Willimantic Brewing Company, Edge of Darkness

Recently Willimantic Brewing Company released the last few drops of Edge of Darkness, a wet-hopped American brown ale brewed at Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp this past September. Dave Wollner, owner and head brewer of Willimantic was on hand to add his expertise in IPA recipe development to the beer. In addition to this limited release, Dave also tapped a keg of 2008 vintage Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine, as well as his very limited Barrel Aged Sour Double IPA.

Edge of Darkness
Willimantic Brewing Company
Grade: A-

Even after a few months, this beer is still nicely floral. The sweeter caramel and roast notes from the darker malts come through, but there’s still enough hops in the nose to remind you this was we-hopped. The color is a very deep dark brown, with red/amber hues at the edges (Edge of Darkness?). At first glance one might mistake this beer for a stout. The hops have subdued over time, but the citrus from 120 pounds of Centennial hops are hard to miss. The finish is moderately dry with some roast notes following up the bitterness. A good drinking beer, something that I wish Sierra Nevada would brew and package on a regular basis. For now, I’m glad I got the chance to taste it at my favorite local brewpub.  
Dave with Ken and Steve Grossman

2008 Bigfoot Barleywine
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
Grade: B+

A study in what time does to a beer. The floral hops are almost completely gone. The raisins, figs, plums, brown sugar and molasses flavors of the malts are very forward. Bitterness is still there, but the most amazing thing is how different this beer is from a 2010 Bigfoot. Side by side, a 2008 and 2010 Bigfoot are two completely different beers.

Barrel Aged IPA^2 Blend
Willimantic Brewing Company
Grade: C

IPA^2 is a limited blend of Willimantic’s Pushing the Envelope (an IPA hopped with Chinook, Tomahawk, Simcoe and Ahtanum hops) and a barrel-aged double IPA.The twist is that this big, hoppy, oaked double IPA is soured. Yes, soured. Maybe even on purpose. The sourness is tangy, very floral, puckering, and is immediately noticeable. The oak aromas of earth and vanilla mingle in with the piney hops. The first sip confuses, as hop bitterness wrestles with the oaky sourness. A confusing, interesting, and very unique beer. Not sure I can have more than one though. Some of my drinking companions had trouble finishing theirs.