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Victory Red

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In the dim and distant days of 2012, Victory did a Q&A culled from comments and emails. One asked about sour beers, and the ultimate response was this:

I can tell you that Victory has begun the process of making a sour beer. But we will not release just any sour beer. We are doing small-scale experimentation so that when we do have a sour beer for you, it will be a beautifully balanced, refreshing Flemish-style sour beer. Unfortunately, we are years away from a final product, because once we figure out how to do it, a commercial size batch will be produced and could take more than three years to be ready to blend with younger sour beer.

Cut to four years later, and Victory quietly releases Red, a Flemish-style red beer. Well, they did say it could take more than three years, and indeed, Red is comprised of beer aged in oak barrels for three years and blended with younger beer. It wasn't a big event like the Java Cask releases, but I'm quite happy I grabbed a bottle of this:

Victory Red

Victory Red - Pours a brilliant, clear golden amber color with a finger of white head. Smells fabulous, tons of oak, vinegar, tart fruit, sour cherries, and the like. Taste follows the nose, is also fabulous, lots and lots of oak, a little tart fruit and vinegar, light on the sourness which is balanced by the oak. Mouthfeel is perfect, medium to full bodied, rich, light acidity. Overall, I tend to like my Flanders style beers oaky, and this one really pulled that off. It's wonderful. A

Beer Nerd Details: 5.5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a charente glass on 1/21/17. Bottled on 18 Nov 2016. Released on 15 Dec 2016.

Always nice to see Victory continuing to expand their horizons, and I look forward to seeing what they do next with this sort of thing. If you're local, you may still be able to snag a bottle of this (even though it was released in late December), well worth the effort.

Presumably because my limited sorties into Vermont have all occurred in summer months, most of my acquisitions have been IPAs or Saisons. Obviously the hop fetish is a year round thing (that isn't particularly limited to VT either), but it seems that the colder months of the year are accompanied with some bigger, heavier, darker beers. Aside from Hill Farmstead's Everett (of things labeled "porter", I'd probably put this at the top of the list) and their Society & Solitude #2 (another contender for best in style, this time the waning Black IPA), my exposure has been limited. Until now!

Lawson's Finest Liquids makes a big, burly imperial stout using almost two gallons of VT maple syrup per barrel. This base beer has been given a variety of barrel-aged treatments, and what we have here is the Apple Brandy variant (no provenance on this bottle, though previous releases have specified Lairds or the more local Mad River Malvados). The base is presumably named after the town of Fayston, VT, itself honoring the Fays, a family that figured prominently in the founding of VT. The label sez this beer is "Made for sub-zero nights and pairing with decadent desserts." Well, it was around 19°F when I drank this, so that will have to do (though, come to think of it, that does translate to -7°C, so take that, pedants!)

Lawsons Finest Liquids Apple Brandy Barrel Aged Fayston Maple Imperial Stout

Lawson's Finest Liquids Apple Brandy Barrel Aged Fayston Maple Imperial Stout - Pours black with a half finger of brown head. Smells of roasted malt, vanilla, oak, and maple syrup. Taste hits some rich caramel notes up front, leavened with roast in the middle, oak and vanilla, hints of booze (not bourbon, but not really recognizably Apple Brandy either), maple syrup and roast finish. As it warms, it gets a little sweeter and the maple comes out more. The brandy emerges more too, though I'm still not getting any specific apple notes. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, low to moderate carbonation (appropriate for the style), a bit of booze. Overall, this is fantastic! A

Beer Nerd Details: 11.1% ABV bottled (375 ml). Drank out of a snifter on 1/7/17. Bottled November 2016.

This was a Christmas present from an awesome person, so thanks Adam! Lawson's Finest Liquids continues to impress, so I will most certainly be seeking out more from them, hopefully sooner than later...

Firestone XX

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Alright folks, you know the drill: Blah blah blah, blended, barrel-aged, Voltron-esque super beer. Blah blah blah, collaboration with local wineries. Blah blah blah, delicious. We've covered each edition of this beer since XV, so while there's lots to be said about the process here, I've pretty much already wonked out on everything worth wonking out over.

Each installment in this series of Anniversary blends varies considerably. Some veer towards the Barleywine components, like XV and XVII, others hew closer to the dark side, like XVIII and XIX. XVI went for more balance between those two poles (as a result, it might be my least favorite, actually). So what does the XX blend look like?

