I had never dreamed I would have the opportunity to taste so many awesome beers all in the same day.
A good friend of mine recently accepted a new job and unfortunately for me and the rest of his friends in Wausau he will be moving. As part of this move, Karl was discussing with me some time ago that he did not want to move such a large volume of beer from his cellar. Ergo he mentioned around the time of the rare beer festival that he would be hosting a Central Waters Anniversary bottle share. Frankly I was flattered to be invited since this is likely a once in a lifetime type of event.
Ben from Sconni’s was very gracious to allow the use of a private room. Karl had also invited Ben and Joe to join the event. All in all there were nine of us in attendance.
We started out the event with the anniversary beers, with the first bottle opened being the 16 and we followed in sequence finishing with 19. It was very interesting noting the differences between each sample. The 17 and 18 were closer in profile to each other, boozy, a tad thin, bourbon and Carmel type notes. The 16 and the 19 being similar to one another, chocolate, vanilla, oak, a bit smoother mouthfeel. I can’t speak for the whole concensus but my personal rankings, I would go 19, 16, 18, and 17 in order of taste/preference.
While I was not expecting it our next beer up was the famed Ardea Insignis. The rarest bird of the Central Waters portfolio of libations. I was quite pleased to get a larger pour than I received at the Rare Beer Festival. This time around was so much better than the first! The bourbon notes a very heavy. A good description of this beer is it is a very dark, super smooth Bourbon, with a heavier Stout finish. Outstanding.
Next up we sampled some more rarities from Central Waters! (I know, right, how many rare beers can one brewery possibly have!) We sampled ’14, ’15, & ’16 Black Gold. These bottles are very rare, typically limited to 1000-2000 bottles max. In the case of 2014 there were just 500 bottles available! We were sampling one of the few likely left in existence! Sampling these beers was rather different than the Anniversaries. For me the 2015 version was the winner hear followed by a near tie of the ’14 & ’16. The ’15 had a bit more chocolate notes and a little more depth in the flavor. In general, the Black Golds had a bit more heat from the alcohol and a bit more bitterness from the hops.
To Round out the Central Waters portion of the share we were able to taste through the new 3 year Rye Barrel Aged Imperial stout. Having mentioned this one a little while back I won;t spend too much time. However as fare as Rye Barrel aged stouts go this one is absolutely top notch. The barrel ads a nice layer of complexity to an already great stout.
As if the aforementioned beers were not enough of an event, many of us brought our own bottles to share as well! One of the first up was Buddy Shots from Cycle Brewing company. An imperial stout aged in Jameson Whiskey barrels. This stout was sweet yet was rather smooth, with notes of dried figs and raisins while being boozy on the nose.
Next up was T.O.R.I.S. the Tyrant. A triple stout brewed by the fine folks at Hoppin’ Frog Brewing. This beer was so amazingly thick, it was almost as if it were a slightly thinned molasses that coated my glass after drinking it. It had a much more roasty character to it than the others and would likely be good cellared for 3-5 years.
We also had the opportunity to sample a great sour beer from Wicked Weed. This is a bourbon barrel aged cherry sour. While I am not a big sour fan, this beer was very well done. Barrel notes, cherry, very complex yet slightly refreshing.
Another beer we were able to sample as we were nearing the end was a very good Farmhouse ale (Kollaborationsbier (Batch #3)). Special hat tip to Mike from the Beer for Brains blog for this anomaly from the venerable small batch and spontaneous fermentation brewers at Jester King. While nothing specific necessarily stood out with this one in particular, it was in general a great beer. One you could enjoy on a warm summer day. Knowing this was not one of their more famous brews and one of their baselines, it would be interesting to taste some of their more highly sought after wares.
Coming up on the penultimate bottle of the evening brings me to the Lost Abbey Veritas 017. I was impressed by how this one tasted. Tart blackberries giving way to a great effervescence. It was light yet very flavorful. I would recommend checking these guys out.
Finally, while it was not the last beer we tasted that evening it is the last in my roundup. I brought a 2012 Goose Island Big John. This is a big Imperial stout aged on cocoa nibs. The flavors included some dried fruit notes that give way to the obvious chocolate. While not a barrel aged beer it packs a wallop of flavor and depth, even at 5 years old. What is probably the most interesting fact about this beer is that it was one of the last produced prior to the AB-InBev buyout making it a true “craft” beer.
To close I want to offer up a special thanks to Karl for sharing his wonderful treasure of Central Waters beers with us that day. In addition I would like to thank Ben from Sconni’s Alehouse & Eatery for the venue and the other fine gentlemen who graciously shared their beers as well.