If you live in the Seattle area and you like beer enough to read this blog, chances are pretty good that you will be hitting up Big Wood Fest at Brouwer’s Cafe, if not on opening night (Thursday Dec. 2), at some point this coming weekend. Hopefully you have already gazed upon the outstanding preliminary list which can be found on our site here and on Brouwer’s blog.
Clearly, there’s a lot of options to chose from, and all of us, most unfortunately, only have one measly liver to assist us in tackling them. This is where we come in. We drink a lot of beer. We have been to BWF several times now. If you want to make sure that you order your barrel aged beers wisely, heed our advice. We don’t think that you will be disappointed.
I’ve decided to choose my top 15. These are the beers that I plan to sample, based on the current list. It’s my game plan. I know what you are thinking, and yes, I actually do think that I can try 15 beers. When bb.com goes to big beer events at Brouwer’s, where there is never a cover, we make sure to roll deep. We bring out as many friends as possible, we direct them on what to order, and then we drink their beers (of course we let them drink ours too). Always be sure to order the smallest size that is offered, every time. These events are all about getting your hands, and tastes buds, on as many special and rare beers as possible.
This list is, as always with Brouwer’s events, subject to change because it is very likely that the final list will include a few eye-popping secrets. This year I’m hoping to see a few more special Hair of the Dog beers, more vintage Bottleworks Anniversary beers like barrel aged Ivan the Terrible, and maybe some more killer locals like Petite Mort from Black Raven or some Big Time treats.
Barrel Reserve – Brouwer’s has started a little trend in the past few years with bringing in some Midwest offerings that are rarely, if ever seen in WA. Last year we were graced with Stoudt’s (PA represent!) Barrel Aged Fat Dog and some absolutely insane Founder’s beer. I think it was a maple barrel aged Breakfast Stout or KBS. Dunno but is was bonkers! If this is the People’s Brewing Co. from IN, then this is a beer that you will most likely not see in Seattle for a very long time to come. Why not give it a whack?
Oak Aged Gospel – Gospel is an IPA. I had to have at least one IPA on this list, and I’m proud to support SRB. You might remember reading us gush about the Bourbon Barrel Reverend at Hop Fest. If this one is even close to as good we are in for a treat. Brewer Mike Armstrong is an amazing guy and an amazing brewer. He almost always attends these event on opening day so seek him out and shake his manly brewer hand.
??? – What will it be? My guess, Twangzister, their barrel aged sour cherry stout. If I’m right, this beer deserves to be much higher on the list, but I can’t just go around making bold moves on pure speculation now can I? I do feel confident putting this on my list either way, because Chris Miller makes amazing beer, some of the best in the state.
??? – Those erotemes could easily read “Barrel Aged Bile” and I would still order it, yes…mostly because I wouldn’t believe that it was actually bile, but also because Cascade shits gold. Hand me any Cascade beer, any time, any day, and I will love you forever. Just get this, please.
11. Boundary Bay
Imperial Oaked Oatmeal Stout – BBB Impy Oatmeal Stout is, like their Imperial IPA, a beer that I can never see and not order. It’s just so smooth and dark and mysterious. An oak aged version…shut the f…ront door! Purchased! Beer Blotter couldn’t heart a brewery more than we heart Boundary Bay.
Rye Whiskey Aged Imperial Stout – Ok, I admit it, I rarely recommend a Hale’s beer in my festival previews. It’s not at all because I have a problem with the brewery, in fact, I’m a fan. The things that they do with that hopback of theirs really impress me… but this is not an IPA… What excites me about this one? Well, it’s quite simple actually – when I see the words “Rye” and Whiskey” and “Imperial” and “Stout” all lined up in order like that, it’s such a thrilling sight that I absolutely must participate. Yeah, I’ll be trying this one.
Lucky 13 – According to Brouwer’s twitter/facebook, this is a blend of Arrogant Bastard, Oaked Bastard, and Double Bastard. I guess that would make this aka Lukcy Basartd (yeah, that’s how they spell it). Despite the fact that I don’t particularly like any of those three beers (I know, I’m pure freak), I’m really intrigued. This is a one time, limited release from Stone, so give it some rare points.