  • 40% Parabola (13% ABV) Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout. Aged in New Oak and Bourbon Barrels.
  • 20% Stickee Monkee (12.3% ABV) English Barley Wine. Aged in Bourbon and Brandy barrels.
  • 17.5% Velvet Merkin (8.5% ABV) Traditional Oatmeal Stout. Aged in Bourbon barrels.
  • 12.5% Bravo (12.9% ABV) Imperial Brown Ale. Aged in Bourbon Barrels.
  • 10% Helldorado (13.5% ABV) Blonde Barley Wine. Aged in Bourbon Barrels.

So this is one of the more stout-like blends out there, with 70% hitting the dark side of the force. In any case, any blend consisting of 40% Parabola has to be pretty good, right? Let's take a closer look:

Firestone Walker XX Anniversary Ale

Firestone Walker XX Anniversary Ale - Pours a very dark brown color with half a finger of light tan head. Smells beautiful, rich caramel, vanilla, oak, boozy bourbon, hints of roast and chocolate. Taste hits those rich caramelized malt notes hard, hints of roast, plenty of bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Mouthfeel is full bodied but nimble, not a beast like most imperial stouts of this ABV, well carbonated, a little pleasant booze in the finish. It feels like the barleywineish components of this blend have lightened the body and hidden the booze a little more than normal for a beer this big, a neat little trick. Overall, yes, it's another winner for the Anniversary blends! A

Beer Nerd Details: 13% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/20/16.

There's just no stopping Firestone Walker's barrel program. I look forward to this release every year, and it has never disappointed. Indeed, pretty much any of their barrel-aged, boxed beers are fabulous and I'm always on the lookout. Lately, more of their wild ales have been showing up in the Philly area, like Agrestic and Lil Opal, so here's to hoping for more of that in the future too.

Allagash FV 13

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In 2008, Allagash acquired a 2,700-gallon oak foudre and filled 'er up. For the uninitiated, the FV in the name stands for Fermentation Vessel and though you might think this was their 13th such vessel, it actually wasn't. They had a whole fleet of stainless steel fermenters and, being superstitious, they decided to skip the number 13. Apparently they managed to get over their Triskaidekaphobia before setting up their foudre.

As befits their first foray into this type of aging, they went through quite a labor intensive process. Primary fermentation happened in one of the lucky stainless fermenters with Allagash's house yeast strain, then moved to the unlucky foudre along with two strains of Brett, souring bugs (lactobacillus and pediococcus), Sherry yeast, and Allagash's reserve yeast. Then they waited four years before bottling. Sadly, I missed out on that 2012 vintage, but it's been another four years, another batch has been dispensed, and this time Kaedrin's beer acquisition department was ready to pounce.

What's different this time? Well, it seems that instead of just distributing the entire 2,700 gallons back in 2012, they kept some in reserve and used it to inoculate the next batch. Due to this sorta solera-like approach, each batch will be different (and we'll have to wait 4 years between batches). If this batch is any indication, I don't think 13 is as unlucky a previously thought:

Allagash FV 13

Allagash FV 13 - Pours a orange hued golden color with half a finger of white head. Smells quite nice, musty funk, vinous fruit, dark fruit, cherries. Taste hits those notes, lots of fruit notes, cherries, vinous fruit, estery, mild funk, plenty of oak, a nice acetic sour bite, quite balanced. It has a sorta oxidized sherry note to it that is quite nice. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, moderate to high but still pleasant acidity. Complex and very well balanced. Overall, something about Allagash's sour program hits my palate just right, I guess. A

Beer Nerd Details: 8.8% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a flute glass on 10/23/16. Bottled: May 5, 2016.

As per usual, Allagash is killing it with these sours. As mentioned above, something about these things just clicks with me. One of these days, I really want to seek out some of their Coolship beers (i.e. spontanously fermented beers). Until then, I'm glad Kaedrin's beer acquisition department has been keeping tabs on these things...

Other Half Quadruple Feature

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Time to check in with our friends up north. Other Half opened in 2014, but only started canning in February of this year. They built their reputation almost entirely on word of mouth, and that word is "excellent", so can releases tend to be pretty crowded affairs. Such is the way of Northeast IPA brewers, I guess. Fortunately, cans have been finding their way into my possession often enough to know that their hype is at least partially deserved. Will I be driving up to Brooklyn and waiting in line anytime soon? Probably not. But I know some people who do, and for that, I am grateful. Here are the four latest brews I've had from these folks, two single hop beers, a duo, and one of their staple triple IPAs.

