Gravity Well 2018 Sneak-Peek
As sure as junior high kids act like the sky is falling when they see the first snowflakes blowing through a blustery Minnesotamorn, Insight Brewing Company celebrates another year with barrel-aged goodness known as Gravity Well. While the excitement surrounding the release of this cellar-staple stout is always up to 11, there are some significant differences to note about this year’s batch of goodies.
Gravity Well is always aged for a year before being released. However, 2018 will be the first time that each of the five variants are barrel-aged. Moving forward, every bottle of Gravity Well will be barrel-aged! If that gets your hamster running on the wheel, then prepare to make the jump to lightspeed because next year there will be a 2-year aged Gravity Well! Another fun fact about this year’s release is that there will be 5 variants. Let that sink in for a second. Five variants mean that Co-Founder Ilan Klages-Mundt and Head Brewer Matt Anhalt get to flex their creative muscles with both flavors and aromas in this legendary beer.
These bottles will be available for sale at Insight on Saturday, November 17th starting at 2pm. The oak-aged bottles of Gravity Well will be sold for $20.00, Bourbon and Scotch for $23.00, and maple and Cognac for $25.00 each. You will have to bring cash or credit and leave the bitcoins at home. Last Monday, I got a sneak-peek at these 5 different beers and I will start by saying that aside from 2 years ago when they had a blended barrel-aged Scotch variant, this year’s crop of Gravity Well is the best, by far. So, here we go into the deep dive into the 2018 Gravity Well experience.
This beer has been around 10.5% ABV in the past. This year, they kicked it up a notch to 11%. I am not sure if they got an advanced look at the Farmer’s Almanac and saw this winter was going to be extra miserable or what. I can tell you that none of the variants come off as hot or too strong. My advice is to drink them now because they have already been aged for a year.
Oak-Aged Gravity Well
Oak-aged Gravity Well is the first variant we taste for the preview, and I am impressed by the aromas of dark chocolate and molasses. This Gravity Well variant is a blend of a Rum barrel-aged beer and 2 different Bourbon barrels. The flavors are a wonderful combination of dark fruits, a little hint of red wine, and vanilla. The finish is on the drier side of things with an aftertaste of dark chocolate. For being just a regular oak-aged beer, this is splendid. Since its inception, Gravity Well’s chewy and robust body has always been a favorite of mine. For $20 a bottle, this beer is an absolute steal.
Cognac Barrel Gravity Well
These barrels are as fresh as can be which benefits the beer in a fantastic way. As a rule of thumb, Head Brewer Matt explains the importance of getting the beer in the barrels as fast as possible. The flavors in this beer are sublime-a highlight being the rich essence of a Nigella Lawson-made chocolate cake. This is liquid decadence. There is a bit of sweetness that was described by Alcohol By Volume’s Paige Latham Didora as wildflower honey. Paige’s palate is leaps and bounds ahead of mine, and once she said it out loud, my palate caught up and recognized it. What jumps out to me about the Cognac variant is how light it is on the palate. There is no heaviness despite it being somewhat chewy. This was my favorite of the five variants of Gravity Well.
Maple Barrel Gravity Well
If you want to rankle the hackles of a Canadian, try to get them debating who does the best maple syrup. My friend, Rick Didora, hails from our neato neighbors to the North settled that debate quite succinctly when he quipped, “Quebec makes the best maple syrup and everybody knows it; suck it Vermont.” This barrel had a journey that makes Frodo’s jaunt from the shire nothing more than a trip to a friend’s house across The Shire. First, it housed Heaven Hill Bourbon for five years. Then, it was filled with Wisconsin maple syrup before it succumbed to the squatter’s rights of Gravity Well. Of all the variants that Insight made this year, the maple variant is smallest quantity. The maple flavor is subtle at first and becomes amplified in the finish. I love that it is more of an accent and does not taste at all artificial.
Bourbon Barrel Gravity Well
Bourbon Barrels, in my opinion, are the perfect vessels for aging a well-made stout. The bourbon barrel variant of Gravity Well is sensational. This variant has a pleasing vanilla aroma and melodious flavors of coffee, fig, and a slight bit of vanilla. I think that bourbon lovers will enjoy this beer because it is smoother than Lando Calrissian on a Wet Banana.
Scotch Barrel Gravity Well
I will say that when it comes to Scotch, I am still learning what flavor profile I prefer. However, I do know that I am not a huge fan of the smokier Scotches because they come off as tasting like an emulsified Duraflame Log. The Scotch barrel variant of Gravity Well is comprised of non-peated Scotch barrels from Jim Beam and Laphroaig barrels. The smokiness is present and accounted for in the nose. The flavors consist of molasses, dark chocolate, and an earthiness that reminds me of a really nice pipe tobacco. The smoke in the flavor is dialed back and not at all as aggressive as I thought it would be.
This time of year is expensive for fans of all things barrel-aged. Unless you are independently wealthy, you are like me and have to pick and choose which bottles you put on the shelf in your beer fridge. As a whole, these 2018 Gravity Well variants are the best that Insight has put out to date. They are unique enough in character that there is something that everyone can appreciate. Also, let’s be honest, at 25.00 for the specialty ones, you are getting a great value.
Matt Anhalt has done a masterful job of caring for these beers. His methods have been calculated and thoughtful. He also has put a significant amount of faith in the products themselves. Matt’s mantra for Gravity Well is always, “Trust the barrels, trust the process.” I am sure I speak for others when I say that the barrels and the process have been nothing short of amazing this year.
Insight Brewing A Trip Around The Sun- Saturday, November 17th from 2pm-10pm
If previous years are any indication, this is a party you don’t want to miss. A festive atmosphere complete with live bands. This year’s lineup features Pleezer (2:45), Rebel Queens (4:15), Val Son (5:45), Purple Fun Metropolis (7:15) , and Heatbox (8:45). If the music isn’t enough to feed your soul, there are going to be food trucks! Butcher Salt, Little G’s Mobile Pizzeria, Glam Doll Donuts, and J & D’s Foods will be there to keep you fed. Let’s be honest, these beers will need a base or you will wake up in Omaha wearing someone else’s pants. It promises to be a fantastic time to celebrate the release of Gravity Well, a fantastic beer. Prost!