“Too Big” Syndrome and Other Thoughts on High ABV Beer

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As the marauding hordes of craft beer geeks attack local liquor stores for Bourbon County I sat quietly sipping on a 2013 vintage of Black Tuesday by The Bruery ignoring the fleeting desire to run like a chicken with my head cut off through the internet and BUY MORE CRAFT BEER!

And upon this momentous occasion of tasting Black Tuesday for the first time I came across the following thought: is high ABV beer helping us experience more beer? Maybe yes, but also maybe no.

High ABV beer seems to be a holy grail of the dark beer experience with booming flavor and uncharted flavor profiles in the labyrinth of barrel aging. For example Samaus and Mephistopheles by Avery, Black Tuesday and Sucre by The Bruery, and The End of History by Brew Dog all give us mammoth flavors that catapult us into the outer space of big beer. They have discovered the rare air of this. And for new flavor profiles I am all for it! The uncharted territory is incredible.

But during my 2013 vintage tasting of Black Tuesday I realized (this is also post Samaus, Mephistopheles, and Sucre see my Untapped to prove it) that I could not handle this beer if it had not been aged I would not have been able to handle the flavor profile! What happens when you age beer is that the harsh and sharp flavors round out to create the perfect easy coasting turns of malt forward beers. This was my experience completely with aging Black Tuesday. I remember also when I had Sucre for the first time that the astringency of the alcohol almost burned my mouth. The sugariness almost gave me heartburn like when I eat donuts!

Long story short I am a fan of high ABV beers.

Long story short, super psyched that I aged my high ABV beer.

Thus are high AVB beers helping the craft beer scene? Maybe yes because they push the boundaries of flavor and engineering in the brewing world. Maybe not because the astringency is burning my tastebuds and I am unable to enjoy this beer.

Whatever your preference think about your beer and the best way to enjoy it.

Until next time, pour proper my friends…

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