent with that of an Old-Fashioned cocktail. Barrel-aging is apparent, adding vanilla and maple-rich bourbon character to the base of caramel, toffee, dark cherry, and orange peel. A kick of alcohol heat keeps you from taking deep whiffs, but a layer of spicy, floral hops is also there to discover.

The flavor, interestingly, is almost like a good Manhattan. Caramelized sugar, oranges, and cherries replace the sweet vermouth; floral hops stand in for the bitters; bourbon acts like bourbon. Amid the almost creamy medium body, gentle pokes of carbonation are made up for by less-than-gentle pinpricks of Novocain numbness. The alcohol is more noticeable on the tongue than anywhere else -- and what would you expect with a beer that's 20 proof? The swallow brings a flash of bitter hops that takes the sweetness down a notch before a finish of sweet maple, vanilla, and bitter orange peel.

Barrel-aged Freudian Sip is a tasty brew, especially when allowed to warm to near room temperature. It displays a great balance of sweet and bitter, beer and barrel, and is a very impressive showing from a fairly new brewery. I can't wait to boobs it again.

Zach Fowle is a Certified Cicerone, an accredited guide to beer. He works at World of Beer in Tempe.

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