From The Cellar: New Glarus Unplugged Iced Barley Wine 2009

New Glarus says:

“Frozen in the cellars over a powerful twelve week fermentation. You hold an elegant riot of bittersweet sherry and dark fruit earthy notes. Warm and expansive it will fill your senses. Great for contemplative sipping now or lay down for an elegant occasion with friends.”

img_02911New Glarus Unplugged Iced Barley Wine
English Barleywine, 13.5% ABV

(Editors note: we’ve stockpiled enough Dark Horse 3 Guy Off The Scale to review it every-so-often to see how it is developing, aging and changing. Feel free to read through from the one year tasting to the most recent review. However, if you’d like to jump around, be our guest, and read more about Dark Horse 3 Guy Off The Scale after one year, three years and five years in the cellar.) Continue reading

From The Cellar: Dark Horse 3 Guy Off The Scale Barley Wine 2009

Dark Horse says:

“A barley wine style ale brewed to 15% alcohol with hints of raisin, chocolate, caramel, sherry, cherry, and alcohol, just to name a few. And this beer will only get better with age.”

img_02981Dark Horse 3 Guy Off The Scale Barley Wine
American Barleywine, 15% ABV

(Editors note: we’ve stockpiled enough Dark Horse 3 Guy Off The Scale to review it every-so-often to see how it is developing, aging and changing. Feel free to read through from the one year tasting to the most recent review. However, if you’d like to jump around, be our guest, and read more about Dark Horse 3 Guy Off The Scale after one year, three years and five years in the cellar.) Continue reading

From The Cellar: Bell’s Eccentric Ale 2009

Bell’s says:

“Malt beverage brewed with spices, maple syrup and hawberry syrup.”

eccentric092Bell’s Eccentric Ale 2009
American Strong Ale, 12.10% ABV

(Editors note: we’ve stockpiled enough Bell’s Eccentric Ale 2009 to review it every so often to see how it is developing, aging and changing. Feel free to read through from the fresh tasting to the most recent review. However, if you’d like to jump around, be our guest, and read more about Bell’s Eccentric Ale 2009 fresh, after two years and three years in the cellar.)

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From The Cellar: Founders Nemesis 2009

Founders says:

“What you have here is a rarity. A special, one-of-a-kind ale that is only made once a year. Sometimes that’s all. Forever. No more. Nada. Limited-time only. You never know what you’re gonna get. But you can be sure it’ll be damn tasty.”

nemesis091Founders Nemesis 2009
Wheatwine, 12% ABV

(Editors note: we’ve stockpiled enough Founders Nemesis 2009 to review it every year or so to see how it is developing, aging and changing. Feel free to read through from the one-year tasting to the most recent review. However, if you’d like to jump around, be our guest, and read more about Founders Nemesis 2009 after one year, two years, three years and four years in the cellar.) Continue reading

From The Cellar: Bell’s Eccentric Ale 2008

Bell’s says:

“Malt Beverage brewed with Birch Syrup, Honey, Maple Syrup, Juniper Berry, and Elderflower.”

eccentric081Bell’s Eccentric Ale 2008
American Strong Ale, 10.1% ABV

(Editors note: we’ve stockpiled enough Bell’s Eccentric Ale 2008 to review it every so often to see how it is developing, aging and changing. Feel free to read through from the year old tasting to the most recent review. However, if you’d like to jump around, be our guest, and read more about Bell’s Eccentric Ale after one year, three years and four years in the cellar.)

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From The Cellar: New Glarus Barleywine

New Glarus says:

“Our 2012 Barley Wine bridges continents of style, a harmonious creation of Diploma Master Brewer Daniel Carey. He personally chose the hop fields that were harvested for this powerful beast of a brew. Styrian Golding, Willamette, Columbia, and Sterling with bold citrus and resin notes. All perfectly balanced with toasty graham cracker flavors of floor malted barley. Savor this very big beer at 45° F and it will reward you with an open embrace. “

VE11 GI Arcadia Tasting Feb128New Glarus Thumbprint Barleywine
American Barleywine, 12% ABV

(Editors note: we’ve stockpiled enough New Glarus Thumbprint Barleywine to review it each year to see how it is developing, aging and changing. Feel free to read through from the fresh tasting to the most recent review. However, if you’d like to jump around, be our guest, and read more about New Glarus Thumbprint Barleywine fresh, after one year, and two years in the cellar.)
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From the Cellar: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout 5 Year Vertical (2009-2013)

Brooklyn Brewery says:

“This is the famous Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, our award-winning rendition of the Imperial Stout style, once made exclusively for Catherine the Great. We use three mashes to brew each batch of this beer, achieving a luscious deep dark chocolate flavor through a blend of specially roasted malts. We brew it every year for the winter season. It is delicious when newly bottled, but also ages beautifully for years.”

