Monday, February 23, 2015

Seventeen – Central Waters Brewing Co.

                Like Sixteen last week, Seventeen is an Anniversary beer released by Central Waters.  As with Sixteen, Seventeen is aged in bourbon barrels and, like Sixteen before it, a relatively small release with the initial push being at the Anniversary party on Saturday January 24th, 2015.  Tickets, which came with the option to purchase up to 8 bottles of Seventeen sold out fast, which isn’t surprising because the Central Waters Anniversary release is quickly becoming one of the can’t miss beer events in the country.  I love seeing the success and wide respect a great Wisconsin brewery is obtaining on a national scale and I would put a beer from the Central Waters barrel program up against any other barrel aged beer in the country, it really is that great!

                Unable to make the Anniversary party, I thought I had missed my chance to get a bottle of Seventeen this year, fortunately after some trading I was able to land two bottles of this year’s release.  As I mentioned, I am a huge fan of the Central Waters barrel aged beers and had to try a fresh bottle before laying the other one down in my cellar to await a vertical pour once I have the Eighteen release next January.  I’m hoping that there will still be a few bottles of Seventeen left at the brewery the next time I drive up north so that I can pick up a few more for future consumption so that I don’t have to be so guarded with my one remaining bottle.

                I would love to go into the artistry that is barrel aging, and had I not covered it in my post on Sixteen which literally just went up this past week, I would delve into it again.  However, if you read my Sixteen post you likely aren’t interested in reading the same material again, but if you are please refer to my earlier post.  One thing is for sure though, Central Waters certainly excels at the art, and they will undoubtedly get even better at it each and every year.

                On to the review…

They Say:

                Seventeen is the product of blending two different bourbon barrel aged stouts to achieve a beer worthy of its forerunners.  Barrel aging and blending is an art form, and we like to think we get better at it year by year.  Happy Anniversary!

I Say:

                Seventeen pours a deep, opaque black with a moderately thick, creamy mocha colored head.  The head holds very good retention (~5 min) before fading to leave a thick collar around the edges of the glass, although surprisingly the collar leaves little lacing behind.  Coffee leads in the aroma taking on chocolate notes to become mocha-like.  Notes of vanilla and a strong bourbon character add depth in the middle of the aroma.  A slight hint of wood, vanilla, and toasted marshmallows from the barrel blend wonderfully with dark chocolate in the finish.

                Dark Chocolate and bourbon lead in the flavor when Seventeen is cold out of the bottle.  Smooth, almost silky, malts bring notes of mocha, vanilla, dark chocolate that become more evident as the beer warms in the glass and the bourbon becomes more restrained.  The finish has notes of coffee and sweet, warming alcohol.  As Seventeen warms closer to room temperature, the bourbon notes become more prevalent again, with notes of mocha lingering in the finish.  Seventeen is a very malty beer, with what could be a considerable malty sweetness nicely mellowed out by oak and bourbon from the barrel aging.  Full bodied, with a moderate level of carbonation, this is a wonderfully silky smooth beer with a slight alcohol bite.

                Barrel aging is an art and once again, Central Waters has shown a level of mastery over that art, although they would likely say they are still in the process of learning the intricacies of barrel aging.  At the start of this post I mentioned that I would put the Central Waters Barrel program up against any other barrel program in the country, and this remarkable release reaffirms that belief.  Seventeen, while not as rare as some, is an excellent beer and should easily pull in some big trades, if you are into that.  If you can get your hands on a bottle, drink it immediately, if you can get your hands on two, lay the second one down for a year.  If you were at the release and picked up the full allotment of eight bottles then quite frankly, I am very jealous; please send some my way ;).

                That’s all for today, check back again soon for another review!

                Happy Drinking, and remember to always Drink Wisconsinbly!

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