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11 Below 2nd Anniversary and Big Mistake RIS 2017

11 Below 2nd Anniversary and Big Mistake RIS 2017

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What a perfect day Saturday was… The sun was shining, temperatures were sitting in the 70s, there was a steady breeze, and the beer was pouring even more steadily. 11 Below Brewing’s 2nd anniversary party couldn’t have taken place on a more beautiful day.

Tony and Nick received 2 tickets to their VIP shenanigans (huge thanks to the 11 Below guys for thinking about us). If you were lucky enough to show up for their 11-1pm portion, you were met with six small pours of Big Mistake RIS.

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Big Mistake RIS is a Russian imperial stout that is aged in three different Yellow Rose barrels (5-year bourbon, 11-year bourbon, and 9-year rye) and then blended together to make for one seriously great beer. It’s a mistake they only make this once per year, but they appear to be learning from it because it’s getting better and better.

The pours they gave us were the base beer, samples from each individual barrel, the 2017 blended batch, and the batch from 2016. If you want to know why they call it Big Mistake RIS or read a little more on the 11 Below team’s background, check this out.

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The atmosphere was full of chatter as we talked with friends and made new ones. The staff pouring for the event were amazing and didn’t hesitate to help you out with whatever you needed.

It was a lot of fun to see how the base beer was changed by each barrel’s character, especially the difference between the 5-year and 11-year bourbon barrels. The 11-year gave the beer a thicker mouthfeel and had less alcohol heat. Every barrel also cut out a lot of the bitterness and young, sharpness that the base beer had.

All the pours were phenomenal and again, we have to shout praise to the crew at 11 Below for inviting us to take part in this Big Mistake!

At 1pm, when the event became open to the general public, the brewery started to buzz a little more, but never became packed. I don’t think any person had to wait in line more than 2-3 minutes at most to be served.

Even when the Big Mistake RIS variants were tapped at certain times, there was rarely ever a wait. Two of the owners, Brandon and Bryce, and the brewer, Keenan, were behind the bar, out on the floor talking to people, checking on the rest of their staff, and enjoying this shindig they put on.

The layout really helped to make the party feel big and small at the same time, as you could tell there was a substantial crowd without being crowded by it.

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There was also plenty of entertainment and food, as Mingo’s, Churrasco’s, and Steel City Pops came in with the eats and RKN Country Blues Band and Goodnight CoPilot provided the soundtrack.

There were also cornhole boards so you could watch people down Big Mistake RIS and then struggle to throw bags into holes because that’s the REAL fun when it comes to cornhole. 11 Below also had their usual lineup on tap in addition to Big Mistake RIS and its variants.

Speaking of the variants… My mom doesn’t like beer, but she was slammin’ that Big Mistake RIS with espresso so that has to say something, doesn’t it? I hope those make it out into the wild as well, but I wouldn’t doubt that they’ll be on tap at the brewery until they run out.

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Hats off to the crew at 11 Below for a great party, amazing beers, and 2 years of success with many more in sight! Some things you can look forward to in the future: Big Mistake kegs going out for your consumption at your local watering hole, as well as CANS TO BE SOLD AT THE BREWERY at a later date.

Also, Lame Duck is getting the canning treatment later this summer and let me just say that if you haven’t had it, you are missing out. It will surely become a summer staple in the city. So keep your eyes peeled. Beers to you, Houston!

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Nick B
nick.b@beerchronicle.com

Nick is originally from the Corpus Christi area, but found himself in Houston as of 4 years ago. You can spot him wearing a Hooks hat and drinking a glass of craft beer around the city. He typically prefers his beers to mirror his taste in music: complex, heavy, and dark.

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