As we continue the countdown to our Wood & Wild Festival -- taking place Oct. 22 at every HopCat location -- we're checking in with our expert beer managers for suggestions about beers to try at each of our restaurants. Here, HopCat Madison's Kyle Montgomery suggests a few "unicorns" (beers so epic and legendary they defy comprehension) that will be featured at Madison's W&W event:
Victory Brewing Co. – Java Cask
As a Pennsylvania native very proud of the PA beer scene, including this 14.3% ABV bourbon barrel-aged behemoth of an imperial stout in my list was a no brainer. If you haven’t heard of it, that’s because it very seldom makes it out into the market. It’s big, it’s bold, and it’s loaded with coffee. RateBeer Score: 99%.
Upland Brewing Co. (Prairie Artisan Ales Collab) – Cursed Kettles
This beautiful little collab makes my list for several reasons. For one, Prairie Artisan Ales makes some pretty sought after stuff (Prairie Bomb! anyone?) and is not distributed to the state of Wisconsin, so collaborations like this are the only way we can get our hands on it for the time being. Also, if you haven’t heard, Upland has one of the most highly acclaimed sour programs in the country. At 6.3% ABV, this fig & black cherry-infused American sour ale is sure to quench your thirst without putting you on your back.
Hoppin’ Frog Brewery – Barrel Aged B.O.R.I.S.
Not many people picture Akron, Ohio as a hotbed for craft brewing, but thanks to Hoppin’ Frog and a handful of other small breweries in the area, that is starting to change. Known for their big & boundary pushing brews, Hoppin’ Frog knocks it out of the park with this bourbon barrel-aged imperial oatmeal stout. RateBeer Score: 100%.
Oskar Blues Brewery – Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy ‘16 & ’17
Okay, so technically this is two beers, but that’s part of the appeal. Trying two beers of different vintages side by side (also known as a vertical tasting), can be a fun & rewarding experience. You can taste how the beer changes over time, and often how the brewer has tweaked a recipe from one year to the next. Oh, and I suppose it doesn’t hurt that they’re two vintages of one of the best bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout in the world. RateBeer Score: 100%.
Lagunitas Brewing Co. – High West-ified
When it comes to the craft beer scene, a beer’s perceived value is derived in part from its quality and in part from its exclusiveness. When we talk about Lagunitas’ High West-ified, we’re dealing with a whole lot of both. Not only is it an incredibly smooth and full-flavored imperial coffee stout, but due a dispute with the producer of the bourbon barrels it was aged in, it is no longer produced. Drink it while you can, because once it’s gone, it’s gone. RateBeer Score: 100%.