The mood last night was fantastic – the brewery had a buzz to it that I haven’t seen since Braxton first started putting their beer into cans, and made that announcement to the press and their loyal ‘Builders’.  I’m not sure that I have ever seen both Jake Rouse, and his brother Evan excited about the same beer before – when you see that, you know that something really awesome is about to be shared with you.

Dark Charge 2016About Dark Charge

Last years Dark Charge started a tradition down in Covington.  Dark Charge day and Braxton’s Winter Block Party is going to become one of the city’s hallmark beer events.  You can read a little more about the block party if you want – but the part that I want to talk about today is the bottle release.

Last years Dark Charge was great.  It came out around 10% ABV, and the brewery released several versions of it:

  • Dark Charge
  • Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Charge
  • Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Charge with Vanilla
  • Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Charge with Starter Coffee

The bottles tell the story of Dark Charge on them:

For the earliest folks living around Covington, Kentucky, the Ohio River was a crucial artery. Goods and services were made available via flatboat, connecting families and communities to the larger world. That’s how this region got its coal, for example — the rich, dark diamonds that lit the lights, warmed the homes, and fired the power that built this city. We brew that spirit into this strong, dark Imperial Stout, aging it in barrels that give a lasting depth to the finish. From right here in the garage, on West 7th Street, we brew a stout bold enough to light a city.

The variants sold out in under an hour, and the release did more than just get this city excited – it ignited a new event that I, for one, have been excited for ever since.  Well… the wait is nearly over.  This years dark charge again has a few variants – last month the brewery let us know about these:

  • Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Charge
  • Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Charge with Madagascar Vanilla Beans
  • Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Charge with Starter Coffee
  • Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Charge with Toasted Coconut
  • Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Charge with Ancho Chiles, Vanilla, Cinnamon and Cocoa

When they announced it, though – they hinted that there might be more to come, and when they invited us all down to the garage last night, I knew that the “more to come” was here.

Maple Bourbon Barrel Dark ChargeSomething Really Special

This beer is about the barrels.  This is a bottle that people will be clamoring to get, trading for, selling for stupid prices.  It will collectible, drinkable, loved… its a work of art.  To unveil it to the crowd, Jake Rouse explained it brilliantly:

This is the type of barrel that makes you want to get into beer in the first place – this is really special.

And he wasn’t lying.  Though the brewery isn’t allowed to share the specifics of the family involved, I can tell you from my sleuthing ability that this is a Bourbon that people line up for a chance to buy every single winter.  It’s regarded as the finest Bourbon in the world by most people and alone the barrels are pretty special.  These barrels though, they kick it up another notch.  The barrels are emptied of their boozy counterpart and then immediately make their way up around Columbus where they are filled with Maple Syrup.  Braxton got theirs, brought them home and filled ’em up with Dark Charge.

Then they sat.

The barrels were there for the last year-ish… teasing us from the corner of the garage.  Only the most eagle-eyed bourbon connoisseur would have any inkling what they were, or how special they might be.  Jake was right, this is something really special.  These aren’t your run of the mill barrels that you can just run down to your local Barrels R Us and pick up.

And I got to try it.

mapledarkchargeboxAbout Bourbon Maple Barrel Aged Dark Charge

The bottle reads a little bit with the story of this beer:

This 23 year old bourbon barrel aged imperial stout is something truly rare.  A special reserve is what some would call it.  Born from Kentucky straight bourbon barrels that finished and finally matured in the foothills of an Ohio maple farm, these oak barrels have found their way back to the commonwealth.

With notes of toasted oak, pure Ohio maple and smoky vanilla, this bottle represents a year’s worth of perseverance that proudly celebrates our new Kentucky heritage.

It’s different from every other Dark Charge that we’ve seen to this date, it’s label is dark, like the heavy elixir that lies inside. There is beautiful copper golden accents and lettering that brings your eyes to the copper wax on the cap, it reminds me of the maple syrup.  The whole thing is packaged inside a beautiful black box.  It tells the story of Braxton, of Dark Charge – not just in words but in it’s very existence.  This beer is a celebration of brewing, of Kentucky Heritage, of local Ohio products… it’s a celebration of drinking.  Luckily, not only am I a Braxton Builder, but I’m also considered by some people to be “media” (haha, suckers) so I can share my tasting notes with you.

It pours dark, with a dark brown head on it.  Aromas are nutty at first, with an underlying coffee and chocolate note playing off a boozy bourbon aroma.   Digging your nose into the glass you can then find the maple, which becomes much more prominent as the beer warms up in your hands.

Tasting this marvel is like tasting a well-balanced dance of flavors.  It’s boozy, it’s roasty, nutty and sweet all at once.  The maple is brilliant, present and dominant without being overwhelming.  Everything is literally punctuated by boozy bourbon flavor.  It all lingers on the tongue, like a dessert.

This is really something special.

Getting A Bottle

These are going to run $30 a piece.  It’s expensive…but worth it, capping off the entire Dark Charge release.  They will have a two bottle limit (that will be in place for every variant), and they’re going to go extremely fast.  If you want to get your hands on one, you’re going to have to get there early on December 3rd, and line up with the rest of us to do so.  The party and release kick off at noon, and I’m not going to try to tell you what time you should get there, but I will say that the afternoon isn’t the answer.

The brewery also told us that not only will the Dark Charges be on tap for everyone to drink – They’re going to be tapping EVERY one of their barrel aged beers that they’ve made so far.  Union Rouge?  Yep.  Barrel Aged Lumber?  Uh Huh.  This is going to be an awesome day, bring your DD.  You can of course find the event here, on Facebook… share it, tell your friends!

All The Dark Charges

Dark Charge In Box

Dark Charge Box

Braxton Dark Charge

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