For the 12th year in a row, the Brewers Association is sponsoring American Craft Beer Week, its nationwide promotion for small and independent craft brewer members.
From May 15 – 21, all 50 states have planned events, including brewery tours, special beer releases, beer and food pairings, tap takeovers and on and on. And you can find the remaining Georgia craft beer events for this weekend here: craftbeer.com/events.
Serendipitously, Wild Heaven Beer in Avondale will be winding up the weekend from 1-6 p.m. on Sunday with Wild Heaven Seven — a seventh anniversary celebration with a tap line-up that includes its tasty new Goodvice Double IPA, plus special reserve kegs, live music and food trucks.
And there’s a very limited take-home souvenir, in the form of a 750mL bottle of Seventh Heaven, a barrel-aged ale selected and blended by brewmaster Eric Johnson for the anniversary.
Before it was bottled, I was able to sample a bit of Seventh Heaven during a tasting and discussion earlier this week with Johnson and Wild Heaven president Nick Purdy.
This week’s Beer Pick is based on my notes of the pre-carbonated blend. Your milage may vary, if you’re lucky enough to snag a bottle on Sunday.
Wild Heaven Beer, Avondale
Available in 750mL bottles on Sunday at Wild Heaven Beer in Avondale
This one-off flavor bomb is the product of the on-going barrel-aging project by Wild Heaven brewmaster Eric Johnson. In this case, Johnson used an aged version the brewery’s Height Of Civilization as the base. It’s an English-style barley wine ale that’s flavored with Prussian lemons, hibiscus, tart cherries, cranberries and cocoa nibs and finished in Dulce Vida tequila barrels.
Later, Johnson added 40 pounds of raisins and dates and a dose of Brettanomyces “wild yeast” to the mix, and as he said, wound up with a dark strong ale that drinks more like amaro or Madeira. Definitely boozy, bittersweet and wine-like, it has a deeply fruity complexity that defies most beer descriptors, which in this case, is a very interesting thing.
This big, vinous, barrel-aged brew begs to be sipped after dinner, like an amaro or fortified wine — either by itself or with a funky cheese like Zimbro, a slightly sour, but very creamy raw sheep, thistle rennet import from Portugal that’s often available at Murray’s.