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Into the Cellar: 4 big beers


Winter’s creeping in, which means the year’s bigger beers are landing on our doorstep. We’ve sifted through new arrivals, tempered our desire to drink them all up, and tagged these beauties for a nice, long sleep in our cozy, cool cellar.

Odell Woodcut No. 7
This release caused a pinch of regret. Last year, when No. 6 arrived, we decided to open it up along with the entire lineup of previous Woodcut releases. The results were glorious. But now that No. 7’s here, we’re wishing we could do it again. The silver lining: We’re excited to see how a developing dark fruit sweetness pairs with the woody tannins, vanilla and bold roasted malts of this 12.5%-ABV oak-aged imperial stout.

Deschutes The Abyss 2013
This one will look great in our cellar, especially sitting in a line with the 2008 and up vintages. This annual blend of imperial stouts combines a ton of interesting ingredients: Primarily black strap molasses and licorice, but parts of the blend contain cherry bark, vanilla and spent time in barrels like oak, wine and bourbon. Its 11% ABV gives it some warmth, but a couple years will hopefully produce an ultra-silky-smooth mouthfeel to die for.

Newport Storm 13
This intriguing 12%-ABV strong ale was brewed with three types of roasted malts: English roasted, chocolate and German chocolate wheat. During conditioning, the brewers “dry-beaned” it with locally roasted coffee beans (that is, they soaked the beans in the beer to extract the flavor). Finally, they added wood from rum barrels to inject a spicy vanilla note into the final batch. We can’t wait to see how a matured sherrylike sweetness complements the beer’s coffee and rum notes.

Breckenridge Stranahan’s Well Built E.S.B.
Breckenridge filled used Stranahan Colorado Whiskey Barrels up with its ESB and let it mature for three months—the result pulled the spicy spirit and oaky tannins into the base beer. While it’s only 7.8% ABV (“only”—is that really how we think these days?) it should smooth out after 6 to 12 month in the cellar. We can hardly wait.

Which of the season’s releases are you putting to bed?


Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at

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