Other Half Double Dry Hopped Double Mosaic Dream

Other Half Double Dry Hopped Double Mosaic Dream - Similar to regular Double Mosaic Dream, but with moar dry-hopping - Pours a hazy yellow gold color with a finger of white head, decent retention, and a little lacing. Smells great, tropical fruit, citrus hops, a little dank pine. Taste follows the nose, huge amounts of tropical fruit and citrus, mangoes, pineapples, and whatnot, sweet up front with a well balanced bitter note in the finish. Mouthfeel is perfect, well carbonated, tight, medium bodied. Overall, delicious. Not sure how different it is from the non double dry hopped version, but it's still exceptional! A

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/8/16. Canned 9/23/2016. Batch: Violently Hoppy.

Other Half Amarillo IPA

Other Half Amarillo IPA - I love Amarillo, but have found it to be a poor choice as a bittering hop, so single-hop beers like this tend to suffer a bit because of that. - Pours a cloudy, dark yellow gold, almost brown, with a finger of white head. Smells very nice, sweet with lots of citrus hops. Taste starts off sweet with lots of citrus hop flavor, maybe a bit of pine, finishing with a sharp, astringent bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, crisp, and relatively dry. Overall this is rock solid stuff, one of the better Amarillo Single Hop beers around, but it still can't quite overcome Amarillo's sharp bittering character... B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a charente glass on 10/9/16. Canned: 9/23/16. Batch: Pretty Daddy.

Other Half All Green Everything

Other Half All Green Everything - A triple IPA brewed with Motueka, Amarillo, Citra and Mosaic hops, this one certainly doesn't fall into the "Isn't this just a hoppy barleywine" trap that many TIPAs are susceptible to, even if it doesn't quite reach the top of that mountain. - Pours a mostly clear, dark, golden orange color with a finger of white head. Smells nice, sweet citrus and pine, with some floral, grassy notes too. Taste has a big malt backbone, hits a more dank piney aspect than the nose, but plenty of citrus, finishing with a well balanced and soft bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, well carbonated, but with a fair amount of boozy heat. A very good beer, but a little disappointing given its reputation. On the upper end of B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a teku glass on 10/9/16. Canned: 9/22/2016. Batch: Best Coast.

Other Half Simcoe + Wai-Iti

Other Half Simcoe + Wai-Iti - I think this might have been my first Wai-Iti hopped beer ever, though it turns out that two of those Veil beers I recently posted about also had them. It certainly has that New Zealand flare to it and works well enough for me, though I'd like to try more. This combo with Simcoe worked out quite nicely. - Pours a pale, almost clear yellow color with a finger of head and great retention. Smells great, sweet, candied citrus and pine hops, nice and dank, as Simcoe is wont to be. Taste has more Wai-Iti hop influence, much more tropical than your typical Simcoe, though you get a bit of that Simcoe dankness, and a good sweetness/bitterness balance. Mouthfeel is perfect, light to medium bodied, well carbonated, dangerously quaffable. Overall, this is awesome. A

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/14/16. Canned: 9/22/2016. Batch: Yeast Coast.

Phew, I think that's enough IPA reviews for the time being (only 8 over the course of two posts!). No more Other Half in the immediate pipeline, but you will almost certainly be hearing about them again soon. Indeed, I hope to perhaps try something that's not an IPA at some point...

Tired Hands Bottle & Can Directory

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The other day, someone posted a thread on Facebook asking folks to post their top two breweries with the highest count of unique beers tasted (Untappd helps keep track of this sort of thing). For me, number two was Victory with 60 different brews.

Not too shabby, but regular readers (all 3 of you) who remember my epic recaps of hundreds of Tired Hands beers might guess that brewery would place number one. And they'd be correct! How correct? Oh, you know, something to the tune of 356 different beers. That's all. Ok, fine, before you start preparations for my intervention, there are a few mitigating factors. One is that, according to Untappd, there are 975 different Tired Hands beers (Beer Advocate only lists 769 beers though). So I haven't even had half of them! Second, the grand majority of these have been 4 or 8 ounce pours, with the occasional bottle and very rare pint (i.e. there were times where I've visited and had the equivalent of two pints, but that's 8 beers in 4 ounce increments). Finally, this is over the course of three years and while I used to pop over to Tired Hands every week, I've slowed my roll considerably of late.

