Beer Man

Beer Calendar: Black Friday Brings Out an Endless Number of Dark and Barrel-Aged Beers

Once upon a time (a few years ago), craft-beer lovers looked forward to Black Friday, not because of the sales and Christmas shopping, but because it was the day that Chicago's Goose Island Beer Company released its Bourbon County Brand Stout — one of the most delicious, most sought-after beers in America. Then, when the brewery began selling this rare beer in Denver for the first time, the frenzy at liquor stores began to equal that rush for TVs and toys at Walmart (well, not quite).

But times have changed. Although Goose Island was purchased by Anheuser Busch Inbev ( the makers of Bud Light Lime) back in 2011, some beer fans have now decided to eschew Bourbon County Brand Stout because of AB InBev's buying spree (it now owns nine formerly craft breweries) and anti-craft-beer practices. And although Goose Island still puts out Bourbon County Stout — and several variants — on Black Friday, many people no longer buy it, because they don't like the association with AB InBev. In addition, some of the beers were infected last year, prompting a recall and refund from the brewery. Falling Rock Tap House even plans to tap its last keg of BCBS from last year as a way to "say goodbye to the beer overlords," like AB InBev — and will donate the proceeds to the Colorado Brewers Guild.

In the meantime, local breweries have seized on Black Friday as a good day to release barrel-aged and special beers of their own. Station 26, which opened in 2013, was one of the first to get on board, with its Dark Star Imperial Stout. But numerous other breweries are putting their best feet forward. You will find no fewer than twenty releases below, and those are only some of what is going on.

Now, here are this week's craft-beer events.

Wednesday, November 23
Fiction Beer Company doesn't want to wait until Friday to release a dark barrel-aged beer, so it is releasing bottles of Barrel Aged Zembla today at 5 p.m. "The folks at Laws Whiskey House provided an amazing oak barrel freshly emptied of Secale, their Rye Whiskey. We immediately filled this barrel with Zembla, our baltic porter," the brewery says. "The result is a balanced blend of spicy rye with a crisp roast character and a slight cherry raisin finish. A beer perfectly staged to drink now or be aged for years to come." Availability is limited to three 500-ml bottles per customer, at $14.99 each.

Strange Craft Beer Company will tap its Sweet Potato Green Chili Ale in honor of Thanksgiving. The seasonal favorite comes in at 5 percent ABV.

Join Copper Kettle Brewing for the 2016 bottle release of Snowed In, a 13 percent ABV oatmeal stout with notes of coffee and chocolate, aged in Breckenridge Bourbon barrels for four months. Snowed In will be available on cask, served cold-brew-coffee style with nitro froth on top to give it an extra-creamy body.

Every fourth Wednesday, from 6 to 9 p.m., Black Shirt Brewing teams up with Shauna of the Long I Pie Shop for a beer-and-pie pairing. Today's pairings are: Sweet Potato Ginger with Colorado Red Ale; Spiced Apple Cranberry with Semitone Saison; Salted Honey Lavender with Pistachio and Lavender Red Rye; and Bourbon Chocolate Pecan with Chai Red Porter. The price is $20 per person; no advance tickets needed.

Comrade Brewing will tap Beech Blonde today at opening. The brewery describes the 5.4 percent ABV beer as "a crisp and refreshing golden ale with a touch of beechwood-smoked malt."

Thursday, November 24
Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 25
"Put down the shopping bags and join us for another bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stout journey," says Station 26 Brewing, which releases its Dark Star Imperial Stout and several variants every year on this day. The 2016 version, at 13 percent ABV, was aged in bourbon barrels for tens months. It will also be sold in bottles, along with two variants: German Chocolate BBA Dark Star Imperial Stout and Salted Caramel BBA Dark Star Imperial Stout. These will be on tap, too, along with several other versions, including: 2015 BBA Dark Star, Coffee BBA Dark Star, Mexican Chocolate BBA Dark Star, Chai BBA Dark Star, Root Beer Float BBA Dark Star, S'mores BBA Dark Star (served with a toasted marshmallow), Manhattan BBA Dark Star (served with a Luxardo cherry), and Elvis BBA Dark Star (served with a bacon-rimmed glass).

