Blue Collar Brew Review – Classic and rare beer tasting


Saturday night was a special occasion for yours truly and other homebrew club members. Jason, one of the members, was quitting his job and will take a year and a half off to roam a bunch of countries in Europe. Before he left, he wanted to unload/share many of the beers he has collected over the years with some of the other members.


Jason brought about 35 bottles, mostly bombers, of rare, big beers of different vintages. What I’ve done below is sort of a “live blog” in the aftermath. Festivities started at 6 pm. I brought along my 6-year-old trusty MacBook and kept a running log, as it were as to what beers we would be sampling.

Glasses were set out with a one-ounce line marked on them. When most of the people arrived, the caps started to pop. Here’s a rundown of what was imbibed on this special night.


First up was a bomber of 2011 Bourbon County Coffee Stout. The aroma coming off of the meager ounce was awesome. Deep dark roasted notes, a little coffee, some chocolate and a slug of alcohol. All 14%. This first sip made me wonder how far I’d last into the remaining samples of 34 bottles of beer on the wall.

tasting-03Next was a 2011 Bourbon County Bramble Rye at 12.7%. Yo! Raspberry and blackberry and a tad bit of dark malts. Nice and smooth.

2010 LaRoja from Jolly Pumpkin 7.2%. A trip into the world of sour beer. Not too tart but enough to give you a mini-pucker.

Another 2010 Bourbon County Stout variety, this one being the Vanilla at 13%. Rumor has it that this beer will not be made again. Man, the vanilla really smoothed out the overall taste bring the dark malts right to the front. Big alcohol taste.

A 2010 bottle of Bourbon County Stout classified as Rare right on the label. This one was bottle # 11685. It’s another 13%-er. Getting pounded with these dark roasted malts with that taste of alcohol mixed in. Surprisingly smooth, though.

A change of pace. Two Founders beers called Blushing Monk, one dated 2011 (9.2%), the other 2007 (12.3%.) Belgian style ale flavored with pure raspberries. Fruit right into the nose. Huge mouth puckering raspberry flavor. Almost juice like. The ’07 vintage lost some of its berry taste and upped the tartness.

Juliet ’09 from Goose Island. Upon opening the bomber, the foam flew out like a spring-loaded snake. The taste was sour and sharp. A paltry 6.7%. Really, really bubbly. And tart. Juliet from 2010 was just as sour but a little mellower if that’s at all possible.

tasting-04Then came the first bottle of Dark Lord, vintage 2011 Pappy Van Winkle (touted as the best bourbon in the world.) This was a bottle won with the scratch-off ticket. Labeling on the bottle revealed nothing o the ABV or the flavor. Great aroma and nicely sweet. Ridiculously smooth. Similar to Bourbon County Stout but a bit smoother. Not like the 2012 version which I found superb with the chocolate-cherry flavors.


A highlight of the night… a vertical tasting of Dark Lord ’09 to ’12. It was as if I died and went to heaven. Started with ’12 with the red wax. Just like I remembered it. Great notes of cherries and chocolate. The ’11 in the yellow wax lost the cherries but the underlying massive flavors were still there. A little coffee flavor crept in. Still unbelievably smooth. ’10 with the green wax: more sweetness lost but the dark roasted flavors were much bolder. Massively tasty. The ’09 with the white wax strted to dwell into a different taste realm. Still really tasty but a little rougher or roastier in the malts.

Changing styles again, we went to GI’s Madame Rose Belgian sour from ’10 9 (7.1%.) In spite of the cherries shown on the label most of the taste of this beer was tart and sour with a tinge of cherry.

Back to the old style, was Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout or CBS. (10.6%) This one from ’11. Toned down roastiness with a hint of maple. Subtly sweet and nicely roasted. There was a certain earthiness about the taste.

Another track to follow, into the world of barleywines. Goose Island’s King Henry from 2011 at 13.4%. Huge taste on this beer. Roaming into the world of dark, red fruits. The taste was incredible. It was sad when I herd that this beer will never be made again. The best I’ve tasted.

Founders Curmudgeon’s Better Half (11.9%, an old ale) from 2012. Different taste entirely. Perhaps a little fruity and not so dark in the glass or in the mouth. Sweeter tasting and less heavy than most old ales and deliciously drinkable.

As the one-ounce glassfuls get downed and all the opinions are discussed, the ambient decibel level of the general gathering goes up about 3 or 6 db. The good time is starting to spread.

GI’s Lolita from ’11. More raspberries but even more sour. I wondered why do I subject myself to this diverse swing of flavors. Oh wait. Because beer. Yeah, that’s it.

3F’s Baller Stout anniversary beer from 2011. Smooth and more subdued than any of the other stouts this evening. Delicious in a different way. BA rates this at 13.8% and I couldn’t taste one atom of alcohol in this beer.

Another switch track with a beer from New Glarus. This one is a gueze and will be my very first taste of this style. Sour, but a different kind of sour. The term being bandied about in the crowd is “funky sour.” Way out of my taste realm.

tasting-06It’s starting to sleet out and the crowd is thinning out. But we still have a decent representation of beer geeks and I’m still at the keyboard pounding one handed.

The pendulum swings back the other way with an ounce of 2012 Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout (11.2%.) Both the aroma and the taste had overtones of coffee. Nicely smooth. A nice drinking beer. Then KBS from 2010. More dark taste, a little sweeter and very tasty. Better than the ’12 and still at 11.2%.

Bourbon County Stout 2012. Smooth dark and roasty with a big alcohol overtone. Something to wary of considering it for purchase. 2011 followed up next for a comparison. Mellower with a tad more sweetness. Still dark and roasty. Delicious. Bourbon County ’09… seriously mellower and smooth. Decidedly the best of the three.

Coming out late is Nemesis from Founders from 2010. A wheat wine with a decidedly different taste. The first beer of the night with a hint of hops. Nicely different. Label said 100 IBUs and 12%.


Winding down toward the end of the late evening, we all conversed about how lucky we were to have participated in this once in a lifetime experience. Big bold beers, some of which will never be be brewed again were sipped and immensely enjoyed. Perhaps a little overkill on the stouts and the sours, but a true experience nonetheless. I was honored to be asked to participate. Thanks were heaped profusely on Jason as people left to start their cars and make their way home in difficult weather.

That Jason… he’s a helluva guy.


This entry was posted in beer, Brew Review, opinion. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Blue Collar Brew Review – Classic and rare beer tasting

  1. Jeff says:

    Aww man, what a killer experience!

Comments are closed.