Multiple Beer Review: Barrel Aged Barleywine, You Think Darkness is Your Ally?, 3rd Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout, Cinn-A-Bun (Ever Grain Brewing Co.)

Multiple Beer Review: Barrel Aged Barleywine, You Think Darkness is Your Ally?, 3rd Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout, Cinn-A-Bun (Ever Grain Brewing Co.)

Ever Grain Brewing Co.

Its been a hot minute since I’ve been to Ever Grain (the brewery), so I figured it was about time and I was due to try some delicious beers from them (absolutely always love their beers). They have such a fantastic brewery and a lovely place that is just so inviting (inside and outside) that I always love going there. Sadly, it just feels “so far away” from the Hummelstown area. Its really only a 18-22 minute drive (Google Maps flips and flops on this, depending on time of day, traffic, local events, etc.), so in actuality its not REALLY that far away, more like it just feels that way (due to having to cross the river I suspect) so its kind of a mental impediment.

Saturday while at work a co-worker mentioned about how she saw the Cinn-a-Bun and the other beers that Ever Grain was posting on their Instagram. You can actually check out our first post on Instagram here: . Hopefully as I figure out more about it, we’ll be posting more on there (I know a lot of people use Instagram rather than FaceBook or Twitter or even Untappd or ….. Myspace?!). But needless to say, she saw the post on their Instagram about it and got excited about it and was talking about how much she loves pastry stouts and such, and to be honest, I definitely do too. And over this past weekend (Saturday and Sunday, the 21st and 22nd of September) Ever Grain celebrated their 3rd Anniversary. (Feels like they’ve been open much longer, especially with the quality of their beers!). So I had to stop and get her a crowler of the Cinn-a-bun, plus, I definitely wanted to try out all these lovely delicious sounding beers myself. So… thats just what I did!

The brewery has undergone a few changes since I was last there (probably back in maybe October or November of LAST year). They now have a side-bar and restaurant (ran by Kurt, and its called Little Bird at Ever Grain) and their main bar area now opens up in two different directions. On a nice (and still warm) September night like Tuesday was, it was lovely. I chose to sit out in the patio area and read while drinking (like I usually do) and watched a cornhole tournament (or at least a cornhole competition) unfold.

Little Bird at Ever Grain

I unfortunately didn’t have a lot of time to spend (pretty much just enough time to grab the flight, sample it, read about 15 pages in the process, take in the ambience, and get the crowler to go), so I didn’t get anything to order from Little Bird. I also got there at 8:50 and the place was due to close at 10PM, though when I left at 9:20-9:30 it was still hopping and the tournament/competition was just ending. But all I’ve heard is amazing things and seeing Kurt’s posts on Facebook, the food looks absolutely phenomenal and delicious.

I was quite surprised by how busy they were at even 930 at night, on a Tuesday, especially given that their Google Maps, Untappd, and Hop Plotter, listings all had them scheduled to close at 10PM.

Ever Grain Brewing Co. (at 930PM on Tuesday September 24th, 2019).

It was a fun, loud, jovial atmosphere both inside the brewery and outside, especially in the grass area between Ever Grain and the boxing studio and the oyster restaurant. This is what is so great about breweries – bringing communities and people together. All kinds of groups of people hanging out inside at the bar area, at the tables, families with kids, guys watching sports on the TV, outside people playing cornhole and having a blast together, and I think the couple at the table near me were on a first or second date (a lot of new questions about each other), possibly even met there at the brewery.

My dark and heavy and boozy flight from Ever Grain, with Haley’s crowler of Cinn-a-Bun in the background.

Looking at the extensive (13+) beers they had available, I decided to go the route of dark, heavy, boozy, and I definitely loved the flight I picked out, and would highly recommend it to everyone making a one-time stop in at Ever Grain. My flight consisted of a (barrel aged) barleywine, a porter, a (barrel aged) Imperial / Double stout, and a milk / sweet / pastry stout. So it was definitely a heavy, boozy flight, and also a very dark one. It was delicious! Let’s break it down.

BA Barleywine (or Barleywine, or Barrel Aged Barleywine, depending on what sheet or screen or app you’re looking at).

Beer: Barrel Aged Barleywine
Brewery: Ever Grain Brewing Co.
Style: Barleywine – American
ABV: 14%
Untappd Write-Up: Smooth, lively & fruity we barrel aged this beer in Buffalo Trace barrels for a year. On a cold evening, you will be warmed from the inside out!

This was an absolutely wonderful barleywine, and as anyone who knows me knows, I love barleywines. The bigger, the bolder, the higher the ABV, the better. And this matches all of that. This is what a barleywine should be, and its definitely everything I love in a barleywine. Aged in Buffalo Trace barrels; which gives it an edge and a kick that just adds to the beer and puts it over the top.

Aroma is strong malt, strong notes of the boozyness before you even dive into the taste. It has a spicey and stone fruit smell that is heavy and stays in your nostrils.