Falling Rock Tap House will tap its last keg of Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout, from 2015, at 2 p.m., and donate the proceeds to the Colorado Brewers Guild. "Help us say Buh-Bye to the Beer Overlords! The overlords built one of their faux-craft outlets down the street, so, in keeping with our normal policy, Hasta la Vista Baby!," Falling Rock says about the fact that Goose Island is now owned by Anheuser Busch InBev. "After we dispose of this, we will have plenty of great stuff on from craft brewers from all over the United States and other great brewing places in the World."

Spangalang Brewing will host its first-ever bottle release today: Nightwalker Con Alma, an Imperial Stout re-fermented with Tempranillo grape juice in red-wine barrels. There are only about seventy 750 ml bottles, though, so get there early.

Cerebral Brewing debuts a brand-new beer, Ancient Ruins, today. This 9 percent ABV imperial chocolate stout was brewed with chocolate malts, cacao husks and Haitian cacao nibs from Cultura Craft Chocolate. The brewery will also tap small amounts of three variants, Blackberry Ancient Ruins, Sea Salt and Orange Zest Ancient Ruins, and Toasted Coconut Ancient Ruins. Cerebral's Nightglow, a robust American porter, also makes a return to the tap list.

Baere Brewing will be releasing two bottles and tapping three different variations of its Table Sour today. The bottles are: Palisade Peach Table Sour, a kettle-soured beer with Baere's house lactobacillus culture and fresh Palisade peaches; and Saison Batch 2, which won a GABF bronze medal. The brewery will tap Palisade Peach Table Sour, Blackberry Table Sour, and Black Currant Table Sour.

Fiction Beer Company is bringing the dark today by tapping five dark beers, including Feely Effects and bourbon-barrel-aged Malice & Darkness. Pavy's food truck will be serving up sandwiches.

Last January, Factotum Brewhouse released the wintry Cranberry Cream Ale, a cream ale infused with unsweetened cranberries, for a slightly tart taste, with guest brewers Chris MacDermaid and Trupti Suthar. But the brewery held some of the beer back and aged it in a Chardonnay barrel for nine months before bottling it. The result will be pouring today.

Comrade Brewing brings back Quit Stalin Russian Imperial Stout today. Brewed with Chinook, Azacca and a generous late addition of Centennial hops, the 10 percent ABV beer "pours pitch black with a dark tan head... aroma of toffee and chocolate dominate, lightly sweet, full-bodied and smooth on the palate with a subtle smoky finish and just enough bitterness to balance out the malt sweetness." Oh, and shhhh, but there might be some flavored variants of Quit Stalin coming next month.

Ursula Brewing will tap its limited-edition Pinot Noir barrel-aged golden sour, Évoluer, available only in the taproom for $15 per bottle. "This bright, dry beer has notes of lactic and stone fruit in the nose with just a hint of Brett funk and a soft touch of tartness," the brewery says. "A sip brings in a peach sweet-tart flavor that we think marries well with the oak tannins and grape-skin character the barrel imparts."

Epic Brewing will tap a special firkin at noon today of its new Big Bad Baptista (Big Bad Baptist, but with Mexican coffee) aged with bacon and smoked sea salt. And for sour-beer lovers, the brewery will tap a small amount of the newest beer in its Sour Brainless series, Sour Pineapple. "The intense and complex sour character of this beer is developed in oak foeders containing select cultures of lactobacillus, pediococcus and wild yeast. The process is slow and delicate, regularly taking a year or more. Once our brewers have decided it’s ready, we blend the soured beer into hand-selected oak barrels with fresh pineapple puree, where it undergoes additional sour fermentation and aging," the brewery says.

Find many, many more Black Friday tappings on page two, after the break.