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Russian Imperial Stout 5Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
Russian Imperial Stout, 10% ABV

Ryan’s been itching to crack into these bottles of Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout for a while. Five years, as a matter of fact. Let’s take a look at how kind time has been (or hasn’t been) to this offering from Brooklyn: Continue reading

From The Cellar: Bell’s Batch 10,000

Bell’s says:

“The last of a series, Batch 10,000 Ale looks back to our roots, symbolizing the end of the home-brewing season with a creative take on “cleaning out the brewing supplies closet”. After combing through the catalogs of many malt and hop suppliers, our brewers used over 100 different malts, grains, and other fermentables, and followed them up with a blend of 60 different hop varietals between the kettle additions and dry-hopping.”

batch10kBell’s Batch 10,000
American Strong Ale, 9.2% ABV

(Editors note: we’ve stockpiled enough Bell’s Batch 10,000 to review it every six months to a year to see how it is developing, aging and changing. Feel free to read through from the fresh tasting to the most recent review. However, if you’d like to jump around, be our guest, and read more about Bell’s Batch 10,000 fresh, after one-and-a-half years, two years and three years in the cellar.)

FRESH

Ryan: When I read the commercial description of Batch 10,000 and the borderline ridiculous ingredient list used I thought about the opening scene in Act IV of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Hang with me a second on this. The play opens with an introduction to three witches who, in the fourth act, are huddled around a cauldron tossing in “toe of frog, wool of bat, and tongue of dog,” amongst other things. After each batch of ingredients are added they chant in unison:

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

This is how I imagine Batch 10,000 came about. I picture Larry Bell and his brewers encircled around a brew kettle. The crew is surrounded by buckets upon buckets of ingredients; coffee malt, rye, Michigan hops and the other 150+ ingredients that went in to making this beer. After dumping in a series of malts and grains the crew chants:

Double, double perle and fuggle; Fire burn, and wort bubble.

Continue reading

From The Cellar: Bell’s Batch 9,000

Bell’s says:

“Black, dense, and rich, this is a great ale for the cellar.”

Bell's Batch 9000Bell’s Batch 9,000
American Strong Ale, 12.5% ABV

(Editors note: we’ve stockpiled enough Bell’s Batch 9,000 to review it every six months to a year to see how it is developing, aging and changing. Feel free to read through from the six month old tasting to the most recent review. However, if you’d like to jump around, be our guest, and read more about Bell’s Batch 9,000 after six months, one year, two years, two-and-a-half years, three years, three-and-a-half years and four years in the cellar.)

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Drink Three Years Worth of Half Acre Big Hugs Thursday At Jerry’s in Andersonville

If there is one thing we here at Guys Drinking Beer are particularly fond of, it’s vertical tastings. We’ve done plenty in the past and enjoy the journey of compiling the beers almost as much as we do drinking them. Almost. So when we saw that Jerry’s in Andersonville is tapping three year’s worth of Half Acre Big Hugs on Thursday January 30th we felt compelled to trumpet the event. Not that we really need a reason to — it’s three years worth of Big Hugs, after all.

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What we Drank in 2013: Our Top 10 Beers of the Year

What you see below is an unranked list of our top 10 beers of the year. You’ll notice Ryan’s list is heavy on the cellared beers because — well — less time to drink out means more time to drink in. Having kids will do that to a man. Thankfully, Karl picked up the slack by hunting down a combination of unique one-offs and attainable everyday offerings. All for the good of the cause, we’re sure.

We hope you enjoy reading about these beers as much as we enjoyed drinking them. Continue reading

GDB’s 2013 Chicago Craft Beer Awards

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, age-gated children born in 1991 and beyond, to the third (now annual, we suppose) edition of the Chicago Craft Beer Awards.

You will recall that all of this started in 2011 with this Chitown On Tap piece, and the baton was passed to us last year where we came up with this.

This year, we’ve added some categories, removed some others, had a little fun with a few, and basically just thought “who deserves to be given an attaboy this year” until we came up with this. Much like we said last year, allow us to present you these Chicago Craft Beer “Awards” as our way to continue the appreciation and acknowledgement of the craftsmen and women who have made 2013 the best year in Chicago beer ever.

