Brewer: Parish Brewing, Broussard, LA
Beer Style: American Barleywine Ale
Price: $13.99 for a 750mL bottle
Available: Early December
Grand Reserve is an annual winter offering from Parish Brewing. The first Grand Reserve was released in 2012 and sold out within hours of going on sale. The 2012 vintage drew rave reviews from across the Louisiana craft brewing scene, and established the beer one of the most sought after and distinguished brews in Louisiana. Because of the ridiculous demand, 50 percent more bottles were produced this year for a total of 1,950 bottles, which is still an incredibly limited supply. Parish plans to double or triple that number for next year's vintage to meet the demand, but I think that won't be enough.
This American Barleywine was brewed in the summer at the Broussard brewery, and then conditioned in the Parish Brewery cellar until its release in winter. Each bottle of Grand Reserve is individually numbered with the year of release and bottle number because the beer will age in the bottle like wine. Parish actually recommends that if you can get your hands on multiple bottles you should stash a bottle or two away to taste alongside future Grand Reserve offerings. All of this points to some delicious beer.
This is a very powerful beer. When poured, it has an off brown color head that disappears pretty quickly. My picture really doesn't do the color justice, but it is a very hazy medium copper color that is very difficult to see through. The aroma is a very sweet mixture of floral hops, alcohol, and malt sweetness. It smells fantastic. The mouth feel of this beer is very heavy and rich, it's almost chewy. While drinking, you get strong notes of toffee and caramel with fairly bitter hops coming in to balance out that upfront malt sweetness. You also get notes of dried fruit throughout. The finish is a little dry with hops, alcohol, and caramel flavor lingering in the mouth.
As I was drinking my glass, I noticed I was thinking of three things.
1) This is a beer that you can only really drink one glass of because it is so heavy and filling. A session beer this is not.
2) It is something special that you need to share with other people. Thankfully, I had my uncle and dad to split the bottle with. Had I drank the whole bottle myself, I'd have been full/drunk.
3) I prefer the 2012 vintage. I got to taste both side by side at "Grand Reserve Day" and I felt myself drawn more to the 2012 vintage. I thought the 2012 was a bit sweeter and less hoppy than the 2013, which fits my palate better. This could also reflect the aging of the 2012.
Overall, this is a fantastic beer and you should go out of your way to find some. Even though I prefer the 2012 vintage, this beer is still pretty much perfect.
On our 1-5 scale, Grand Reserve 2013 gets 5 stars. Go out and get your some.