Great Lakes Barrel-Aged Blackout Stout – Day 14

One of my very good friends reminded me that today is the 1-year anniversary of our friendship.  Normally, I wouldn’t remember details like that, but on this particular date one year ago today, we met while drinking a special beer that is released on the same date every year.

I have made some of my best friends in the whole world in the last year and a half.  And the common thread to all of these friendships is that we met while drinking beer.  I’ve been trying to figure out how this came to pass…how are these friends so much more important to me/close to me than friends that I’ve had since high school or college?  I hang out with them almost every weekend.  When we don’t see each other for a week or two, it seems as if forever has gone by and I truly miss them.  I can truly be myself around them, whether that is the good, the bad, or the ugly (as can often happen when drinking tons of beer).  If I was getting married now, some of them would definitely be in my wedding.  I have a theory as to how and why this has occurred.

The friends that I made in high school or college tended to be situational.  We were in the same homeroom, on the same sports team, lived in the same dorm, were studying in the same field, etc.  And while those are all important things at the time, they don’t really make us who we are.  I contend that in high school and perhaps even in college, I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted out of life.  I know who my parents wanted me to be, who my friends thought I was, who my boyfriend thought he loved.  But I didn’t know me.

It took adulthood (i.e. moving into my own house and getting a job) before I began to work on who I was.  Some things have remained mostly the same.  But others have changed drastically.  Now when I get together with friends from high school we tend to have the same conversations.  After we catch up on what the other is doing we digress into, “Do you remember when…?” or

“How about that time when we…”  We simply don’t have anything in common to talk about.   I know that this doesn’t apply to everyone and some of you probably have amazing friends that you’ve had since elementary school that you have tons in common with, but not me.

My beer friends have become my best friends.  While beer isn’t the only thing we have in common, it was the gateway into conversations that turned into friendships.  Thanks Bill, for reminding me not only about our 1-year friendship, but also that beer has brought me close to so many people.

Great Lakes Barrel-Aged Blackout Stout

On August 14, 2003, Cleveland lost power.  (Actually much of the mid-west and parts of Canada lost power, but this story is about Cleveland).  Power wasn’t restored to many locations until around 8:00 the next morning.  In honor of this event, Great Lakes brewed a Blackout Stout.  And then they barrel-aged it using oak barrels.

In past years, this beer has been really boozy and semi-difficult to drink.   Last year, Great Lakes had a release party where they opened a 3-year vertical of the Barrel-Aged variety.  While it was still boozy each year, it definitely smoothed out a little each year as it aged.  Today’s variety, on the other hand, was chocolatey.  The booziness was present, but much lessened from previous samples.  Mind you, it still isn’t an easy drinker, but the booze didn’t beat me over the head.  Great Lakes labels it a 9.5%, but there is no way that this beer is anything under 12%.

While I thought this was the 2012 version, the bartender informed us it was actually 2011.  This is good news, since the 1/2 barrel keg that was tapped tonight kicked within 3 hours.  We have a bunch in our cellar that are apparently at the perfect drinking age.  If you have any 2011 Barrel-Aged Blackout, drink it now if you love chocolatey goodness!  I certainly do.


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This Post was Written by Hop Bunny G

Hop Bunny G.

Comments & Reactions from Around the Web

  • Barak316

    Cheers Gretchen! You said yourself it sure seems like it had been more than a year. I agree, it’s probably because there is either a gathering, tasting, event or “Church at the Taphouse” that brings us all together more often than not. To be able to call you and Steve good friends means a lot to me. You guys are truly like family!


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