As always, for what we get right, thank them, for what we get wrong, blame us – and tell us who you think deserves respect and appreciation in ways we may have forgotten. It’s been a busy, busy year — the busiest damn year in Chicago beer ever, we merit. And it’s been a lot of fun keeping up with it.
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Chicago Craft Beer Almanac 2013 – The Year in Beer

Holy hell, has it been a busy year in beer.

Beer Logo_FontChange

Not just for beer, but for us here at the GDB desk as well. The Saveur nom. The Chicago Magazine cover piece. Starting all that shit about “girl beer”. Oh, and one of us had a kid, too. That’s kind of important, right? (Little Julia already has some cellared beer, including a Westy, set aside for her 21st b-day. Dad of the year, right there.)

So without further ado, let’s see where the hell we’ve been in the last 12 months or so. Behold, our Chicago Craft Beer Almanac for 2013, the biggest year in Chicago beer news (since last year, which you can remind yourself of here)!

Here we go: Continue reading

Adventures in CellarSitting Review: Bell’s Special Double Cream Stout

Bell’s says:

“Special Double Cream Stout derives its name from its smooth, creamy texture, not the ingredients. Completely dairy-free, this stout blends eight different specialty malts to yield a remarkable depth of flavor. With only a touch of burnt notes, Special Double Cream Stout focuses on the softer, cocoa & espresso-like aspects of roasted malt.”

Bell’s Special Double Cream Stout
Stout, 6.1% ABV

TBK-BCBS-BDCS1

(Editor’s Note: We began this “Adventure’s in CellarSitting” series when we began the site, to chronicle what happens to some of the most popular double IPA’s available when you cellar them. On purpose. Our hope was to prove that while, yes they are best when drank fresh, they can still taste pretty damn good with a few years on them. Past experiments include: Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree, Founders Devil Dancer and Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA.

This is our first attempt to step out of the taboo world of cellaring double IPA’s and in to the taboo world of cellaring a stout. Not an imperial stout, mind you, but a basic, run-of-the-mill stout. Below are the tasting notes for Bell’s Special Double Cream Stout fresh and after one year and two years in the cellar.) Continue reading

From The Cellar: Brasserie Duyck Jenlain Blonde

Brasserie Duyck says:

“Created in 2005, Jenlain Blonde, the worthy sibling of the illustrious Jenlain Ambrée, is a full-bodied beer in the great tradition of special blond beers.

Left to rest in the vat for several weeks, it matures slowly to release its full aroma and develop a fine and long-lasting head. Once filtered, it takes on a sparkling, golden hue and is best enjoyed chilled to between 6 and 8°C.”

Brasserie Duyck Jenlain Blonde
Biere de Garde, 7.5% ABV

IMG_0754
*This beer was provided by the brewer for the purpose of a review.

FRESH

Karl: I love surprises more than anything when it comes to beer, and this was one of the better surprises I’ve had it a long time. The French do so many good things with fermentation when it comes to grapes, so I had no reason not to suspect that this French brewery just spitting distance from Belgium wouldn’t do great things, but I just didn’t know what I was in for here. Straight from the twist of the cap, this beer was a fun one. Continue reading

Adventures In CellarSitting Review: Founders Devil Dancer

Founders says:

“When you dance with the Devil the Devil don’t change. You do. Massive in complexity, the huge malt character balances the insane amount of alphas used to create it. At an incredible 112 IBU’s it’s dry-hopped with a combination of ten hop varieties. This one can age with the best of them.”

Founders Devil Dancer
Imperial IPA, 12% ABV

Founders Devil Dancer
(Editors Note: We here it Guys Drinking Beer occasionally like to push the envelope of beer cellaring. IPA’s aren’t traditionally good candidates for the cellar. They are brewed to be puckeringly hoppy and, thus, designed to be enjoyed that way. But we thought it would be a fun experiment to see what happens to an overly hopped, high alcohol content Double IPA when it sits in the cellar for a year or more.
Below are the tasting notes for Founders Devil Dancer after one year, two years, three years and four years in the cellar.)

1 YEAR

Andrew: As you undoubtedly saw in our Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree side-by-side we like to take a somewhat unconventional approach by cellaring beers that aren’t typically cellared. In this installment we pit the 2009 Founder’s Devil Dancer up against the 2010 Founder’s Devil Dancer. Continue reading

Adventures in CellarSitting Review: Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree

Dark Horse Says:

Have you read the description for the regular Crooked Tree yet? Well this beer is almost the same just double the flavor and alcohol. We actually took the Crooked Tree recipe and doubled all of the ingredients except the water, just the way a DOUBLE should be made.

Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree IPA
Double IPA, 13.6% ABV

04_07_2010kbsvertical-008
(Editors Note: We here it Guys Drinking Beer occasionally like to push the envelope of beer cellaring. IPA’s aren’t traditionally good candidates for the cellar. They are brewed to be puckeringly hoppy and, thus, designed to be enjoyed that way. But we thought it would be a fun experiment to see what happens to an overly hopped, high alcohol content Double IPA when it sits in the cellar for a year or more. Below are the tasting notes for Dark Horse’s Double Crooked Tree after one year, two years, three years and four years in the cellar.)

Just for fun, prior to the epic Kentucky Breakfast Stout Breakdown, we decided to take a quick look at how the aging process affects one of the most gargantuan DIPA’s we’ve ever encountered.

The whopping 13.6% ABV catches up quick, meaning that you’ve only got a few scant moments before this monster of a beer kicks your brain out of its moorings and starts in on your liver. Thankfully we kept each sample to four ounces per bottle a piece due to distribution, so we think our brains were clear enough to get our notes straight.

Knowing of what they speak, Dark Horse even adds some cellaring notes to their own page, saying “Although this beer is as cool as “The Fonz” when first purchased, it gets really mellow and smooth with some age…you’ll notice the heavy caramel and malt flavors are trying to sneak past the hops.” That’s what they’ve found. But what about us? What do lowly beer tasters like us uncover? Here’s what: Continue reading

FOBAB in Photos, Because Words are Hard

This weekend the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild hosted their 11th annual Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer, or FOBAB. Dozens of brewers were on hand featuring all sorts of barrel-aged creations including stouts, porters and sours. Join us, won’t you, as we take you a beer-soaked photographic journey through FOBAB.

(Disclaimer: This is a rather short journey because barrel-aged beer)

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From The Cellar: New Glarus Unplugged Smoked Rye Ale 2011

New Glarus says:

“A bold rich smoky nose is created naturally with a blend of smoked malts from Bamberg, Germany and Chilton, Wisconsin as well as robust Wisconsin Rye. Special Ale yeast ferments this hazy deep amber brew in the bottle. This is a big smoked beer fermented with Turbinado sugar and appropriate for sipping slowly today.”

New Glarus Unplugged Smoked Rye Ale
Smoked Beer, 8.5% ABV

ngsmokedrye
(Editors note: We took a chance in cellaring the New Glarus Unplugged Smoked Rye Ale. Feel free to read through from fresh to the most recent review but if you’d like to jump around, be our guest, to read more about New Glarus’ Unplugged Smoked Rye Ale after one year and two years in the cellar.)

Ryan: You may notice that we have categorized this as a “Cellared Beer Review” and tagged it as a “Cellar Review.” And if you didn’t notice, well, now you know. Normally I would protest cellaring a smoked beer because I’d expect the smokiness to simply fade off leaving much of nothing behind. But I thought, with the addition of the Ale yeast  and the sugar used in the brew, it might be worth the experiment.

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From The Cellar: New Glarus Unplugged Abt 2010

New Glarus says:

“Flemish monks brewed the first Abt. A voluptuous temptress they named for their Monastery Abbot. Belgian Dark Candi Sugar encourages the decadence of rum, raisin dark chocolate and sherry like fruit tones to conspire happily in almost 20° Plato. Rich and full-bodied this is one to lie down or if you are bold enjoy now, but take your time – linger. This beer cries to be sipped and enjoyed.”

unpluggedabt
New Glarus Unplugged abt
Dubbel, 9.75% ABV

(Editors note: we’ve squirreled away enough New Glarus Unplugged Abt from 2010 to review it every year or so to see how it is developing, aging and changing. Feel free to read through from fresh to the most recent review but if you’d like to jump around, be our guest, to read more about New Glarus’ Unplugged Abt after one year, two years and three years in the cellar.)

FRESH

Karl: Last time we reviewed a New Glarus in the Unplugged series, I mentioned that it seems that we do fawn all over everything that NG puts out with red foil wrapping the neck. Without giving too much away, we’ll break that streak here. The Abt is not a terrible beer, it just suffers from the weight of raised expectations and isn’t quite as spot-on as other Unplugged efforts like the recently reviewed Enigma (which we…well, fawned over). Continue reading