Anywho, I've mostly given up on writing up notes when I visit, but I do tend to take note of their bottled offerings, so I'll probably continue posting these roundups from time to time, even if they're nowhere near as comprehensive as they once were. I've also managed to snag some cans from time to time, but they're generally released on Wednesdays at 4 pm or 5 pm and I have this thing called a job that prevents me from waiting in line for a few hours. I know, priorities, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Some of these are more detailed tasting notes, and others are more general observations, so take them with the appropriate mountain of salt.

Tired Hands Only Void Single-Origin Awake Minds Ethiopian Coffee

Tired Hands Only Void (Single-Origin Awake Minds Ethiopian Coffee) - Cold conditioned on heavy amounts of Awake Minds Ethiopian coffee from ReAnimator Coffee - I feel like people slept on this release, as I just kinda walked up an hour after the release had started and snagged a couple four packs. You all know I'm not a big coffee person and while this doesn't exactly change my mind, it was a superb example of the style. Tons of roast and coffee, rich, intense but incredibly well balanced. Not sure how these cans are drinking now (released in April), but worth looking out for the next release. Since I didn't take formal notes and it's been several months, I'll refrain from rating, but I figured it was worth mentioning.

Tired Hands Living With Ourselves As We Are

Tired Hands Living With Ourselves As We Are - French oak fermented wheat Saison conditioned on heaps of Meyer lemon purée - Pours a very pale straw yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells of tart fruit, those lemons coming through here, but a nice dollop of funk and oak pairs well. Taste has a nice sweet backbone, plenty of tart fruit, again with the lemons, but maybe some other fruity notes making themselves known (vinous fruit?) and plenty of oak, finishing on those sour lemons. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, moderately sour, quite well balanced. Overall, this is very nice, one of the better bottles of the year... A-

Beer Nerd Details: ??% ABV bottle (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 7/16/16.

Tired Hands Rustic Pentagram

Tired Hands Rustic Pentagram - Sour Mango Saison. Brewed with Wheat. Hopped with Amarillo. Fermented in one of our large French oak foudres. Conditioned atop freshly made mango purée. - Had this at the Fermentaria anniversary and loved it, but it's even better out of the bottle. Pours a very pale, almost radiant yellow color, only slightly hazy, with a finger of white head that leaves some lacing. Smells amazing, a beautiful funk character mixed with a well balanced mango aroma and some oak playing go-between. Taste is sweet up front, with those mangos coming through strong, almost immediately followed by a big sour bite, then comes something a little more earthy, funky, almost cheesy and gueuze-like, and a well balanced oaky streak ties the whole thing together, finishing with another sour bite. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, moderate to high acidity, but very well balanced. Overall, this is spectacular, best TH bottle in a while. A

Beer Nerd Details: 6.9% ABV bottle (750 ml). Drank out of a wine glass on 7/29/16.

Tired Hands Pineal
(Click to Embiggen)

Pineal - Have had this a few times on tap, one of Tired Hands' first recurring IPAs (and by recurring, it's like, once a year for the first two years? Though more often since they've started canning), it's always struck me as a pretty standard Tired Hands IPA. Fantastic, especially when compared to most other breweries, but not quite top tier TH single IPA. In the can? It's cloudier and juicier, I rather like it better. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of the can, like a man, on 7/31/16.

Tired hands Milkshake IPA
(Click to Embiggen)

Tired Hands Milkshake IPA - I went over the origins of this before in discussing the Northeast IPA, basically an IPA brewed with lactose, wheat flour, and strawberries - Pours a turbid, chicken broth looking pale yellow color with a finger of white head (I poured some out to see, but drank most out of the can). Smells great, huge wafts of juicy citrus, pineapple, orange, vanilla. Taste hits those big juicy citrus notes hard, lactose sweetness, mild bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is full bodied, thick, and chewy, well carbonated, did I mention thick? Overall, surprisingly enough, this is absolutely delicious. A

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of the can, like a man, on 7/30/16.

