Draught Works is quickly becoming one of my go-to places to grab a quick beer in the late afternoon or on a Sunday. I’ve worked my way through their mainstay beers and tried out their first seasonal (I’m going to say ever), called Half-Nuts Rye, the other day.
What is it: Rye Brown with Hazelnut
Color: Dark Brown
ABV: 6.5 percent
Taste: Very smooth and very drinkable with a slight hint of hazelnut, but not sweet. Maybe a little light on flavor, which can be good or bad depending on your taste.
Another pint: Yes, please.
- Matt Pritchard
Finally, with a house full of friends, I popped it open and poured it out into half-a-dozen glasses. Then I promptly went outside in the cold spring wind and spent some time alone with this beer.
The expectations were high. Since reading about the brewery in December, I’ve heard nothing but good things about this and other beer styles. At first it was just label infatuation. I’d heard the story of Babayaga growing up in a Slavic household, and I was familiar with the old witch’s woodland abode, a crooked shack perched atop four chicken legs. And I was even more familiar with the stories of all the children she’d eatin’, naughty children who’d run away from homes and not finished their work. The old Baba was good motivation for a kid like me.
Those memories came flooding back as I sipped the silky smooth stout with hints of chicory and smoke and an herbal fruitiness that I assume comes from the Rosemary smoked malt.
Deliciously complex and lively just underneath a refined exterior, Babayaga is a thing of beauty that does not even remotely resemble the evil old witch for which it’s named. Gorgeous layers of malt meld with bready Belgian yeast characteristics in a fusion of dry Irish stout and Belgian Dubel.
I sipped through a first tasting and let the characteristics wash over me as I stared at the now familiar label design. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I envisioned a low, wooded area with a wide stream and frozen shoreline. Bare trees with white bark and frost-tinged tips mar the skyline, while forest sounds emanate from undetermined locations. And that old witch is always in the back of my mind somewhere. She still calls me home when I’m out too late, and she stands over me with an evil grin when I haven’t finished my chores.
The good folks at The Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project did a pretty good job of capturing some of the woodland beauty that defines this beer, and they put it all in this video. Enjoy!
You may or may not notice the unique bottle as you peruse the whiskeys these days, but if you do, it likely caught your eye for the way the light played through the orange-brown liquor on the flask-shaped, old-fashioned bottle.
I remember when Bulleit Bourbon came out a few years back. It appealed to many of my Portland, Oregon friends for the pricing of the bourbon, which at the time was like $16.00 a fifth. We enjoyed it neat or mixed it with coke, but it was nothing pretentious or overly fancy.
Skip forward a few more years, and I’m living in Missoula, Montana. Bourbon is the drink of choice. Whether you’re camping or sitting around a summer fire after floating the Blackfoot River, everyone seems to have a flask of bourbon on hand.
Of all the varieties of bourbon, I enjoy the stronger, darker bourbons for the bite they have on them. Lighter bourbons often make good mixers. Bulleit falls somewhere in between. But the high rye content, something like 31 percent, gives it a much more bold taste than bourbons made with a higher wheat content. I find that Bulleit has a really nice spicy nose with honey and vanilla. But the flavor is more earthy than a Maker’s Mark on the palate.
Bulleit bourbon is a little more pricey than in my Oregon days, but it’s still a great deal and less than a bottle of Maker’s Mark. It’s available in the standard fifth and a 1.75 liter big bottle, at least here in Montana.
Because of its relative strength, Bulleit makes for a great holiday bourbon. It can be mixed in with egg nog, hot chocolate or cider to provide a festive drink, and you won’t lose that wonderful bourbon taste.
Give Bulleit a try for a little holiday sipper. It’s available at Griz Liquor and other fine establishments.