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!
On days when the sun beats down on Missoula after a long winter, on days when the blue sky promises to go on forever beyond the jagged mountain tops that frame our horizon, on days when the air seems to carry a heaviness born of the perfume of freshly mowed grass, those are the days when taste and thought collide to form a certain permanence.
I love spring for more than sunshine and baseball games.
I love spring because there are tastes that are only associated with it. Chocolate bunnies for one. Chocolate just tastes different shaped like a fluffy bunny. Lamb is another spring taste. You can eat lamb any time of year, but it tastes like it should fresh in the spring.
The Big Sky Belgian Wit is another one of those tastes. Crisp and light, like a mimosa on Easter, the wit beer seems to cross the zones of your mouth like a wedge of Curacao sunshine.
The slight wheat sweetness is balanced by a delicate lactic sourness, which makes this beer a perfect spring salad partner. Throw a spinach and strawberry salad together with a balsamic vinaigrette, and you’ll have the most amazing splash of taste combinations celebrating in your mouth.