Tired Hands Believers Club Bottle 1

Tired Hands Believer's Club Bottle 1 - Fermented and conditioned with our magickal Saison yeast in French oak barrels. It was conditioned atop a copious amount of mango at a rate of one and a half pounds per gallon of beer and then dry hopped with Mosaic. - Pours a slightly hazy but still radiant straw yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells great, lots of musty funk, stone fruit, mangos, oak. Taste is sweet and tart up front, some of that mango showing itself, followed by some earthy notes and oak, finishing on that sour mango swerve. Mouthfeel is medium to light bodied, a tad lower on carbonation, moderate acidity, all very well balanced. Overall, this is fabulous, very, very similar to Rustic Pentagram and I could see it growing more complex over time too. We're splitting hairs here, so let's just go A- for now, though I'm guessing it will continue to evolve over time.

Beer Nerd Details: ??% ABV bottle (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 9/2/16.

Tired Hands ROOMARAK

Tired Hands ROOMARAK - Saison brewed with local Deer Creek Malthouse barley and wheat, fermented and aged in a Vin Santo foudre with a ton of Merlot grapes from local Karamoor Winery - Pours a striking reddish orange color, robey tones, very little head that doesn't stick around at all. Smells very nice, musty funk, vinous fruit, oak. Taste hits that vinous fruit character hard, apparently that Merlot making itself known, even getting some wine tannin here, a little oak, finishing with a sour bite. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, only mildly acidic. Overall, an interesting wine/beer hybrid and a tasty beer. B+ or A-

Beer Nerd Details: ??% ABV bottle (750 ml). Drank out of a wine glass on 9/3/16.

Phew, I think that's enough for now. Next up on the Tired Hands bottle front: Parageuisia 6 and 7 are being released this Sunday. If you are in the area, it's worth trying to snag a bottle, they're wonderful.

Other Half Double Feature

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One feature most of these newfangled Northeast IPA brewers have is that they make, like, a hojillion different varieties of IPA. To all the normals out there, this must seem baffling in the extreme. How different can all these IPAs be? Us abnormal hop-sniffing degenerates know what's up though, and these two cans of Other Half that recently found their way to Kaedrin HQ are a pretty good example of distinction.

By all appearances, they're similar DIPAs with the major difference being the hops used. One a trendy Mosaic hopped beer, the other using more traditional Segal Ranch high-oil Cascades, but they come off very different. I mean, not night-and-day, but maybe night and twilight or something. No, I don't like this metaphor anymore. It's hacky and cliched. I'm the worst. Let's just look closer:

Other Half Double Mosaic Dream

Other Half Double Mosaic Dream - First, that is one gorgeous label, eh? Pours a hazy straw yellow color with a finger of fluffy white head that leaves some lacing as I drink. Smells great, huge waft of tropical fruit, some resinous pine lurking in the background, sweet candied notes tying it together. Tastes delicious, sweet with that juicy tropical fruit up front, hints of pine in the middle, finishing with just enough bitterness to balance things out (definitely on the sweeter side of the IPA realm, but not at all cloying). Mouthfeel is medium bodied, finely carbed, and very well balanced. Overall, yeah, this is the stuff. Sometimes I feel like Mosaic is overrated, and people do tend to go a little too crazy of these hops, but beers like this show why pretty well. Best Other Half I've had yet. A

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/22/16. Canned 7/15/16. Batch: Double Downer.

Other Half Magic Green Nuggets

Other Half Magic Green Nuggets - Another nice label, though sometimes the hops on the label look like... broccoli? Anywho, pours a clearer, darker, more golden yellow color with finger of fluffy white head, similar lacing. Smells a little more subdued, sweeter but with a lesser citrus and pine quality. Taste is very sweet, but with a cleaner, more earthy, floral character in addition to the typical, old-school citrus and pine, a hint of booze in the finish. In general, a little more dank than the Mosaic, not really juicy. Mouthfeel is bigger and heavier, but still nice, well carbed, a little more out of whack and boozy, but still quite well crafted. Overall, this is decent, but it reminds me of something more older school. Victory's Ranch S (i.e. another single hopped DIPA with Segal Ranch Cascades) comes to mind, though this is just as good if not better. Indeed, this feels like there might even have been a different yeast in use (producing a cleaner, clearer beer, similar in many ways to the type of stuff Victory produces). Tasty double IPA, well worth trying, but there are easier to acquire analogs out there. B+*

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/22/16. Canned 7/15/16. Batch: Kazaam!

