It's hard to be patient but it's especially hard to be patient when you're waiting on a beer's flavor during aging to get exactly where you want it to be. A good beer takes time and a good brewer doesn't release a beer until it's ready. The third beer in the Ibex Rare series, The Variant, is finally ready.
It's been 533 days since The Eleventh Labor, the highly acclaimed Apricot Berliner Weisse, was released as the 2nd beer in what Schlafly then called their Ibex Series. After the success of the that beer, along with the great reviews of the initial Ibex offering, Lazy Ballerina, The Variant has some high expectations to live up to. Schlafly of course knew this and did their best to formulate the perfect recipe:
We established the Ibex Rare series to showcase what can happen when we take a no-holds-barred approach to brewing beer. Ibex Rare beers will be few and far between, but The Variant exemplifies the artistry, ingenuity and passion for the craft brewing industry that lives and breathes within the walls of the Schlafly Tap Room. This rich stout is the result of an extensive brewing process that incorporates blending and barrel-aging. As some of this beauty rested in port barrels, deep within the Ibex Cellar, other amounts of the beer spend time alongside some of the finest cocoa nibs available. The outcome is a beer that boasts extraordinary flavor, body of velvet and a color that will have you doing triple takes. - Schlafly
If the makeup of the beer sounds great, don't dawdle. They didn't produce a ton of it so there is not a lot of this beer to go around (we got bottle 672 of 5,000). A small amount of the beer is earmarked for local distribution and even smaller amounts will make it to the rest of the cities lucky enough to get Schlafly distributed there. Your best bet is to make it down to the brewery on Saturday, April 15th to guarantee you get to take a bottle home because your local bottle shop is either getting very little or none at all. The release starts at 11am and the bottles will be sold for $30 with a limit of 3 per attendee.
Tim and Justin were both lucky enough to try the beer in advance. Check out their thoughts down below.
Bonus Fun Fact: The strip of paper covering the cap of the beer is reminiscent of the old "Tax Stamps" used on liquor bottles prior to 1985 to indicate taxes were paid on the bottle. The release date for The Variant is April 15th...tax day in the US.
|Location||St. Louis, MO|
|Style||Port Barrel Aged Stout with Cocoa Nibs|
|Distribution Info||Available 4/15/17 at the Schlafly Tap Room at 11am. Extremely limited distro to follow.|
|Sweet chocolate meets vinous oak and dark fruits like plums and even chocolate covered raisins. The alcohol notes are present as well although they don't scream ABV, they simply let you know this is no lightweight. The deeper you sniff, the more the chocolate becomes apparent and some residual sweetness peeks through as well.|
|The Variant pours as expected, a black beer with a deep, tan, frothy head that stays perched on top of the liquid the entire time you drink. The beer clings to the glass when swirled, showing its viscosity.|
|The notes from the aroma translate directly to the beer although a few new flavors are here, as well. The chocolate is more upfront here than on the nose however it comes across as more bitter than sweet. The dark fruits now include overripe blackberries which can be attributed to the port barrel and there is a definite smokiness that helps balance the sweetness of the beer. The oak is drying on your tongue and it's more pronounced than expected which is a good thing. The more the beer sits, the more the wine character comes out so please, don't drink this straight from the fridge.|
|The body is medium+, almost full with the carbonation coming in at medium. Overall, it sits well on your tongue but does not coat it. The carbonation allows the beer to get washed down after each sip, so you're always ready to have another taste. However, as the beer warms up, it shifts to a velvety smooth, tongue coating blanket of deliciousness.|
|We've been preaching about the renaissance of Schlafly ever since Eleventh Labor came out. Since then, we've said it more than a few times but always when the word "Ibex" is a part of the beer. The Ibex Cellar series has produced two amazing beers in its infancy with Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout and the Imperial Coffee Stout (also aged in Bourbon Barrels). They're proving that they not only have great brewers, but great cellarmen as well. Never waited in line for a Schlafly beer before? That may change this Saturday.|
|Chocolate, cocoa, caramel, chocolate cookies, light dark fruit, berries, very light oak.|
|Viscous, motor oil black body. Large foamy fluffy brown head.|
|Taste follows the nose. Chocolate, cocoa, caramel, light dark fruit, plums, raisins, berries, light port and barrel notes. Dry finish. Vinous port characters come out as it warms.|
|Creamy and luscious. Full bodied. Reminds me of an imperial milk stout.|
|Outstanding! Complex and delicious. Very easy drinking. Everything melds together very well. Cool bottle too! Highly recommended.|