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Friday, April 25, 2014

Begyle Brewing's BA Maybe Next Year 2014

  • Style: Barrel Aged Brown Ale
  • ABV: 9.0%
  • Ease to locate: Ain't gonna happen unless you have access to a Delorean and a Flux Capacitor (or know of someone who happens to have a bottle).  Begyle  barrel aged a gross or so of this 2013 brown ale and it pretty much sold out in a matter of days.  However, there was a two bottle limit, so it's possible that some one could be sitting on an extra bottle.  Make some friends and find out
  • Color: Dark, cola brown with amber highlights.
  • Head: One finger light beige head that falls to a ring. Spotty & slight lacing
  • Aroma: Do you like good bourbon?  Excellent, because that's the dominant scent here (and if you aren't a fan, maybe you should rethink the whole BA prefix thing.).  There's also some lighter notes of caramel, brown sugar and a sort of sharpness that comes from spirits.  
  • Mouthfeel: Medium body with good carbonation.  I's a barrel aged brown ale, not a stout and has the body to prove it
  • Finish: A little deceptive, you tricky Begyle guys you.  It felt short at first, but then the bourbon note sneaks back onto your palate and lingers.  I found it a bit hot for my taste, but not enough to hurt the beer 
  • Food friendly?: Eh, this feels like an after dinner short of drink to me.  The bourbon darkness is strong with this one.  I'd be curious to see if it mellows as it ages. It could possibly pair nicely with a mild, yet slightly sweet sweet, sort of desert.  I'd love to try it with a moist & chewy banana bread.  

Apple User's Link:  We take our sports just as seriously as we take our beer here in Chicago

Steve Goodman gets to the heart of what it means to be a Cubs fan.  While it may be appropriate to listen to this song with an Old Style in hand, I give you my permission to hold the Chicago beer of your choice instead. 

I'm a Cubs fan.  I bleed Cubbie blue.  I've spend many a sun baked afternoon in the left field bleachers. Onion water soaked hot dog in one hand with a rally hat perched defiantly on top of my head.  Because, as much as it kills me to admit it, we Cubs fans are walking talking stereotypes of the very image of a perpetually under achieving sports franchise.   We're can't even lament that the Cubs are always the bridesmaid, never the bride.  Hell, most of the time we're the team that doesn't even make it past the kids table.  Eternally optimistic with our rally cry of "Wait until next year!" Always disappointed that our "next year" never seems to come.  And, between you and me and the fencepost, I kind of like that about us.  So, in honor of the 100 year birthday of my favorite baseball team, win or lose, I recently cracked open a very special bottle of Begyle Brewing's Barrel Aged Maybe Next Year Brown Ale.

Last Autumn, right around the time that the Cubs were once again breaking the collective hearts of Northside Chicagoans everywhere, Begyle socked away some of their Maybe Next Year brown ale in bourbon barrels.  The plan, as I understand it, was much like one made by the Cubs' own management.  Let the product rest over a long winter break and see what developed the next April.  And, at least for Begyle's good fortune, this wait and see plan worked out well for one of them.  My BA Maybe Next Year 2014 poured a dark brown, sort of cola colored beer.  I spied soft amber highlights when held to a light source. I wasn't expecting the over abundance of carbonation that greeted me in the glass, but I didn't feel that it deterred from the drink at all.  I'm just not used to having so much fizz in a barrel aged beer.  The one finger, light beige head fell rather quickly (something that I am used to in a BA beer) to a solid ring of bubbles.  The lacing was very spotty, shallow and delicate.   Again, this is par for the course for a BA brown ale and didn't surprise me in the least.  The nose was predominately made up of the bourbon note.  Strong is too simple of a word to describe the aroma.  I could still detect the bournon character from the beer as I placed my snifter down on a table;e in front of me.    I'm pretty sure that I cold also smell my brother's glass of beer halfway across the room too.  And again, I'm so not complaining about this.  Upon closer inspection, I could also make out some notes of sweet caramel and slightly burnt brown sugar on the nose too.  The taste was rather similar to the nose in as the bourbon flavor was the highlight of the mouthful.  Again, there was the burnt brown sugar and caramel sweetness, but I also could taste an oaky wooden note buried under the stronger layers.   An ever so slight hint of vanilla balanced out the sweetness nicely. I like a beer that knows what it is and this certainly fit that bill.  The mouthfeel was medium and pretty much what you would expect a brown ale to possess.  The finish though, I absolutely loved the finish.  At first I was disappointed as the sweetness fell short and disappeared.  But those tricky manipulators over at Begyle were obviously just messing with me (sort of like how the Cubs often mess with their fans in early September by going on a winning streak just as it's almost too late to make the playoffs except as a black horse wild card.)  The sharp, a little bit hot for my taste, bourbon element rallied back to make a late appearance to linger on the finish.    I have to wonder if this heat might mellow with a bit more age.  It makes me wish that I had saved a second bottle to cellar and revisit in another six months.  

Begyle Brewing's BA Maybe Next Year 2014 is a very bourbon forward flavored brown ale.  I usually prefer to sip my bourbon, very slowly, after dinner.   If I absolutely had to pair this ale with food, I could see a moist and not too sweet quick bread, such as a slice of a Classic Banana Bread,  playing nicely with the taste and texture of this barrel aged brown ale.  Alternatively, an Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce could also pair well with this beer, the buttery caramel topping echoing the caramel vanilla aspect of the ale.  It's entirely possible that more food pairs might come to mind once the bottle has had a chance to mature and mellow a bit with more age on it.  I'm hoping that since Begyle purposely labeled this beer with the year 2014 printed very clearly on their classy and minimal label, I might have a chance to revisit this brown ale again in the coming years.  In any case, this is (to my knowledge at least) the second barrel aged offering from Begyle's fledgling and promising barrel age program.  I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with next (QUAD!  I WANT A BEGYLE QUAD!) No pressure.  (BUT I REALLY NEED A QUAD PLEASE!)   This is the sort of beer that I would crack open in the company of like minded friends while consolidating over yet another heartbreaking loss in the 9th and dreaming fervently about the day when we can once again call our beloved Cubbies the World Series Champions.  Ah well, maybe next year.