What follows is the December 11th edition of my weekly column written for DIG Magazine.
In 2012, Parish Brewing released the first edition of its Grand Reserve, an American-style barleywine, or as Parish terms it, a “cellared annual ale.” The ensuing rush on bottle shops and liquor stores by eager craft beer fans reached nearly legendary status. This year, Grand Reserve returns in a big way on Dec. 14. Parish Brewing will host “Grand Reserve Day” this Saturday at the brewery in Broussard, La. Beginning at 11 a.m., you’ll be able to sample draft versions of both years’ vintages, try a cask version of this year’s edition, and purchase bottles before they hit retail the following week.
Parish owner and brewmaster, Andrew Godley, was kind enough to give me an advance bottle of this year’s vintage, and dare I say, it’s even better than the 2012 version. Grand Reserve was brewed in early summer, and bottle conditioned in their cellar. Each bottle is hand numbered and waxed, giving it even more allure. It pours a beautiful ruby color with a nice carbonation. The aroma is even hoppier than last year’s version, but there are also some toasty malts and dried fruits in there. This is a wonderfully complex beer, that’s both hoppy and malty, yet neither is dominant. It is velvety smooth and bursting with flavor. At 10.5-percent ABV, Grand Reserve is best saved for a special occasion. It will also age very well, and I suggest grabbing a bottle to drink now, and another to hang on to until next year’s release.
I’m about to make a bold declaration: in my opinion, Parish Grand Reserve is the best beer brewed in Louisiana, and this year’s version only reinforces that notion. If you can’t make the brewery release on Dec. 14, look for it at Calandro’s, Cuban Liquor, Matherne’s, and The Beverage Store the following week. But hurry, because bottles won’t stay on shelves long.