Excess equals success perfectly sums up Epic Brewing’s attitude toward its beers. But brewing to excess and still coming away with a quality, drinkable beer is no small feat. The Epic Brewing team sent over its account on how it did this for the 2017 rare release of Triple Barrel Big Bad Baptist. Enjoy.
Brewmaster Kevin Crompton opened a bottle from the first run of 2016 Double Barrel Big Bad Baptist, and after the first sip he said “The barrel-aged coffee in this is awesome! What other badass ingredients can we age in whiskey barrels?”
It turns out there are only a few other ingredients that have the rare ability to absorb barrel character, and the one at the top of our list that had us salivating was shaved coconut. We went straight to work on mocking up our latest idea to push our taste buds to the breaking point, and the result was beyond what we imagined.
The trio of barrel-aged imperial stout, barrel-aged Colombia Risaralda coffee and barrel-aged coconut (yes we put coconut into barrels and let it age), plus an added dimension from using a percentage of rum barrels, come together in a ridiculously perfect way. The coconut doesn’t steal the show, but it is the first thing you notice, even when you’re pouring the beer. Then it mellows revealing the coffee, malt, barrel, cacao, whiskey, rum, toast and, finally, more coconut. You get the idea — this baby is big and complex.
“It’s the kind of beer that you need to just buckle up and enjoy the ride. There’s a lot going on in the beer, but just like listening to music you can pick out different parts and the flavors continue to evolve as you fall down the rabbit hole,” Crompton said.
The return of BIG BAD BAPTISTA
Back for another year is Epic’s popular ode to the Mexican coffee Café de Olla. It’s Big Bad Baptista, and it’s packing some pretty hefty street cred, like a perfect 100 Points at Ratebeer.com, a 91 from Craft Beer and Brewing in February 2016 and three titles from Ratebeer.com’s “Best of Awards:” Best New Beers 2016, Top 100 best Beers in the World and Best Beer by Sub-region, Utah. So what’s all the fuss over? First, Epic starts with Big Bad Baptist and adds a carefully selected blend of Mexican coffees roasted for by Blue Copper Coffee in Salt Lake City, along with cinnamon, vanilla and a healthy dose of locally-produced cacao nibs from Solstice Chocolate.
“I think what makes Baptista so special is the combination of authentic ingredients and our brewers exceptional execution. It’s my favorite beer to pull out after a long day of skiing to enjoy while warming up by the fire,” said Epic Co-Founder Dave Cole.
This year’s Big Bad Baptist will feature coffee from Denver’s Corvus Coffee Roasters. Epic selected their Dead Reckoning Espresso blend, which features Guatemalan Coffee paired with natural and washed coffees from Ethiopia. The Salt Lake City releases will feature lively, natural-processed Ethiopian coffees roasted by Blue Copper. Blue Copper worked with Epic to fine tune the roast to bring out a balance of fruity, blueberry and pomegranate notes and a roasted character which compliments the cacao nibs.
Overall, this year’s Big Bad Baptist favors the fruit character of both the coffee and cacao more so than the roasted and toasted flavors of previous releases. This subtle shift reveals more of the nuance in each blend and the barrel character that drives the beer’s flavor.
All three Baptists will be distributed nationally to all of Epic’s markets and will be available in stores the last week of November.