My, how time flies. I can’t believe it has been a whole year since Haymarket Pub and Brewery opened it’s doors for the first time. Even though I typically would have been there opening day, the hubby and I were in New York visiting his family and we were not able to make it. I remember reading my Chicago Beer Society email on Christmas Eve 2010 when Pete Crowley announced that Haymarket would be open for business that night, and I remember feeling a tinge of sadness that I was stuck in New York and not in Chicago for this birth of a new brewery. Due to financial constraints the hubby and I will be in Chicago this year for the holidays and decided to check on the insane tap list that was put together to celebrate Haymarket’s one year anniversary. They released a new, exclusive beer every hour on the hour, beginning at 11 am. Oh boy!
Since the hubby and I were at Haymarket the previous evening (don’t judge me…) we already had a taste of Angrier Birds, the imperial, 10% ABV version of their Great American Beer Festival gold medal winner, Angry Birds. This allowed us to sleep in a bit and arrive at Haymarket at 1 P.M. As we entered, Pete Crowley himself started clapping. I think he clapped for everyone that entered but it still was pretty cool that we were able to make an entrance. The bar area wasn’t that crowded, so we saddled up to the bar and took a seat. It was 12:58 PM, so instead of immediately ordering a beer, we opted to wait the two minutes until Fruiter Angrier Birds was put on tap.
Right before the tapping, Pete lead the crowd in a New Years Eve-style countdown until it was FINALLY 1 PM. Pete and one of the other owners got first pour, and then it was our turn. Both the hubby and I ordered 12-ounce pours of the Fruiter Angrier Birds, the Angrier Birds Imperial Belgian IPA with one gallon of tangerine juice added to each barrel. Hubby and I clinked glasses and each took a sip. It’s almost like a mimosa! It is insanely drinkable, and belies it’s 10% ABV. It was dangerous as you just wanted to suck it down and order another. But we were here for the long haul and had to pace ourselves.
The 2 PM offering was Steve it to Bieber, a coffee imperial bourbon stout that was aged for six months in Woodford Reserve barrels with coffee. Hubby and I ordered 12-ounce servings of this one, as well. It poured a pitch black with a light brown head and there was a gorgeous bourbon aroma. The mouthfeel was smooth and buttery, and the flavor was of bourbon with a coffee finish. Delicious! It took me the full hour to drink this one; you definitely feel the 12.5% ABV and it is best to drink this one slowly.
When 3 PM rolled around, and Pete lead us once again in a countdown to the next release, the hubby and I opted to switch to the four-ounce size pours. And it’s a good thing we did since this hour’s release, Clare’s Thirsty Raspberry Imperial Stout, was also 12.5% ABV. I didn’t detect any raspberry aroma at first but it became more apparent as the beer warmed up. The flavor was like eating a chocolate covered raspberry, with a slight sourness on the finish. This was a delicious beer, with a nice balance between the beer and fruit sweetness.
The 4 PM beer was a Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley Wine aged on Lemon Zest. This was my least favorite of the day, not because it was a bad beer but because there was no apparent lemon zest flavor or aroma. While it was a good barley wine, it did not come across as “special” or a “one-off” brew like the others. The 5 PM release was a Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley Wine aged on Roasted Cocoa Nibs. Now this was different, with a slight chocolaty flavor that accented the beer nicely.
As much as I would have loved to stay all day and sample the remaining beers (especially the Peppermint Imperial Black Belgian IPA; sad I missed that one!), there are only so many 12% ABV beers I can handle. As we were heading out, we stopped by and congratulated Pete on his first anniversary. It was fun to witness him all day, meeting with customers and receiving gifts from friends. Most of those gifts were of the sock monkey variety. I had no idea there were so many variations of sock monkeys! All in all, a great afternoon and a fantastic way to spend a Christmas Eve. Can’t wait for the second anniversary next year!