Christian Moerlein does things a little differently. They spend a lot of time trying to balance the history that the name ‘Christian Moerlein’ brings along with it, while still kicking things into new gears and innovating in the manner that modern craft beer expects them to. These two sides of Moerlein are honored every year with their anniversary release, which uses the two anniversaries to make up the beer’s name.
You’ll see the first date on the bottle, spelled out, which represents the anniversary of the “modern” Christian Moerlein, the year that the brands were purchased by Greg Hardman and plans were put into place to bring them back to Cincinnati. The second number which is written out numerically is the anniversary of the brewery’s origin back in 1853 in Cincinnati.
This beer was unfortunately only released on draft. It was a winter warmer aged in bourbon barrels and was 10 kinds of fantastic. I fell in love with it from the first sip I had at Jungle Jim’s Barrel Aged Beer Bash that winter. I would love to see this return again in bottles at some point (hint, hint, Moerlein… if you’re listening!)
Overwhelming demand for bottles led Moerlein to release this one in their first ever 22oz bombers. They were wax dipped, hand numbered and a big hit for the brewery. Fans loved the Bourbon barrel aged Wee Heavy just as much as they did the Winter Warmer from the previous year. And it was a fun one to cellar, though I finished by stock off within the next 18 months or so.
This beer was a real home run in my book. They got this one into 22oz bombers again, and the presentation was perfect for this Belgian Quad that was aged in brandy barrels for four months. It was a huge step for the Anniversary Series, and still sits near the top of the list of them for me.
2017’s release was a big Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon barrels with an addition of cherries to the party. From the label:
We are celebrating turning 164 years old and 13 years young! Originally founded in 1853 and resurrected in 2004, Christian Moerlein has been brewing up quality beers for many years and this special anniversary release is brewed to celebrate them all. Thirteen/164 is an imperial stout weighing in at 13.2% alcohol by volume. Brewed to provide a huge, malty body and deep roasted flavors and then aged in dark cherries for a decadent sweetness. The beer was the aged to perfection for 6 months in charred oak Bourbon barrels.
For 2018 Christian Moerlein went back to a draft only offering, and did one that wasn’t barrel aged for the first time too. The release, though isn’t one to skip over. The beer is a single hopped Maibock that clocks in at 7.2% ABV with 29 IBUs. The brewery says it’s a lighter version than a traditional bock beer, but has a more pronounced hop profile. They say it’s got a sweet, bready flavor and high abv usually associated with bock styles. To put their own spin on things, they hopped this one up with Cascade hops, a nice salute to modern craft beer packaged in a traditional German brew.