This is a special time of year to give thanks with family and friends. However, there is only so much smalltalk one person can manage before they get a bit stir-crazy. Luckily, as Urban Growler aways says, “We’re beer for you!” On Black Friday, Urban Growler Brewing Company is having a bottle release party for their barrel-aged Imperial Porter. The event goes from 11am-11pm in the taproom. There will be a wonderful Turkey Day-themed flight (Leftovers Brown Ale, Rum Barrel Porter, Black Licorice Black Ale, a Black Sour, and a Black Cherry Stout), bottles of the incredibly de-lovely beer for sale, and one of the best places to gather around a pint in Saint Paul.
Roll Out The Barrel
This year’s version of the barrel-aged Imperial Porter is aged in a Buffalo Trace Bourbon barrel. I will let that set in for a second as you openly weep glorious tears of joy. Buffalo Trace is a wonderful Bourbon and a personal favorite of mine. When Liz Foster told me that this illustrious spirit barrel would be the home for one of my top 25 beers of 2017 (#20), I believe I attempted to defy gravity and do a summersault. When I came to and began icing my elbow, I started thinking about how a beer I loved already was potentially going to be kicked up to 11.
Drinking Barrel-Aged Beer In The Barrel Room
I know what you are thinking-that’s so meta. On November 16th, I met Liz Foster, Urban Growler’s Events & Communications Manager, at the brewery to enjoy a taste of this beer. We got a pitcher of beer directly from the tank as it shot out like a firehose. We retreated to the barrel room so I could take pictures and have a few sips to compliment the fantastic conversation. If you haven’t met Liz, you are certainly missing out. She is one of the most generous people when it comes to her time and friendship. She is a perfect ambassador of the pathos of Urban Growler and who they are as a company.
I snap some pictures while letting the beer warm up in the appropriate tulip glass. There are perfect moments in life, little snippets within our days, that are easy to miss if we aren’t paying attention. This was one of them. Between the setting, company, and the beer, I realize that I have much to be thankful for.
The beer’s aroma has chocolate, dark fruits-raisin, plum, and dark cherry, and a perfect amount of the barrel. The beer drinks a little above a medium bodied beer due to the nature of the style. Flavors are laden with rich dark chocolate, a hint of tartness from the dark fruit notes, and a wonderful Bourbon note. There is no question that they aged this beer perfectly.
2017 VS 2018
If, by some miracle, you had the self-control to save a bottle of last year’s Barrel Series release, I urge you to do a side-by-side comparison. You will want to have a friend or two to help you with this. If you do it on a weekend, I can clear my schedule to help. For me, this year’s Bourbon presence is more pronounced and in the forefront.
I think that this beer is so perfect right now that I would caution you on aging it. Sure, due to its 11% ABV, it the right cellar conditions it would age, but you will definitely lose some of that barrel presence. I must tip my cap to everyone who had a part in putting this beer together because it is fantastic.
It can be enjoyed fresh from the taps starting on Black Friday at the brewery. There are bottles for sale at $15.00 a piece (limit of 2). For $15, this beer is an incredible value and would make a wonderful holiday gift for that beer geek in your life.
So, on Black Friday, rather than succumbing to the materialistic orgy of chip card readers and bad parking jobs, avoid the malls and head to Urban Growler. Trade in avarice, greed, and close quarters with folks who still reek of sage from the dressing for a great meal with splendid beers in an atmosphere where all are truly welcome. Prost and Happy Thanksgiving.