January Craft Beer Report – Lenny Boy Brewing, Straight to Ale, Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Full Spectrum Brewing
Whether a brewery sends me a courtesy sample, I visit a brewery on a press trip, or I just stop in a brewery because beer, I drink a lot of beer. Each month, I summarize my favorites in a monthly craft beer report.
January was slow both travel and beer-wise for me. I intentionally didn’t plan any trips as I wanted to dedicate the month to properly planning for 2017 business goals. I also fought a bout with food poisoning that made me lose my taste for anything for a week or so. However, I did find a few gems along the way, including a new to me brewery right here in the Charlotte metro area.
Lenny Boy Brewing Burn Down for What American Wild Ale (Draught, 4.6% ABV, 27 IBU)
- Where: Lenny Boy Brewing’s taproom in Charlotte, North Carolina
- With: Good friends and good cheer on Charlotte’s yearly snow day – you know, when all the locals stay inside and the Northerners brush off their snow driving skills
- Notes: I know Burn Down for What is a regular favorite of Lenny Boy Brewing fans and wouldn’t fall under that “special release” category, but that doesn’t mean the beer isn’t special. Burn Down for What won a gold medal in the Experimental or Aged Beer category at the 2017 Best of Craft Beer Awards and the title of Best Organic Sour at the 2015 National Organic Beer competition. The sour brown has nice cherry and chocolate notes over a blanket of mellow barnyard funk. It’s made from unboiled and unhopped Burn Down Brown that is aged with Lenny Boy Brewing’s in-house culture for several months. The beer is then blended with fresh Burn Down Brown.
Straight to Ale Unobtanium Barrel Aged English-Style Old Ale (Bomber, 11.5% ABV)
- Where: Casa de Gourmand
- With: The Houston Texans getting their asses beat in the NFL playoffs
- Notes: I can’t say enough good things about Straight to Ale’s barrel-aging program. It’s one of the best in the craft beer world. Their Unobtanium is an English-Style Old Ale that’s aged for six-months in bourbon barrels. What Straight to Ale does so exceptionally well is draw out the flavors one wants from a bourbon barrel – like fig, oak, vanilla, and caramel – and not the harsh booziness. It’s all about the balance. This could be why Straight to Ale’s beers are starting to become hot commodities among beer traders. “You know you’ve made it as a brewery when someone trades your beer for Russian River’s,” said Matt Broadhurst, operations manager of Straight to Ale, when he learned that a bottle of the Unobtanium was traded for multiple bottles of Russian River’s Pliny the Elder.
Olde Mecklenburg Brewery Bourbon Barrel Aged Fat Boy Baltic Porter (Draught, 8.5% ABV)
- Where: VIP Tasting at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery
- With: Various media folk
- Notes: The Bourbon Barrel Aged Fat Boy Baltic Porter is a special beer and not one the is readily available to the public. The only way to get your hands on a bottle is if you attend their annual bottle share and breakfast party, which takes place each January. Your ticket to the event not only lands you breakfast, but also a bomber of of the highly coveted porter. This year’s version is different than previous iterations. Instead of aging the beer in Four Roses barrels, OMB aged the beer in RUA barrels from Great Wagon Road Distillery, located across the street from the brewery. From what I’m told, the bourbon takes more of a front seat than in the past. While the full Fat Boy experience may be lost, the flavor is still not “Hi! I’m bourbon.” It was more like “Hi! I have bourbon in me.”
Full Spectrum Brewing Reaper Roast Amber (Draught, 7.8% ABV)
Where: Full Spectrum Brewing Taproom
Notes: I’m ashamed to admit that I never heard of Full Spectrum Brewing until just a few weeks ago. Not only has the brewery been open for a couple of years, it’s also located just over the state-line from my house. Full Spectrum Brewing is on par with the best of the best in Charlotte. That is no joke. Every beer I sampled was brewed to perfection. The Reaper Roast Amber blends Carolina reaper peppers and cold brew coffee into an ale that is sweet, spicy, and slightly bitter. The mild malts seem to tie everything together in a way that is both balanced and addictive. Charlotte beer nerds need to visit this place now.
What was the best beer your drank last month?