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Collaborating for a Cause | For Alex

Feature Image for Wax Wing's For Alex Barleywine
Eric Griffin

At the end of May 2023, Wax Wings Brewing pledged their support for Alex Kidd with a dedicated bottle release. This series has always looked to highlight breweries and the benefits they’ve conducted to help support Alex and his family as he continues to fight for his life. As we approach 20 installments to this series from breweries and meaderies all over the country – and even Norway! – we find ourselves back in Michigan to take a deep dive into Wax Wing’s For Alex release.

The Wax Wings Cause

The Brewery

This small Kalamazoo brewery opened their doors in the summer of 2018, and has been continuing to gain traction and popularity every year. The team at Wax Wings has always operated behind the idea of letting the demand for their product dictate their progress. That is to say, they’ve always been very thoughtful in their pace and have never tried to get ahead of themselves. They thrive off of experimentation with their beers, and have developed a very impressive barrel program and portfolio of high-gravity beers during a short period of time. Their tagline, ‘Obsessed with freshness. Unabashedly Unfiltered’ undoubtedly speaks to what they have always looked to achieve with their product.

The Release

On May 30th, 2023, Wax Wings announced a very special beer release dedicated to Alex Kidd. As stated in their announcement, DDB has been the most important voice in modern craft beer for some time. He is someone who helped make their small brand relevant in the world of barleywines following the review of Choros on his podcast, and included it in his Best of 2022 list. Their announcement post recalled the long phone call that followed when they had seen his comments, and the team was over the moon. Alex’s high praise marked a turning point for the brewery’s barrel program, and his support has meant the world. This beer was a way to show him that they are behind him just as much.

There was an extended pre-order for the beer to help raise more funds for their contribution, with pickups for bottles not even beginning until October 13th. In the end, Wax Wing’s donation to the Kidd family GoFundMe was yet another amazing show of support from the beer community.

We were lucky enough to obtain a bottle of For Alex, sharing a review with our readers and exploring such a personal and meaningful beer to the team in Kalamazoo.

For Alex

Label Artwork for Wax Wing's For Alex Barleywine
For Alex Label Artwork

This Double Barrel-Aged Barleywine began in a 15-Year Barton bourbon barrel before being transferred to an Apple Brandy barrel until ready for bottling. Finishing ABV on the beer was 15%.

The Review

Review Image for Wax Wings' For Alex Barleywine
Photo by Eric Griffin

The pour on For Alex boasts deep umber coloration with a ruby hue. There’s lingering traces of off-white head buildup that quickly settles into a thin ring around the body of the beer.

The malt bill introduces itself on the nose with authority. Initially, at a colder temperature it was almost savory, with a spiced quality akin to rye whiskey. Woody notes follow closely – dry, leathery, and resiny – while subtle notes of fruit integrate into the finish.

Again a malt-forward profile features on the palate, providing the concrete backbone for the experience. The apple brandy takes some time to come to the forefront, but after about 10 minutes in the glass we begin to note caramel apple and hints of acidity. Mildly bittering esters follow, with undertones of molasses and just a touch of a cashew-forward nuttiness.

The mouthfeel exudes balance; not overtly heavy, but still with enough viscosity to coat the palate. This double barleywine finishes fairly dry, but retains an alarming smoothness; devoid of the warmth expected from a 15% ABV beer.

Supporting the Kidd Family

Sometimes no news is good news. As spring quickly transitions into summer, Alex is just enjoying time with his family. And we’ve even continued to enjoy DDB’s easily recognizable idiolect through reviews of the industry’s top non-alcoholic offerings. Not only that, but he’s even had us drooling over recaps of various Michelin-star restaurant experiences.

And Collaborating for a Cause continues, highlighting the industry’s immense generosity in support of its most outspoken icon. As always, if you would like to contribute, the Kidd family GoFundMe can be found here. Join us next week as we highlight the collaboration responsible for the largest donation to Alex and his family to date. We learn more about this massive effort led by The Veil Brewing, as well as the impact that DDB has had on some of these brewery’s respective journeys. Stay strong, Alex!

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