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Autumn Customs 

One fall beer ritual returns, while another is born.

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Epic - Big Bad Baptist (Breakfast Baptist): Big Bad Baptist season is back. Epic Brewing's Imperial stout franchise returns in 2022 with six new variants popping up over the next three weeks. The Breakfast Baptist is one of the first to debut, with whiskey barrel-aged maple syrup and a big dose of Blue Copper Coffee.

This pours a very dark brown with ruby hues around the edges. The beer is thick and oily, coating the glass like many Imperial stouts. The smell is composed of dark espresso roast coffee with decadent baking chocolate evening it back out, plus a light amount of hops. Espresso-milk chocolate is a good summarization.

This is where the fun begins. I consumed this one cold to warm, so initially the dark coffee played the lead. A couple minutes, later the cocoa and milk chocolate really stepped up to balance things out. The maple flavors are light, and seem to jive well with the barrel treatment. Coffee bitterness lingers on into the finish until you take your next drink—not overbearing, but it was there. The 11 percent ABV is well-hidden, but it creeps up on you towards the end. This beer was thick and creamy, such that its lower carbonation coupled with its viscosity help it feel like a melted chocolate milkshake (no lactose added). I think the amount of yeast and other sediment keeps this down a little.

Overall: I didn't expect much going into this beer, but I was pleasantly surprised. No single component was overdone. This was very smooth and enjoyable, like any good barrel-aged, coffee, chocolate, maple stout should be. It's a no-brainer to pursue.

TF - Estate Comet: This beer was conceived of by Assistant Brewer Jacob Cobb. He opted to go old school with this new IPA, which features Comet hops, a workhorse in brewing since the early days of craft beer.

It pours a light to medium golden amber; a one-finger white head boasts great retention and lots of lacing. An aroma of mild biscuit and caramel malt, light citrus and dank hops, orange citrus and tropical fruit emerges, with a pleasant light spiciness.

Flavor is mild sweet caramel malt, citrus and dank hops, orange citrus, mango, hints of light stone fruit and light pine; it finishes with citrus rind bitterness, then, as the flavor fades, an odd toasted bran flavor pops up, followed by a quite astringent and long-lingering rind bitterness. It's medium-bodied with nice creaminess—an interesting roller coaster of flavors in this one. It starts out smelling and tasting a bit laid-back with light unobtrusive malt and light citrus hops plus a hint of dankness and pine, then you get that odd grain taste that is actually very appealing and ephemeral, before finishing very bitter with little herbal flavor to support the bitterness. With the long pine finish and mild-mannered malt, this would ordinarily be a slight miss for me, but I could not stop tasting this one.

Overall: The initial flavor is nice, if deceptively mild in hop bitterness, then the bitterness sneaks up, while other flavors are revealed. Very nicely done balance of subtle, hoppy depth from this one, ranging from dank/herbal to tropical and spice notes throughout. Maybe nothing god-tier overall, but the variety—alongside the 7.2 alcohol balance—puts the drinkability at an incredible level. This can be enjoyed casually and without much thought, while still offering plenty to the palate.

While the standard Big Bad Baptist has made its way into 16-ounce cans, these variants are still in their traditional 22-ounce bottles and available every damn day at the brewery. TF's IPAs are always a hot commodity, and tend to walk out the door at a pretty steady clip. Don't delay on this one. As always, cheers!

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