Appearance is light to dark brown, an earthy brown one might say (or tobacco spit coloring if you’re feeling for an apt and disgusting coloring description). Its mostly on the light-brown spectrum moving upwards. Not a whole lot of head nor does there ever need to be for this. (I was also granted this for free since someone had ordered a taster of it and then didn’t want it, so even though I picked this for my flight, I didn’t have to pay for it, so it might have sat for a few minutes.)

Taste is splendid. Immediately heavy booze, heavy traces of the wood and barrel aging process, bourbon-scotch notes. Dry finish but nothing too dry and nothing bitter. No cloying, no off flavors, no astringency, no sourness. Mouthfeel is heavy but in the right ways.

This was definitely the right beer to start off this flight with!

My Untappd Rating: ****.25
Global Untappd Rating: 4.18 (as of 9.26.19)

You Think Darkness is Your Ally? (Porter by Ever Grain Brewing Co. in collaboration with H.L. Horse)

Beer: You Think Darkness is Your Ally?
Brewery: Ever Grain Brewing Co.
Collaboration: H.L. Horse
Style: Porter – Baltic Imperial / Double
ABV: 8%
Untappd Write-Up: You like dark beers? You’ve merely adopted the dark; this beer was born in it. In the cold, dark lager cellar it grew strong & emerged a deep, complex porter slightly roasty with a rich malty sweetness.

Didn’t realize it until after I checked it in and saw that it was a collaboration beer (no mentioning it on the sign or anywhere else). The Untappd page lists it as a collaboration with a “home brewery” named H.L. Horse. The page on H.L. Horse has no description or information, and lists them as having 18 unique beers to their name and 31 ratings (so no total global rating). So not sure the history on this collaboration.

Aroma is roasty, malt forward and heavy. It has a complex nose but generally speaking its more malt forward and roasty then it is anything else that I can fully distinguish.

Appearance is jet engine fuel black. Its sucking in light and not letting any of it return, ala a black hole. For a taster glass, it had a nice head to it, a nice simple foam with varying bubbles and a creamy look to it. This is the abyss that Nietzsche talks about, and if you keep staring at it, you will fall in.

Taste is a complex matter on this one. It is very dry, very bitter, at times too bitter, and at times too dry, but ultimately as a whole, it tastes alright. It tastes like first sip is overly bitter and dry, but middle sip is ok, and last sip the dryness and bitterness kind of even out. Hard to explain in that. This is heavy too, you can feel and taste some of that 8% that lurks in the depths of this dark beer. You get the roasty malts and even possibly a slight smokiness but that is very subliminal and very limited.

My Untappd Rating: ****
Global Untappd Rating: 4.01 (as of 9.26.19)

3rd Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout by Ever Grain Brewing Co.

Beer: 3rd Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout
Brewery: Ever Grain Brewing Co.
Style: Stout – Imperial / Double
ABV: 14.3%
Untappd Write-Up: A complex Imperial Stout aged in Wolford Reserve & Apple Brandy barrels which impart rich bourbon, chocolate, and roasted flavors.

This one surprisingly clocks in higher than the barleywine on the ABV charts for this fun outing. Climbing all the way up to 14.3% (the barleywine was a 14%). And this one felt heavy, but not as boozy as the barleywine. Aged in Wolford Reserve and Apple Brandy barrels rather than Buffalo Trace. Their 2nd Anniversary Stout was an aged Dark Necessity stout and clocked in at 11.2%. Their first anniversary stout was an 11% bourbon barrel aged stout. So you may or may not be noticing a theme with their anniversary stouts.

Aroma is kind of your typical for a stout. Malt, some chocolate, a bit of coffee maybe, a richness and a creamyness to it, a little bit of bourbon from the barrel aging.

Appearance is just like the Your Darkness, very black, maybe not quite as dark as the prior, but definitely dark. The head is a white slight foam, creamy in appearance. Unlike the Porter (Your Darkness) which had a more dark brown / peanut butter colored head to it.

Taste on this one is a bit interesting, and I found it sadly lacking. Not completely and overly lacking, but just… not quite what my expectations were probably before going in. I definitely imagined it being their big, bad, best stout, especially with a 14.3% ABV and with it being their “3rd Anniversary Stout”, plus anytime I have a “barrel aged” beer, I expect just a bit more out of it. Primarily due to cost going up on it (cost both for us as consumer and cost by the brewer). But also because of all the added work that goes in, to the transferring, to the procuring, to the sampling, etc, etc, etc. Just to reiterate, I did like this beer, it just didn’t fit the description and didn’t fit with my mental head on it. It tasted a bit thin, not flat, but thin, almost going towards watery but not there. It didn’t have a concrete bourbon flavoring to it either that I really expected it to have. There was a sweetness to it, which kind of surprised me. Could be the chocolate? I don’t know, it definitely didn’t have the bitter chocolate or the cooking chocolate flavor and taste to it. Thats for sure. Some roast malt notes but very slight.

