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Lua Brewing | Lua’s Birthday Blend Barleywine

Lua's Birthday Blend
Eric Griffin

A curious question that arises frequently at brewery bars is “How’d you decide on the name?” Sometimes there’s quirky, meaningful backstories, sometimes it’s a spin on the founder’s names, sometimes it’s inspired by their geographic location, or it’s one of a million other possibilities. For Lua Brewing, owners Scott and Whitney Selix found no better namesake for their passion project than their beloved pup. Lua turned 13 years old on March 14th of this year, and a month later the team in Iowa released a very special birthday blend in her honor.

The Brewery

When Scott and Whitney opened Lua’s doors in 2019, it had been the culmination of over a decade in nearly every aspect of the food service and beer industries. Joining their team were some big names in their respective specialties, with Zack Dunbar coming from Forager Brewery to lead the Brewing team, and Executive Chef James Arbaugh relocating to Des Moines all the way from the Bay Area to head the kitchen.

This passionate program of decorated individuals have always striven for quality over all, and in a very short period of time have proven to be an incredibly formidable force in the industry. They’ll never cut corners, and they have one of the most extensive portfolios of beer and craft beverages you’ll find. While their lineup of beers includes a variety of IPAs, lagers, saisons, sours, and even cannabis-infused seltzers, they’ve really made a lot of noise with their high-gravity offerings. In fact, as part of our Collaborating for a Cause series supporting Alex Kidd, we covered their Destroyer Barleywine lineup. Originally released as party of their 3rd Anniversary celebration in October 2022, a very small amount of sets were re-released to support the Kidds as Alex continues his fight with Stage IV cancer.

Lua’s Birthday Blend

Label, Lua's Birthday Blend barleywine, Lua Brewing
Label Courtesy of Lua Brewing | Artwork by EB Albeit

In order to properly celebrate one of the finest pups to grace this earth, the Lua team really pulled out all the stops for this special barleywine. The blend included of some of their most prized, complex barrels. Four threads of different barleywine and old ale recipes aged 18-35 months in a variety of spirit barrels.

The bottle count for the release was 150, sold exclusively at the taproom beginning on April 12th. As suspected, these went quickly. The pupper-loving PorchDrinking team wanted to make sure we both tipped our cap to this release’s inspiration as well as share a review of a truly spectacular blend well-worthy of the occasion.

The Review

Review of Lua's Birthday Blend, a barleywine for the owner's dog Lua
Photo by Eric Griffin

The pour boasts a deep, rich mahogany hue. Very little carbonation builds up on the aggressive pour, with the liquid quickly settling flat.

While uncertain of what variety of spirit barrels were used for Lua’s birthday cuvée, the nose is very characteristic of a Sherry barrel-aged beer. Notes of dried fruit and fig provide a delicate touch of dryness and acidity, followed closely by undertones of tobacco and a touch of nuttiness.

On the palate, fruit largely characterizes the taste, similar to the nose. Raisin, apricot, and ripe berries lead into an increasingly smoky profile as the beer continues to warm and oxidize a bit further. The mid-palate begins to feature a mildly bittering caramel and baking chocolate, and we parallel some of these identifiers as being similar to a Port wine. Warming spices and boot leather linger on the finish, culminating into a very cognac-adjacent flavor profile.

The viscosity is great on this; not overtly heavy and with appropriate carbonation to cut the weight. It’s also worth noting that the dangerously smooth finish is alarmingly approachable for the 17% ABV that this final blend boasts.

The Goodest Girl

Birthday picture of Lua Brewing's namesake pup
Happy Birthday, Lua! | Photo Courtesy of Lua Brewing via Instagram

While Lua’s big day has since passed, and they created a fantastic blend in her honor, we still need to remind ourselves to look forward to the next big celebration on the horizon for this small Des Moines brewery. Lua Brewing will celebrate its 5th Anniversary later this year, so keep an eye out for updates as October begins to creep closer. But for now, a Happy belated Birthday to Lua the pup, and cheers to 13 years!


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