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Collaborating for a Cause | Cerebral Brewing

Cerebral Brewing Celestial Origin & Monsters of the Night Sky
Eric Griffin

For this week’s installment of Collaborating for a Cause, we head to one of the Mountain states for the first time in this series. Cerebral Brewing, based out of Denver, Colorado, was quick to show their support for Alex Kidd, the person behind Don’t Drink Beer, and his family following his devastating cancer diagnosis. For Cerebral’s fundraiser, they re-released two high-gravity beers, donating 100% of proceeds from all bottles and draft pour sales to the Kidd family GoFundMe.

The Cerebral Cause

Cerebral, an award-winning neighborhood brewery, originally opened in 2015. The brainchild of co-founders Sean Buchan and Dan McGuire, Cerebral takes a a scientific approach to beer, with their methodologies supported through a notably artistic viewpoint.

In addition to its original Congress Park location, the Cerebral team also hosts a pop-up taproom in the Aurora Arts District, where they feature a draft list of both year-round and limited release beers, plus merchandise and to-go beer. This brewery’s approach has understandably led to a wide array of styles in their portfolio, but some of their favorites include Foeder lagers, IPAs (from Hazy to West Coast and anything in between), as well as the products of their ever-growing barrel program. Cerebral’s team strives for balance and nuance to make all of their beers drinkable. Learn more about past Cerebral releases PorchDrinking.com has featured!

Cerebral’s philosophy of brewing is reflected in its team’s values. While experimentation, iteration and exploration are all key aspects of their ethos, evolution embodies what they strive for. On a grander scale, when discussing the evolution of the industry as a whole, arguably one of the most prominent voices in helping to shape and evolve craft beer has been Alex Kidd. In addition to his tremendous support of the community, he also supported Cerebral through his various platforms. Kidd’s diagnosis was a clear opportunity for the team in Denver to return the support they’d received from him.

Double Feature Release

Don’t Drink Beer has been a longtime champion of Barleywines, and pioneered their popularity in the beer scene. For Cerebral’s May 23, 2023, tribute to Alex, the team tapped a single keg of their Celestial Origin English-style Barleywine and re-released a limited number of bottles alongside their Black Barleywine, Monsters of the Night Sky. All proceeds of the event went directly to the Kidds, and ultimately the fundraiser brought in $2,779 for the Kidd Family GoFundMe. This generous donation meant so much to Alex and his family, and contributed to an incredible month of support in the weeks just after receiving his diagnosis.

Cerebral Brewing’s also showed its generosity toward the team at PorchDrinking.com by sending a bottle of each of these releases to us for review as part of this series. We are always excited to share our experiences with these limited beers with you all.

Celestial Origin

Label Image, Celestial Origin
Label image provided by Cerebral Brewing

Celestial Origin, an English-Style Barleywine originally debuted in 2021. According to Cerebral: “Barleywine’s journey through the vastness is storied and its legacy is legendary. We believe it deserves its place in the galactic order.” For their recipe, the Cerebral team used floor-malted Maris Otter and a touch of Colorado wheat. It was then double-mashed for focused flavor and hopped exclusively with East Kent Golding hops. To support Alex Kidd, Cerebral re-released the 2022 vintage, which slumbered in both Willett Rye Whiskey and eight- to 10-year grape brandy barrels for 16 months.

The Review

Review imagery, Cerebral Brewing's Celestial Origin
Photo by Eric Griffin

Indulge in the depths of this dark pour, where flecks of ruby dance as it catches the light. A delicate head of froth swiftly settles, unveiling a liquid that beckons with mysterious allure.

The aroma is equally unique and enticing—a symphony of grape brandy intertwines with jammy fruits, while notes of caramel candy and fruitcake amplify the indulgence.

Upon the palate, fruits take center stage, their essence dancing amidst undertones of creamy milk chocolate. Complexity reigns supreme, with each sip revealing layers of richness, accented by the subtle embrace of bourbon staves and the warmth of baking spices.

Though the mouthfeel carries a touch thin at first, there’s a lingering sense of satisfaction—a subtle warmth, a hint of bitterness that pleasantly lingers. While we collectively agreed that a longer boil time would not have hurt, the thinner barleywine profile seems to embrace its fruit-forward nature.

Monsters of the Night Sky

Label Image for Monsters of the Night Sky
Label image provided by Cerebral Brewing

A blend of two Cerebral beers, Monsters of the Night Sky is a combination of Stout and Barleywine. For the recipe, the Cerebral team aged Celestial Origin Barleywine in 16-year George Dickel Whiskey barrels before blending it with their Here Be Monsters Imperial Stout that had aged in Laws’ six-year Four Grain Bourbon barrels. Both were aged for 26 months before being combined and conditioned on Comoros vanilla beans.

The Review

Review Imagery, Cerebral Brewing's Monsters of the Night Sky
Photo by Eric Griffin

Embark on a journey into this mesmerizing blend—a dark elixir not unlike the night sky, adorned with hues of brown and gold, its allure enhanced by a crown of carbonation that settles slowly.

As the aroma blossoms, it’s a symphony for the senses—Charleston Chew candy intertwines vanilla and velvety milk chocolate. Yet beneath this decadent veil lies the softest hint of fruit, carefully balanced to perfection, further emphasizing a Stout-driven embrace.

Upon the palate is a marriage of Barleywine magnificence and the subtle caress of oak, weaving a complexity of flavor. Here, the richness of stewed fruits dances alongside the warmth of a well-integrated barrel, while gentle esters and a nuanced sweetness linger. Trails of burnt caramel and vanilla elevate the complexity and re-integrate components of the Stout side of the blend.

Though the finish may be fleeting, there is still a delicate balance of richness, fruit and the drying embrace of oak. The texture, though verging on thin, leaves behind a subtle warmth that follows long into the next sip.

Supporting the Kidds

There’s no procedural sugar-coating when it comes to cancer. For Alex, this last round of chemotherapy was notably brutal. But the fight continues. With his last round of the session completed yesterday, he’s continuing to push forward as he has since Day 1. He made a point to note during a recent conversation that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Any contributions toward assisting in future medical procedures are always welcome, and the Kidd Family GoFundMe can be found here. We will continue to provide updates on the site and highlight industry support over the past 10 months. Additionally, reviews of their dedicated releases are meant to be an homage to Don’t Drink Beer, the best reviewer of beers there’s ever been, in the hopes he can continue to live (and taste) vicariously through our experiences. Stay tuned next week as Wren House Brewing enters the spotlight with their Life Barleywine, a specially brewed release from last July that saw 100% of proceeds go the Kidd family. Stay Strong, Alex!


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