#bba Archives – PorchDrinking.com
Without question, 2020 has been one of the wildest years in human memory. With world-shaping events happening (it seems) almost every day, and the constant, grating drip of catastrophe from the news, one is always on the lookout for reprieve, for some sort of grace.
We all remember the first time we waited in an exceptionally long line for an exceptionally small pour of a notable beer. On a sunny SoCal day in May 2015, at The Bruery’s 7th Anniversary party, a beer from local upstart Bottle Logic Brewing named Fundamental Observation showed up like Lindsay Lohan as the new queen bee of The Plastics. An explosion of vanilla followed by the soft cuddle of high-end bourbon barrels, this beer was a delicious needle in the four hours of unlimited tastings haystack. With the next public release of this beer came a block-spanning line, providing a delicious 8oz reward for an hour of your time, and the first memory of waiting in extended anticipation for a single draught of excellence.
The 2019 GABF Gold Medal for Chicago’s Begyle Brewing Barrel-Aged Imperial Pajamas gave credence to those who boasted of its excellence, and the award did wonders for its popularity. However, medals only go so far; Chicago’s beer crowd can be downright snobby about BBAs. The annual Imperial Pajamas release enjoys increasing fanfare because of its consistency, quality and a taproom party consisting of hour-by-hour variant tappings. Sadly, the global pandemic prevented Begyle from throwing its annual gathering. Nevertheless, the three packaged Pajamas stand as exemplary BBAs and evidence of why the program now hangs with the big boys and girls of the strong barrel-aging beer world.
This year’s three Imperial Pajamas release consists of the classic in Heaven Hill barrels, a vanilla variant and a special version aged in Booker Bourbon barrels. “We’ve had a lot of fun with release day variants, the way we handled those hourly releases allowed us to explore many different flavor combinations over the years. With our first foray into canning a barrel aged variant we chose vanilla as it is one of the most versatile ingredients we use in several of the variant combos we have done in the past. From the feedback we’ve gotten vanilla was always the most popular flavor, whether it was just vanilla, or vanilla combined with other ingredients,” said Kevin Cary, Begyle co-founder.
Pure barrel flavoring. No extracts. No syrups. No sugar bombs. The Imperial Oak Brewing Quiet Giant (strong) Barrel-Aged American Imperial Stout series, now in its sixth year, celebrates the artistry of barrel-aging in its purest form.
Yes, there are varieties with adjuncts, but only as complementary flavors. “Why put a beer in a barrel for a year and then completely cover it up? That’s why the two-year [BBA] is still my personal favorite. But, I do like our variants. They aren’t going to knock you in the face. That’s not our thing. None of them are going to be a chocolate bomb, coconut bomb..that type of terminology. I like adjuncts. But, I want it to be subtle and complement the beer,” said Brett Semenske co-owner and brewer.
Quiet Giant arrives each year for its anniversary, which this year enjoys the theme: Six years, Six Feet Apart (details can be found at the end of this story). The party slogan speaks to the challenges presented to breweries in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic. But, Illinois’ case numbers are declining, patios are open and the beer remains consistent as ever. Going forward, most can expect five variants to arrive each May (this year in June due to the COVID-19 lockdown), with more two-year BBA for 2021. However, this year, Imperial Oak also has a one-time special beer from its Savage Oak room, offered in bottles.
When you bookend your day with drinks, it’s important to have quality ones. Coffee in the morning? Grind up something fresh to kick-start a productive day. Beer at night? That first crack open that has your taste buds thanking you after that productive day. Rinse and repeat.
Barrel & Bean from Allagash Brewing Company combines the best of both of the coffee and beer worlds. And when one thinks of a coffee beer, it’s common to think of a stout. That’s my first thought. But Barrel & Bean takes a different approach to a coffee-blended beer: the result is a combination of a Belgian-style golden ale aged in bourbon barrels with cold-brewed coffee from a local coffee roaster, Speckled Ax.
On Black Wednesday (Nov 27), BuckleDown Brewing in Lyons, IL (just outside of Chicago proper) will release the third edition of its Significant BBA (Bourbon-Barrel-Aged) Imperial Milk Stout. The three-year-old program has transitioned from bombers to cans, and has grown from one bottled variety to four canned offerings: the base and three variants. Each year, the brewery has used different barrels to store the beer with this year relying on Few Spirits, located in Chicago.
Fresh off its Silver Medal at the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer (FoBAB) for its Rye Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, Crystal Lake Brewing has unveiled its 2019 Boathouse Reserve barrel-aged series, which will formally be released on Saturday, November 23. …
The GABF Gold Medal awarded to Begyle Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Pajamas validated what many already knew: in a town abound in exceptional bourbon-barrel-aged beer, Begyle’s has risen to become one of the best. The 2019 release on Friday, November 15, will be the first for the Community Supported Brewery (CSB) since winning the medal. They graciously hosted PorchDrinking a couple of days early, offering to provide us with a few tastes and plenty of discussion about its barreling program.
Deep Woods. Boathouse Reserve. Bourbon County. Barrel Aged Imperial Pajamas. Quiet Giant. The maturation and evolution of Chicago-Area craft breweries has not included a drift away from the style created in the Windy City — Bourbon Barrel Aging. And, breweries that have gained named recognition in the past few years commonly release of a lauded, coveted and oft-cellared BBA. For Imperial Oak Brewing, a continually expanding suburban-Chicago brewery that’s recently added an entire space dedicated to Foeders and other barrels (The Savage Oak Room), its best-selling beer is Quiet Giant. Each year, the beer once deemed a PorchDrinking.com favorite at Beer Under Glass (BUG) in 2017 arrives just in time for both BUG and its summertime anniversary party. This year Imperial Oak has five variants; one for each year its been open.