My gut reaction response when I had it (encapsulated on m Untappd check-in): ” Interesting stout, kind of a sweet taste to it. Tastes thin and light, but is 14%, no real bourbon flavor. I like it, but doesn’t exactly fit the description or seem right, not sure. I do like it though, can’t fully put my finger on it.”

My Untappd Rating: ****
Global Untappd Rating: 4.18 (as of 9.26.19)

Cinn-a-Bun by Ever Grain Brewing Co.

Beer: Cinn-a-Bun
Brewery: Ever Grain Brewing Co.
Style: Stout – Milk / Sweet
ABV: 5.6%
Untappd Write-Up: A decadent dessert Stout brewed with milk sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, & dozens of fresh cinnamon buns from The Pennsylvania Bakery in Camp Hill. All of the rich flavors & aromas you’d expect from a cinnamon bun, conveniently infused in a Stout!

The purpose of the trip, to grab a crowler of this for Haley, my co-worker who saw this on Ever Grain’s Instagram or Twitter or whatever on Saturday (yea, I’m not very social media savvy but trying to get there for the sake of this blog). So I grabbed a crowler of this, got the flight for myself (can’t stop at a brewery without having at least one beer), and the total came to 19.25$ (well, 23$ after tip). So hopefully when I go back to work Saturday (yea… Saturday is my Monday) and I surprise her with it, she’ll like it. Fingers crossed. Always good to earn brownie points.

Interestingly, with the lead ingredient being fresh cinnamon buns from The Pennsylvania Bakery, it reminds me of the various cakes I’ve gotten from there in the past (ones for various parties and such like my moms birthday). Its one of the best bakeries around, an absolutely fantastic place.

So there is definitely a lot to unpack with this beer, and surprisingly its also the lowest ABV of my flight (by a fair margin, the other beers being a 14%, 8%, 14.3%).

Aroma is cinnamon heavy, bready, notes of vanilla and sugar. You can smell the cinnamon buns from The PA Bakery upfront and heavy. The cinnamon itself dominating most of all. But you can definitely get a bready quality there, and notes of the vanilla.

Appearance is like the last three, jet engine fuel black. (This is always one of my favorite descriptors, only followed up by “Razor Ramon hair black”, which maybe I’ll switch to using that more.) Nice small ring of head to this, whitish to slight cream colored.

Taste is a pastry stout bomb in your mouth going off. Everything you think about in a pastry stout is right there exploding immediately. Breadyness, sugary, creamy, vanilla, all sorts of flavors. Lactose. Bread. Vanilla. Smoothness and creamyness. The cinnamon is pretty heavy to going mild and adds a nice note to the beer. I think the cinnamon kind of overpowers some of the vanilla and creamy lactose notes, but not too much, and definitely not enough to offset the beer. This finishes just as good as it starts and it never gets bad at any point. Nice aftertaste of a cinnamon bun, just like it was fresh from Grammy’s oven.

My Untappd Rating: ****.25
Global Untappd Rating: 3.93 (as of 9.26.19)

For those curious, the book I’m reading is “How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems” by Randall Munroe of XKCD fame. Very funny book and I highly recommend it (I’ll soon be done with it and posting a review of it on my GoodReads if you want to check it out.)

As you can see I’m getting better with linking things, and working harder to incorporate more links and pingbacks to our other articles and such, and will be combing back over some of our older articles to start adding in links and updating them.

We were recently approached by a brewery named MidWest Coast Brewing Company to cover their opening of their brewery and taproom. They are a new brewery in Chicago and they invited us to do a brewery tour (which won’t be a while due to travel issues) as well as to do a write-up and kind of an interview with them to help grab some attention for their opening of their new brewery and taproom. So expect to see that article soon.

Likewise, expect to see quite a few new beer reviews, and comb back through for some others that got date-logged backwards due to when I started writing them. Also, my event write-up for the Lititz Brewfest I attended Sunday should be completed tomorrow, and will be posted here, as well as submitted to Breweries in PA. So you’ll be able to read it in both places. (Likely our blog will contain a bit more than their version will, mostly personal stuff I’ll post here before posting there.)

Also, for the second week we stayed at #11 on The Top 100 Beer Blogs on FeedSpot. We’ve only been listed for 3 weeks, and we debuted at #120, and then went to #11 in week 2 and stayed there for week 3. So that is definitely a high honor for us.

Last night, spent a fair amount of time at D.Scott’s practicing and setting up stuff for the podcast we’ll be doing together. He is currently thinking of the name of “Off the Rails” and it will be the two of us playing old NES and SNES games and discussing everything under the sun, while drinking beer, and talking craft beer as well. I’ll be sure to plug that here when things progress. (As a heads up, it will be a bit more ‘edgy’ than this blog is.)

Thanks for the look, hopefully you liked the beer flight review, I highly recommend checking out Ever Grain soon before these leave the taps (and not likely to come back), and make sure you all keep clicking the like, the subscribe and follow, and comment whenever you want, we appreciate hearing from you!

-B. Kline

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