Many thanks to fellow BeerNerd Sheik for making the long trip to Brooklyn and waiting in line for these beauties. Other Half is clearly the real deal and if I didn't have Tired Hands in my backyard, I'd probably be seeking this sort of thing out more often. As it is, I'm still going out of my way to snag their stuff, so there is that. You will no doubt hear more about them soon.

* But you rated Victory's Ranch S an A-!? Two answers to this: 1. Grade inflation is real and b) I'm the worst. This has been established.

One of the most famous white whales in the beer nerd world is Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout. Released in 2010, this sucker took the base Bourbon County beer and aged it in 23 year old Pappy Van Winkle barrels for two years. At the time, neither bourbon nor beer were as crazy as they are now, so these expensive bottles were actually on shelves for a bit before their reputation caught up with them. It is arguably considered the best stout ever made. Despite being called "Rare", there were quite a few of these bottles (the name is more about the aging process than the bottle count), so they became one of the most valuable commodities on trading boards. I have, alas, never gotten a taste of that original bottling of Rare, but Goose Island has gigantic balls and went ahead and slapped that label on another beer last year.

Now, living up to that reputation has to be excruciating, but Goose came up with an interesting successor at the least. Heaven Hill found a group of bourbon barrels in their warehouse that had been aging for 35 years*. For the uninitiated, bourbon is never aged that long. I won't get into details, but apparently it's possible for bourbon to get over-oaked and nearly undrinkable because of that. It didn't make sense to me either, but then I drank some over-oaked 20 year old bourbon this one time and now I get it. I'd also guess that 35 years of the Angel's Share would really knock down what's left in that barrel (for reference, the 16 year old Stagg lost 84% of its volume to evaporation, so imagine what happens over 35 years). As a result, the bourbon was never released (at least, not to the public), but Goose Island thought it might make for a nice heir to Rare. So they got their hands on these 35 year old barrels and filled them with Bourbon County base beer, aging them for two years (regular Bourbon county is aged for around 8-12 months). Then they went all out on the packaging (you guys, even the oak box this thing comes in smells fantastic) and sold these things for $60 a pop during last year's November release. Once again, there were a fair amount of these guys out there, but spread out across Goose's now very large distribution footprint. Also, beer dorks are a few orders of magnitude more obsessive these days, so the one place I knew was getting some in the Philly area had people lining up early on Thanksgiving night for the Black Friday release.

It was something I didn't expect to get ahold of easily, and indeed, it's trading pretty well these days and the secondary market is pretty bullish too. Enter local chain of beer establishments, The Pour House. For their third anniversary last Thursday, they broke out a case of Rare and would sell them for $85. It was unannounced too, so the crowds were bearable. This is indeed quite pricey, but we got a free glass out of the deal, it's a fair and typical bar-level increase on the $60 sticker price, far below the secondary market value, and when you split it across 5 people, it's pretty reasonable. And oh my, was it worth it.

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout Rare 2015
(Click to Embiggen)

Goose Island Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout (2015) - Yep, it looks like any of the other Bourbon Counties, black as night, minimal head, but if you swirl it around you can rustle some up. Smells amazing, huge wafts of caramel, vanilla, oak, and boozy bourbon. Only had a few ounces, so I made it last and just kept sniffing for a long time. Taste is like Bourbon County, only moreso. Sweet with caramel and vanilla, leavened by tons of oak and boozy bourbon. It's certainly hot and boozy, but I'm told it has mellowed a bit since the release (in November). Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, almost velvety, but very intense. Lots of boozy heat, might turn off some baby palates, but I'm totally into it and the base clearly stands up to the bourbon creating a harmonious middle ground. Obviously a sipping beer, but a glorious sipper. Overall, I hate to buy into the hype, but this was phenomenal. A

Beer Nerd Details: 14.8% ABV bottled (500 ml capped and boxed, 3-4 ounce pour). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/9/16.

It was a great event, and I didn't even mention the best part. Everyone who came got entered into a free raffle, and guess who won? Yep, I'm a lucky SOB and now the proud owner of a bottle of my own. I will, naturally, have to share this with some friends at some point, but I'm quite happy to be in such a position!

* The marketing line here is that they "discovered" these "lost" barrels, which is just the latest in a long line of bourbons that have used this excuse to jack up prices lately. Either these distilleries are just blowing smoke or they have completely incompetent inventory management practices. In this case, at least, the bourbon wasn't released, indicating that maybe they really were lost, but still.

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