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!