Epic Brewing | 2021 Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout Variants Preview
For the previous 10 years, Epic Brewing of Utah and Colorado produces Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout, a stout aged in whiskey barrels with added cacao nibs and coffee. It is a delightful beer, the ingredient flavors are recognizable, and it is high in ABV at 11.7%. Since 2016, Epic Brewing each year produces variants with this year’s batch showing fulfilling and fun achievements.
To start, the just-released 2021 line-up features six variants: Naked Baptist, In The Rye, Black Forest Cake, Double Barrel, Double Jam and Chocolate Mint. All are available across retail partners across Colorado starting September 30 and customers are able to order online for pick up from September 30 – October 11.
“I am very proud of the brew team here. Everyone cares deeply about it,” says Regional Sales Manager Nate Levi. Every Tuesday, Levi says, the New Brand Committee comprised of owners, brewers, and a few other staff get together and propose new beers for the company.
In respect to this year’s Big Bad Baptist variants, 20 ideas for beers came from these Tuesday meetings that incorporate the owners, brewers and other employees. Of these 20 ideas, some are cut due to equipment requirements. At this point, the remaining ideas go for initial brew testing. Those that taste great and can be made on a larger scale, like this year’s six, move to production.
Originally, Big Bad Baptist ages in barrels for at least eight months. Barrels come from Rocky Mountain Barrel Company who can disperse barrels on an exact type if requested, like the In The Rye which is aged in rye barrels.
For 2021, each of the variants takes a subtle to dramatic transformation. Here is a description of each of this year’s variants, in order as to how Levi preferred one to try them if to do so in one sitting.
Original Big Bad Baptist | 11.7%
In tasting the series, it felt important to always go back to the original. It is fun and interesting to see how each variant stems from the base. If you are tasting the beer and variants at the taproom in Denver, you can get flights of four as well as get samples to taste.
Naked Baptist | 13.1% ABV
Now, Epic Brewing describes this as “brewer’s begging to bottle this for years.” I cannot say, I’m not sure what held the brewery back as this is phenomenal and my favorite of the variants. By subtracting the cacao and coffee, the taste is sweeter (my preference) and emphasizes the barrel taste more.
In The Rye | 12.4% ABV
For the first four variants, something significant but not too dramatic occurs. In this instance, rye barrels are used instead of whiskey barrels. Epic Brewing describes this change as adding “peppery notes.” True to its words, not only does In The Rye feel more peppery, but the taste is also sharper. Furthermore, the stout is now redder in color in comparison to the original.
Black Forest Cake
Now, the Black Forest Cake is fantastic as the taste of cherries is noticeable, yet subtle. The beer also maintains its thick stout texture as well as its original chocolate flavors. The fresh coconut adds a quiet sweetness to its flavor profile.
Double Barrel | 12.2% ABV
Yes, the Double Barrel does age through two barrels. In the first barrel, the beer ages in Blue Copper Coffee green Colombian Coffee Beans. In the second barrel, the beer goes into select “Baptist casks” to give it more bourbon flavor. The insides of the glass after a pour are incensing with coffee. Additionally, this tastes smoother and creamier in comparison to the original.
Double Jam | 11.6% ABV
In the first of two dramatic departures from the original, the aromatics of this beer are dominating with berry scents and flavors. However, the texture is thinner which makes it feel less like a stout, but still very fun in the fruity transformation.
Chocolate Mint | 12.9%
For the final beer in Epic Brewing’s 2021 Big Bad Baptist variants, the Chocolate Mint is very good. The natural mint used in brewing stands out nicely as it perfumes nicely but does not overwhelm the tongue. It is smooth, fresh, and has a real pleasant finish.