Photo by David Foxhoven

15 Beers for 15 Years: Our picks for Vail Big Beers and Barleywines

Last night, we spent close to an hour reading through this year’s Vail Big Beers and Barleywines program, which they released prior to the festival for the first time ever. This being the 15th year they’ve done this amazing festival, we decided to pick out our top-15 can’t miss beers.

Seems like everyone in the blogging world is thinking along the same lines… just this morning, we were perusing social media and came across Brewtally Insane‘s top-12 picks (Check them out here). There’s a couple overlaps, but with so many amazing beers available, we were happy to see that we didn’t pick the exact same!

2015-program-coverAs with Brewtally Insane’s post, (and to save time) all these descriptions come from Vail Big Beers and Barleywines Program. If you want to look for yourself, you can find it here.

AC Golden Brewing Company, Golden, CO

Dark Kriek

A blend of two barrel aged sour beers. A darker burgundy sour blended with a golden sour. This beer was then aged on 500 pounds of fresh Palisade sweet and sour cherries. Dark red and 5.5% ABV

Aspen Brewing Company, Aspen, CO

10th Mountain Imperial Stout

Paying tribute to the brave men who pioneered the ski industry following their service in World War II, our 10th Mountain Imperial Stout is an imperial version of the traditional English oatmeal stout. A decadent beer worthy of sipping by the fi re or sharing with friends. 87 IBUs, 9.3 % ABV

Atwater Brewing Company, Detroit, MI

BBA Blueberry Cobbler

2014 Bourbon Barrel Aged Blueberry Cobbler Ale-American Stout brewed with Michigan Blueberries. It’s the malt bill that gives this beer its distinct baked cobbler crust fl avors. Nose is heavy with blueberries but you don’t taste them until the fi nish. First release to be aged in Bourbon Barrels imparting a nice vanilla tone and sweet booziness that complements the fruit component. Original 8.6% ABV

Bells Brewery, Inc., Kalamazoo, MI

Hopslam

Double IPA with honey. Huge citrus, fl oral & fruity hop notes. 10% ABV

Black Bottle Brewery, Fort Collins, CO

World of Beer’s Big Beers Big Beer

This beer is a Collaboration with World of Beer (Lodo, Cherry Creek, and Belmar locations specifically) and Black Bottle Brewery. It uses HBC 342 experimental hop in the kettle and dry hop and San Diego super yeast finished with champagne yeast. 15% ABV

Casey Brewing and Blending, Glenwood Springs, CO

Blackberry Fruit Stand

This is our Saison refermented with fresh, whole blackberries.

Kannah Creek Brewing Company, Grand Junction, CO

Fuerte

Agave Strong Ale. This beer was aged for a year in a Peach Street Distiller’s Tequila Barrel. Deep ruby brown in color, huge bourbon and oak aroma with a hint of maple, rich malt body, and finishing warm and roasty. 8.5% ABV

Lost Abbey Brewing Company, San Marcos, CA

Track 8

American Oak Bourbon Barrel-aged Strong Ale. Specialty ingredients include cinnamon sticks & dried chili peppers. 13.7% ABV

New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO

Blackberry Barley Wine

The darker the berry, the sweeter the barley wine—that’s what we thought when brewing our newest Lips of Faith release, the first barley wine in New Belgium history. Blackberry Barley Wine channels the elegant spirit of a classic English barley wine, but with a kiss of blackberry to elevate the sip beyond convention. A deep wash of caramelized sugar and toasted bread, courtesy of Caramel Munich malts, adopts subtle laces of floral, fruity berries for a pairing as proper as sipping snifters beside a crackling fi replace. Warming, rich and complex, curl up to a pour of Blackberry Barley Wine this winter and toast to the finer things in life. 50 IBUS, 12% ABV

Paradox Beer Company, Woodland Park, CO

End Of The Beginning, Vol. II

This is our second year releasing our year end barrel-aged sour ale master blend. This complex straw colored brew has aromas of tart fruit, white grapes, and light toast oak. Crisp refined sourness and pilsen malt quickly give way to flavors of woody vanilla and earthy funk. Nuanced and sophisticated, this mature ale is an homage to the art of beer blending. 8.5% ABV

Brouwerij St. Bernardus

St. Bernardus Abt 12

Traditional abbey ale brewed in the classic style of Belgium’s Trappist Monks. It is almost ebony in color, smooth, creamy and full bodied with big richness of texture that is almost oily and very assertive, like a warming coconut brandy.10% ABV

Sam Adams/Boston Beer Company, Boston, MA

Utopias

Sweet fire, with a rich malt and wood complexity, Samuel Adams® Utopias® is unlike any other beverage in the world. 28% ABV

Strange Craft Brewing, Denver, CO

Dr. StrangeLove

This Barleywine represents our fi rst foray into the world of big beers. Aged one year before release, this beer has a huge malt backbone, balanced by over three pounds of hops per barrel. Incredibly drinkable for a beer of this size, the dry finish makes all that malt and hops go down easy. Sip this one carefully, or you may need a visit to the Doctor. 100+ IBUs, 12% ABV

Surly Brewing Company, Brooklyn Center, MN

Barrel Aged Darkness 2014

This massive Russian Imperial Stout brings waves of flavors; chocolate, cherries, raisins, coffee, and toffee, finishing with a non-traditional dose of aroma hops.

Telluride Brewing, Telluride, CO

Fishwater Project

Taking Fishwater to the next level! We take our Double IPA and age it for 6 Months in Peach Street Distillers bourbon barrels. When we hit that sweet spot of a perfect combination of bourbon and wood notes we then blend it with fresh Fishwater to bring back the fresh hop characteristics. The result is a scary drinkable ale of hop and bourbon goodness! 11% ABV

We hope to see some familiar faces up in Vail this weekend! It is and has been one of the best beer festivals, sporting some of the top brewers and beers from around the country year in and year out. As always, get there early for all the amazing seminars as well. Here’s the full list of what to expect seminar-wise. Cheers!

Focus on the Beer
beer@focusonthebeer.com