8. Port Townsend
Maple’s Best BBN Imperial Stout – PTB has always been a great brewery, but lately it seems that they have really been stepping up their game. I have a personal rule, if I see a PTB beer on tap that isn’t one of their standard offerings, I will never let it pass me by. I think you should have the same rule. In this particular case, you had me with impy stout, and then you really rubbed in it with the maple. Gimme.
7. Midnight Sun
Beserker – MSB makes a lot of really sick beers that rarely make it out of AK. Berserker is one that was bottled and came to Seattle in a very, very limited supply. I only have a bottle in the cellar because DSR and Jess were in the right place at the right time and they hooked it up. I think all that I really need to do to sell you on this one is to tell you the description… it’s a 12.7% imperial stout brewed with molasses and maple syrup and aged in oak. Game over.
6. The Bruery
Three French Hens – I was fairly recently informed that bottles of Partridge in a Pear Tree (the first in their 12 Days/Years of Christmas Series) were going for nearly $300 on ebay. Ever since, I’ve gone to great lengths to find and procure each new release in the series. The cellar is caught up, but you better believe that I’m not going to crack one for another 9 years, that is if I don’t just sell the set and retire young. This will be my chance to actually try one, and you better believe I’m going to take it.
Matt – Just in case you had a brain aneurysm in the past few seconds, HotD stands for Hair of the Dog, and it’s in all three members of Beer Blotter’s top 10 breweries in the world list. Alan Sprints is beer royalty. We love Matt, which was specially brewed for the owner’s of Brouwer’s/Bottleworks for Bottlework’s tenth anniversary. It’s sour, and like every beer from this Portland brewery, it’s fantastic. We are very hopeful that this is not the only HotD on the taplist come Thursday, but if it is, we will never complain, because we just savored Matt (the beer, not the person, but hey Matt(s)…call me).
4. The Bruery
Coton – I know, I’m sort of obsessed with The Bruery, but god damn it they deserve my obsession! Coton is The Bruery’s second anniversary beer and it’s basically a blend of oak barrel aged Papier (their first anniversary beer) and a new, un-aged brew of Papier, which is an old ale. When I bought a bottle of Papier in ’09 I thought it was a little overpriced, but Coton is probably the most expensive “new” beer I have ever bought. Get it on tap, if for no other reason than the fact that it will be slightly more affordable. Oh yeah, also because old ales are amazing and their version is beyond amazing, and very rare.
3. New Belgium
Sour Blackberry Whiskey – So I’m not 100% sure of this, but some mild research has lent me to believe that this is NBB’s Love (true lambic, foeder #3, blended into La Folie & Le Terroir, insanely, amazingly good, amazed that it’s made in America and not Belgium…), transferred into whiskey barrels and aged with blackberries. If I’m right, this might be the greatest beer on Earth. Again, speculation, blah, blah…
2. Firestone Walker
14 – Like far too many beers, I went to great lengths to get this beer in the bottle and could only afford one, so I have it but have never had it, if you know what I mean. DSR and Jess had it during SD Beer Week and said it blew their collective mind. If I went into what this beer consisted of here…well…this article would take a lot longer to read than it has already taken you. Just check out this post
by the good people over at beernews.org
and salivate yourself into a puddle.
1. Russian River
Deviation – HAHA! Wow…where to start. Ok Tim, try to keep it together… Every time that I see this beer on tap at Brouwer’s I treat it like it’s the last time I’ll ever have it. Deep inside I know that that isn’t really true, because I have a bottle in my cellar that I bought on the day that it came out in ’08, but who knows, my house could burn down some day or global warming could scorch the Earth’s crust and it could boil itself undrinkable. I consider that bottle to be the most valuable bottle of beer that I currently own. Yeah that whole Partridge in a Pear Tree thing, if it’s true, might prove me wrong, but there’s more to it than monetary value alone.
Deviation is the best Russian River beer that I have ever had (and that puts it very high on my all time list, if not at the top). Also, Bottleworks periodically pulls some out of their cellar and sells it for nearly $100 a bottle. I think I bought it for $15. This beer is the epitome of rare and the epitome of mind-blowingly delicious. Please, don’t order this so that I can drink it all, that is, if it really does still exist…