We at PorchDrinking were privvy to a special preview before Beer Under Glass, and are pleased to share our findings with you.
With Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout now fully released and Revolution’s Deep Wood series with one more small release in January, we can take a step back and see how these beers stacked up against one another this year.
In no way am I saying that these are the best and only barrel-aged Stouts coming out of Chicago that we should talk about this season. However, when you have two behemoths like Revolution and Goose Island in one city, it’s hard not to compare them side-by-side with their biggest releases.
Some argued that the Jameson Whiskey presence at GABF may at first seem almost hypocritical, given the Brewers Association stance on companies such as Anheuser Busch InBev (ABI). As a writer who full-time covers both spirits and beer, I can confidently argue that one should never confuse the two industries. As liquids, they may be similar. They are not industry siblings, however, but instead distant cousins. Moreover, whereas companies like ABI seek to confuse the marketplace, actively targeting craft beer drinkers and even paying fines for unfair practices, Jameson has never hidden from its name and the distillery consistently champions and collaborates with craft breweries, both in the U.S. and Ireland.
(For my short commentary on Jameson and the spirits industry—vs. the beer industry—see the two paragraphs at the bottom of the story.)
Founders Brewing is bringing its freshly-released KBS and the entire Grand Rapids experience to Tribes Beer Co., located in Chicago’s southern suburb of Tinley Park, on April 3. Along with the 2018 KBS, there will be a special menu, live music and a host of highly regarded beers such as ’17 KBS, CBS, Doom, Backwoods Bastard and Frootwood.
The event starts 5 p.m! All you need is an appetite and a thirst for good beer.
The physical manifestation of American Craft Beer’s evolution exists with Imperial Oak Brewing Ragnarok Rum-Barrel-Aged Baltic Porter. It’s not just a craft beer; it’s a crafted lager. It’s not just any lager; it’s a Baltic Porter. It’s not just barrel-aged or aged in the bourbon barrels; it’s aged in rum barrels. I doubt even Ken Grossman could have envisioned a beer such as this back in the late 1980s. But, this is 2017, and this is how far craft beer has come.
Each year, throngs of beer fans ignore industry arguments and engage in the annual Black Friday hunt for Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout (BCBS). It’s difficult to argue its historical significance, current popularity and quality. But, do people covet BCBS due to its quality or because of its fame? Or, is it a little of both? There’s no right answer, and there’s no judgement to be given for choosing either option. But, maybe it’s not really about choice as it is a sign that the BCBS fame can’t last forever.
Maybe, what we are seeing is a slowly evolving beer revolution akin to the bloodless 1688 Glorious Revolution in England that ousted a King and forever put the government in the hands of Parliament. BCBS isn’t going away and it will likely always be revered. However, other beers might well supplant its power within the market and on social media.
This is a sponsored post for Alamo Drafthouse
To boldly go where no beer has gone before, in this day in age is a pretty dubious task. That said, Eugene, OR’s Ninkasi Brewing raised the bar in 2014 when they launched six samples of brewers yeast into space and back and successfully brewed a beer afterwards aptly named Ground Control.
Chef Rick Bayless’ revered Chicago-based Cruz Blanca Brewery and Tequiera is most-known for its contemporary Mexican cuisine and daring craft beer creations. Now, they’re getting into the barrel-aged game with the debut of their barrel-aged series: Luchador Club, launching December 2nd. Cruz Blanca’s new barrel-aged offerings will add a unique, Mexican-infused element to Chicago’s vast assortment of barrel-aged powerhouses like Goose Island BCBS, Half Acre Big Hugs and Revolution’s Deep Wood series – and I for one can’t wait to try it. Here’s what you need to know.
A raging-river’s worth of barrel-aged beer flows through Chicago during November and December. Breweries often release special beers and throw plenty of parties on both Black Wednesday and, even more-so, Black Friday. But, it all starts with the day before Thanksgiving, allowing beer drinkers an opportunity to party, as well as purchase some Turkey-Day goodies!
Events are listed as we received them
ABV: 14.0% | IBU: 65
Fremont Brewing delivers another liquid giant to liven up another holiday season. Coffee Cinnamon B-Bomb is the awesomely adjunct-ed, cooler and even more popular older cousin of Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Ale, Fremont’s flagship bourbon barrel aged beer. It can be found lounging around the MoonTower, slicking back it’s long golden waxy locks, and murmuring phrases like: “Alright, alright, alright.”
The world’s largest barrel-aged beer competition, held at the Festival of Barrel Aged Beer (FoBAB) in Chicago, is underway. However, the FoBAB 2016 awards are now official, and our Chicago/Midwest editor, Mike Zoeller was there. Here are the results — congrats to all the winners!
Finally, the season is changing. The days are shorter, the nights are cooler, and the leaves are making a quick exit from the trees. I mean let’s face it… this was an unending summer. It’s all anyone talked about. We needed low alcohol brews that were loaded with fruit, because if we drank anything heavier, we may have literally died. Or melted. Or burst into flames. It was seriously hot out there.