Ten feet from The Bruery’s Black Tuesday barrel rack house doors, one can smell the angel’s share seeping through the cracks as it heads out to the heavens above. Once inside, the dimly lit room is like a boozy still-life art installation. Barrels sit on racks stacked high, slowly seeping black barrel candy stalactites from small wood cracks. Micro-evaporation takes place through swollen staves of charred white oak pores. The massive Imperial Stout inside marinates on the barrel’s previous tenant, bourbon, America’s indigenous spirit.
Among the barrels, inhaling deep enough might just be as euphoric as drinking the finished product. Booze marinated oak is quite possibly one of the ten best smells in the world. It’s indescribably woody without smelling like a forest, or even a lumber yard after a fresh rain. It seriously causes goosebumps, and never gets old.
Quietly aging inside the several hundred bourbon barrels lies this year's vintage of Black Tuesday, a beer named after the biggest stock market crash in United States history. With a beer that tastes this great, why such a horrible name?
July 1, 2008: What started as a ‘kitchen sink’ Imperial Stout where brewers use up specialty ingredients laying around turned into calamity, where a leaky pump and a stuck piece of equipment sent hot liquid spewing all over the place, burning the skin of brewers who were working well past twelve hours on the stubborn beer. A two-inch moat of hot wort and sticky grains filled the two-month old Bruery, and everything that could have gone wrong did.
What liquid survived, The Bruery condemned to bourbon barrels for fifteen months, no doubt keeping the cursed beer from causing any more harm. After all that time sitting in bourbon-soaked solitary confinement, one would expect the beer to come out squinty-eyed and well behaved. But on release day, October 3, 2009, it would have its last laugh, as the number of people in line exceeded the bottles for sale. At $30 a bottle and a three bottle limit, those lucky enough to get some were incredibly lucky.
The beer that came out was incredible. Rave reviews on Beer Advocate topped 99 out of 100. Beer geeks all over the U.S. traded bottles like stock market commodities. Some even sold upwards of ten times the value on the black market. I recall my first taste as a game changer, having never tasted anything so delightful, yet strong at the same time.
Every year differs slightly, some being boozier than others. Although Black Tuesday is incredibly easy to drink for being around 20% alcohol by volume, it’s sort of like beer dessert, where you only want a taste, but end up downing the whole thing. As a Russian Imperial Stout, It’s decadent and rich, pouring coffee black with a surprising amount of tan head for a beer that strength. On the nose, a parfait of caramel, toffee, vanilla, American oak, and bourbon rush from the glass, this time not burning anyone. The flavor continues that indulgent sweetness, adding a bit of chocolate and a kiss of anise and bourbon. The beer is surprisingly dry for its big stature, where most of the perceived sweetness is derived from alcohol, which is inherently sweet on its own.
Find The Bruery’s Black Tuesday online on its eighth release after the last Tuesday of October, Black Tuesday.
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